13 Intense Movie Performances That Are Incredibly Difficult To Watch

The best films leave scars.

The Machinist Christian Bale
Paramount Classics

For all of the artful and subtle acting performances that permeate Hollywood history, and the critical acclaim that comes with their more restrained art, intensity in acting is as memorable and as important. Obviously, the likes of Al Pacino shouting, or Daniel Day Lewis spitting all over his co-stars in the name of The Method opens such an approach to comic criticism (even when those performances are successful), because it is invariably easier to ape something with bigger characteristics.

The search for intensity has of course also lead to the proliferation of over-acting, even from those actors like Pacino and DeNiro who were previously famed for their intensity, which serves to underline the difficulty in finding the balance between hitting the mark and leaving one and over-egging and turning in a performance more fitting to a pantomime stage.

With those pit-falls acknowledged and avoided, it is important that intensity does not disappear from the acting world in favour of reinforcing the mythology and brand of actors like Ryan Gosling (at least recently), or Channing Tatum. Because there is nothing quite like the feeling of a performance so gripping, that burrows so completely under the audience's skin that is impossible to pull away, but equally difficult to watch without something being left behind.

To celebrate those successes, we're running down some of the most intense Hollywood performances that almost made you want to turn away from the screen...

Executive Editor
Executive Editor

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