10 Actors Who Went Too Far On Set

The madness of method actors.

Jared Leto Joker
Warner Bros.

Everyone goes above and beyond in their line of work on occasion, and this is certainly true of Hollywood's finest.

From method thespians who literally became the character they were playing, to on-set meltdowns that hint at the industry's dark underbelly, the results can be spectacular and terrifying in equal measure when actors take things that bit too far.

The lengths certain method actors have gone to for their roles is enough to make your head spin. Some have refused to bathe for weeks to get into the mindset of an unsavoury protagonist while others have crossed the line between madness and sanity for a psychopath role. Often going to these extremes has resulted in genuine authenticity and Academy Awards, but at other times nothing but awkwardness among the cast and crew, and years of bad PR for the star involved.

That said, it isn't just the method actors who have taken things too far on set. There are times when stars you wouldn't tar with this brush have gone off-script and lost their sh*t for a moment, only for the entire incident to form part of the final cut.

10. Dustin Hoffman - Kramer Vs. Kramer

Jared Leto Joker
Columbia Pictures

Meryl Streep is a star of rare talent, the kind who can channel anguish and raw emotion on demand when a scene demands it, without being struck in the face beforehand. But just in case she was incapable that, her Kramer Vs. Kramer co-star Dustin Hoffman slapped her right before they were due to shoot a sequence together.

Hoffman has a reputation as an extreme method actor. When he was filming Marathon Man, he's said to have arrived on set off the back of four-mile jogs, and while shooting Rain Man he spent weeks studying developmental disorders, and walking and talking like his character. For Kramer vs Kramer, though, he decided physical assault was an effective way to draw a charged performance out of his colleague.

The Midnight Cowboy star is also alleged to have goaded Streep on set throughout production, in the hope that she would tap into her growing resentment for him and use it on screen. He'd probably argue it was mission accomplished since both he and his co-star won Oscars for the legal drama, but Streep fans will tell you she didn't need to be struck and insulted to deliver an award-winning performance.


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