Acting may seem like a professional game of pretend, but some roles have blurred the line between fiction and reality for actors. Your favorite films have taken some of the best actors past their breaking points - even to death. Taking one's craft seriously is important, but pushing the limits too far can drive a person insane. Which of your favorite actors have given a bit too much for their art?
Hollywood is full of glitz and glam, but it's also full of tales of insanity, woe, and death. Some method actors have taken their process way too far, while others had roles so traumatizing they were never the same again. What were the roles that pushed actors to the limit? Get the rundown right here.
The Shining is widely regarded as one of best horror films of all time. Jack Nicholson's performance is still lauded as nothing less than brilliant and the story drags you into the turmoil that is the Overlook Hotel. However, what you might not have known is that actress Shelley Duvall, who played Wendy Torrance, wasn't faking her cries in the famous baseball bat scene. Director Stanley Kubrick had her redo the traumatizing scene over a hundred times and worked her to her limit. She walked away from that experience with a supreme dislike for Kubrick and a forever altered mind.
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You would think that a movie produced by the one and only Steven Spielberg might have room in its budget for a fake skeleton or two. You would be wrong. In the scene in Poltergeist where actress JoBeth Williams swims in a disgusting pool filled with bones and skulls, she isn't taking a dive with some props - she's swimming with real dead bodies. Unlike other filmmakers who go for the real deal in order to get a more pure reaction from the actor, this was simply a matter of finances. Williams has gone on record saying that she would come home from the set after that experience to find all the picture frames on her walls to be crooked. Moral of the story: don't have extra cash? Throw some human remains in there and call it a day. You'll be fine...
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It was one of the biggest jokes of the acting community for years that Leonardo DiCaprio hadn't managed to earn himself at least one Academy Award for his many incredible and influential performances. He finally won an Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Hugh Glass in The Revenant, but it came with a heavy cost. Not only did his character have to survive the extreme cold by sleeping inside dead animals and eating raw pieces of meat, but so did DiCaprio. The footage you see when watching the film is, for the most part, made of real experiences and DiCaprio's visceral reactions to them. The beloved actor stated in an interview with Wired, "If a cat has nine lives, I think I’ve used a few."
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Alfred Hitchcock was a director that can never be matched. He is studied constantly in collegiate film classes for the way he revolutionized the industry. But while Psycho might be one of your favorite classics, the same definitely wasn't so for Janet Leigh, the actress who played victim Marion Crane. After being "stabbed" in the shower when she was totally naked and vulnerable, Leigh developed a phobia of showers. She reportedly only took baths after that, was always sure to keep the curtain open, and faced the door at all times.
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The Conjuring is the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren's experiences with the demonic realm and it makes for an absolutely thrilling plot. Patrick Wilson, who played Ed Warren (and who was also part of the Insidious franchise) didn't initially put too much stock in anything supernatural. But that changed when The Conjuring 2 came around. Wilson himself may not be much of a paranormal investigator, but it seems as though the paranormal has begun investigating him. He and a few others who have stayed in his home have reported hearing inexplicable childish laughter at night. Believe now?
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If you've ever seen the horror classic Rosemary's Baby, you'll know just how much actress Mia Farrow and her character had to suffer through. What you might not know, though, is that she was a vegetarian. Okay. Common enough. But that's not the bad part. The bad part occurred when she was forced to eat a piece of raw liver to get the scene that director Roman Polanski wanted. And she didn't just have to do it once, but several times to get the right take. Can you say "scarred for life"?
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Yup, Alfred Hitchcock sure was a master of suspense. However, like many directors mentioned in this list, he sometimes took filming a little bit too far. One famous example of this is in his acclaimed film The Birds. In the final scene when Tippi Hedren is attacked by droves of birds, the actress isn't playing around. Those aren't fake props. Alfred Hitchcock actually threw dozens of birds at Hedren to get as real a take as possible. She has since been very vocal about the scene and her experience with the film and with Hitchcock, describing it as nothing short of "brutal."
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Patrick Wilson wasn't the only actor on the set of The Conjuring to have some supernatural experiences. Vera Farmiga, Wilson's co-star who played Lorraine Warren, has divulged some creepy information about strange happenings that occurred during filming. The first one happened during pre-production. After she got off the phone with director James Wan and formally accepted the role, she opened her laptop to find three digital claw marks across her screen. Anyone who has watched one too many episodes of A Haunting will know that this is recognized as a sign of demonic activity. The three claw marks showed up again when Farmiga finished filming the movie. This time, they appeared as scratches and bruises on her thigh.
#104 on The Best Actresses Working Todaysee more on Vera Farmiga