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10 Actors Who Seriously Suffered For A Role

Updated April 30, 2019 873.2k views10 items

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. 

  • Photo: Warner Bros.

    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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  • Photo: MGM

    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...

  • Photo: 20th Century Fox

    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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  • Photo: Paramount Pictures

    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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