- Daniel Day-Lewis – My Left Foot (1989)
- Joaquin Phoenix – Walk the Line (2005)
- Christian Bale – The Machinist (2005)
- Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008)
- Charlize Theron – Monster (2003)
- Daniel Day-Lewis – The Last Mohicans (1992)
- Adrian Brody – The Pianist (2002)
- Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland (2006)
- Marlon Brandon – The Men (1950)
- Robert De Niro – Raging Bull (1980)
Whenever we reach what we think are the boundaries of our endurance, you know ten minutes later you’re thinking: i could have done that – like in any athletic pursuit – i could have gone further than that; i could have jumped higher.Daniel Day-Lewis
Method acting is becoming popular over the day for both aspiring and renowned actors. Method acting technique is basically where an actor delves into their characters through extensive research to think and perfectly act like them. The actor brings the character to life. We have dug deeper into the method acting technique in our previous article. So, allow me not to get repetitive and head straight into some of the best method acting examples in the history of film making.
Although method acting appears as a controversial acting technique, we can confidently agree that method acting has produced some of the best films in history. It’s sad, however, that as viewers, we can only see the tip of the iceberg. Method acting is highly underrated because people don’t know the struggles the actors go through, some ending up sick or even dead. Let’s take a look at some of the best method acting examples, shall we?
Daniel Day-Lewis – My Left Foot (1989)
Daniel Day-Lewis is always the first name that comes to mind when we think about method acting. He took the technique to a whole new level in the shooting of the film “my left foot.” the actor is always known to take his acting craft seriously. Day-Lewis carefully chooses his roles and taking months and even years to perfect the craft. Both critics and awards seem to agree on the effort and dedication this actor puts in all his roles.
His role as honest Abe in the film “my left foot” is no different. The performance he gives in this film is outrightly transfixing. Before the filming, Day-Lewis spent a full year reading and learning about his character as a man with cerebral palsy. The whole time while filming, the actor would not leave his wheelchair. He made the team members carry him around and spoon-feed him so he could stay in character.
He would even sign ‘A’ any notes to the team and refused anyone calling him by his name or speaking to him in a British accent. Gordon-Levitt, who plays his son in the film, says he did not meet Day-Lewis until the after party of the shooting.
Joaquin Phoenix – Walk the Line (2005)
Phoenix first rose to fame after acting as the emperor Commodus in Gladiator, the Puerto Rican born star is known for outing all his emotions, skill and hard work in his craft. Some even argue that he is the best actor of our time. Phoenix always brings his best self to his performances, giving a touch of charisma to his characters.
We see a shocking method acting technique in his role in “walk-in line,” where he plays the famous Johnny cash. Prior to shooting the film, Phoenix spent six months learning how to perfectly play the guitar, sing and study Johnny cash’s life. It’s reported that the whole time during the shooting, Phoenix did not allow anyone to address him in another name other than JR, the real name of the composer.
Christian Bale – The Machinist (2005)
Although it’s been almost a decade since the thriller the machinist came out, it’s still as unsettling as it was then to watch the film. Christian bale, who starred in the film, is known by his colleagues and directors for being super immersive in his craft.
So, before starring in the film as a sleep-deprived and drill-pressed operator in the film, his director, brad Anderson asked him to lose some weight to fit better in character. Bale, who was thirty, then did not just lose some weight. He went on total, partial fasting to lose a lot of weight. It’s reported that Bale embarked on a diet of just coffee, water, and an apple each day for four months by the end of his dieting, he was 65 lb. Not satisfied with re weight loss, he intended to lose more weight by cutting off social gatherings to avoid falling into the temptation of binge eating. The filmmakers, however, advised him against further weight loss.
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008)
Ledger is another man we cannot forget to mention when citing method acting examples. When heath ledger passed on in 2008, fans and critics were quick to associate his death to his disturbing works in the film, the dark knight. It’s reported that when Ledger was shooting his role as the joker, he came across something close to disturbing, which many say must have caused his unraveling.
It’s said that during filming, Ledger, playing joker, barely slept at night. He even kept notebooks which he would stay up at wee hours of the morning, filling them with cryptic rambles that would only be associated with a man bordering madness. All in all, his performance as the joker in the dark knight was nothing less than perfect. The association of his death with the shooting of the sequel makes the film even more haunting to watch.
Charlize Theron – Monster (2003)
Charlize Theron is one of the most beautiful and talented actresses to ever grace the industry. Until the filming of the monster, Charlize never showed us or suggested that she could pull off the role of a tortured prostitute. It turns out she had some hidden talents under her sleeve.
In the filming of the monster, she put aside all her beauty to be the perfect character for the monster. She gained 30 lb before the filming. She did not stop there! Charlize Theron underwent a magnificent transformation and not just on make up for the role. She even used prosthesis on different parts of her face and body and got a set of false teeth. Her performance in the monster earned her the best actress Oscars.
Daniel Day-Lewis – The Last Mohicans (1992)
As we mentioned, Day-Lewis is one of the most dedicated actors we know. He takes method acting to heart by using his personal experiences to identify with his characters. In the Last Mohicans, Day-Lewis plays Hawkeye. His character as a strapping frontiersman who is taken by native tribesmen to help combat European invasion in a pre-sovereign America.
Before filming, Day-Lewis moved to the Alabama wilderness, where he lived in isolation. He hunted everything he ate. Michael Mann once said, “if he didn’t shoot, he didn’t eat” regarding Day-Lewis while they were shooting the film.
Adrian Brody – The Pianist (2002)
Brody started his acting career in the early 90’s, but it was until the 21st century that his star shown brightly. He even became the only actor to bag the academy award for the best actor under 30. In his preparation for his role as Jew pianist and holocaust victim in the pianist, Brody practiced the piano four hours a day. His goal was to learn to play passages by Frederic Chopin, which he did.
In a bid to share in the suffering of his character as the holocaust victim, Brody sold his car and apartment and moved to Europe with absolutely nothing but two bags and a piano. He even stopped using phones and any form of technology. He lost 28 pounds to fit in his role.
Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Whitaker does not fail to surprise us with his acting skills in every film. He rose to stardom since his role in “platoon,” after which he has demonstrated extraordinary skills in his acting career.
His role as Idi Amin in the last king of Scotland was out rightly mind-blowing. He plays the brutal dictator, Idi Amin in Uganda in this film. He gained 44 pounds before shooting the film. He even learned two of Uganda’s local dialect to ensure he remained in character at all times. No one could speak to him outside set until he was done shooting the film.
Marlon Brandon – The Men (1950)
We cannot complete the best method of acting examples without a mention of Marlon Brandon. His work in the men was outstanding. Brandon was a method actor fresh out of Strasberg and Adler’s method mecca before being featured in the men. He used the Stanislavsky system of method acting throughout his career.
In the men, which was his first movie role, he plays the character of a wounded soldier in the hospital. Brandon set camp in a veteran hospital for a full month before filming to prepare himself psychologically for the role.
Robert De Niro – Raging Bull (1980)
De Niro is a name to reckon with for every cinema lover. Roberto de Niro has given us extraordinary performances in cinema for close to half a century. He has played all his characters full of charisma and intensity, making him one of the best method actors in history.
His role in the raging bull as a violent boxer Jake La Motta saw de Niro gain 60 pounds to be in character. He also underwent hard boxing training, which was administered to him by LaMotte. By the time they were in shooting, the director was afraid that de Niro was putting his life on the in when he started to suffer from respiratory diseases due to excessive weightlifting. The director had to shut down production for a while.