Method acting has been a divisive thespian technique since its invention in the early 20th century. The notion that actors must fully inhabit a role, to live the lives of their characters in order to properly capture the experience in their performance, is paramount to the success of many of film’s good and great.
To other, more traditional actors, it’s merely a crutch, a fad. You show up and you play your character - that’s just your job.
Still, there’s no denying that some great performances have come from the Method school, and even if everything the actors have gone through doesn’t make it to the screen, there’s enough residual verisimilitude there to make it worthwhile.
Sometimes, though, actors take things to the extreme. Whether they’re remaining in a role to such a degree that everyone else on set hates them, putting in a lot of work for a film that hardly seems worthwhile, or just putting themselves through something heinous, dedicated Methodologists have been pushing the boat out for many a year now. Being an actor can seem like a privileged and cushy kind of life - not always, it’s not.
10. Jared Leto... Well You Know - Suicide Squad
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Jared Leto, whose casting as the Joker seemed like a potential cash cow for years to come, but who has been quickly usurped in the public eye by Joaquin Phoenix. The new Arthur Dent, famously private, likely won’t be sharing his preparation secrets, but Leto’s were well publicised - and interesting.
Leto decided that The Joker was a character worth living and breathing in order to access the intricacies of what amounts to a violent clown who laughs a lot. He sent a live rat to co-star Margo Robbie. He sent the entirety of the cast a dead hog (with the exception of Viola Davis, who had made it abundantly clear that she would not react well to such hijinks).
By all accounts Leto found himself deep inside the character, so much so that Will Smith stated he felt he had not met the real Jared during their time working together. Disappointingly for Leto, the Joker doesn’t actually get that much screen time, and the film is stolen by Margo Robbie, who managed to create a memorable character without all this nonsense.