Entertainment
409.3k readers

26 Actors Who Stay in Character Off Camera

Updated June 14, 2019 409.3k views26 items

This is a list of actors who stay in character off camera, loosely ranked by fame and popularity. Several famous actors and actresses use the technique of method acting to completely immerse themselves into a role. One actor stayed in character to the point that he took up his character's profession in his off hours and another actor only ate fruit in preparation for a role.

Who is the most famous actor who stays in character off camera? Angelina Jolie tops our list. Jolie got so into method acting for her film Gia that she told her then-husband Jonny Lee Miller that she would not speak to him during filming. "I'm alone; I'm dying; I'm gay; I'm not going to see you for weeks," she said.

Robert De Niro spent weeks driving a cab around New York City to prepare for his role in Taxi Driver. He also gained excessive weight and lived with his co-star Joe Pesci for his role in Raging Bull. Other actors known for staying in character off camera include Daniel Day Lewis, Kate Winslet, and Jim Carrey.

Do you think that these actors take their roles too seriously? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Photo:
  • Jared Leto

    Requiem for a Dream, Dallas Buyers Club
    Jared Leto would arrive on the set of The Dallas Buyers Club already dressed in drag for his role as Rayon.

    More Jared Leto 

    The Most Obnoxious Things Jared Leto Did When He Played The Joker#151 of 250 The Hottest Men Of 2021, Ranked

  • Dustin Hoffman

    Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie
    Dustin Hoffman is rumored to be tough to work with because he is always in character on the set. He even went as far as to deprive himself of sleep to get into the head of his character in Marathon Man.

    More Dustin Hoffman 

    #286 of 339 The Funniest People Of All Time#6 of 115 The Best Short Actors

  • Kate Winslet

    Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Kate Winslet reportedly dove in to her role in The Reader to the point that she had trouble getting back to normal life. She said of the experience: "It's like I've escaped from a serious car accident and need to understand what has just happened."

    More Kate Winslet 

    The Greatest Characters Played by Kate Winslet, Ranked#8 of 349 The Best Actresses In Film History

  • Daniel Day Lewis

    There Will Be Blood, Lincoln
    Daniel Day Lewis is probably the actor best known for staying in character off camera. Reportedly, he would send text messages as "Commander in Chief" and talk on the phone as Abraham Lincoln when he was filming Lincoln.

    More Daniel Day-Lewis 

    13 Daniel Day-Lewis Performances That Prove The Mad Genius Of His Notorious Method#45 of 220 The Greatest British Actors of All Time

  • Donald Glover

    Community, The Martian

    In the Atlanta episode "Teddy Perkins," Donald Glover took on the titular role. Glover insisted on acting in character day and night on set, even having cast and crew members call him Teddy. 

     

    More Donald Glover 

    The Best Childish Gambino Songs, Ranked#26 of 238 The Greatest Rappers Of All Time

  • Angelina Jolie

    Maleficent, Changeling
    Angelina Jolie got so into method acting for her film Gia that she told her then-husband, Johnny Lee Miller, that she would not speak to him during filming. "I'm alone; I'm dying; I'm gay; I'm not going to see you for weeks," she said.

    More Angelina Jolie 

    Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Angelina Jolie#261 of 365 The Most Beautiful Women Of 2021, Ranked

  • Jack Nicholson

    The Shining, The Departed
    Jack Nicholson has said, "There's probably no one who understands method acting better academically than I do, or actually uses it more in his work." He reportedly underwent shock therapy treatment in real life to better understand his character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

    More Jack Nicholson 

    The Greatest Characters Played by Jack Nicholson, Ranked#144 of 162 The Greatest Western Movie Stars

  • Heath Ledger

    10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight's Tale
    It was rumored that Heath Ledger reportedly only spoke to people as the Joker when he was filming The Dark Knight. Although this has since proven to be untrue, it IS true that he spent a month locked in a hotel room practising for the role. He went over dialect, stance and even the inner workings of the characters' mind to the point where he could dip in and out of various character traits. He dove so deep into the madness of the character that he couldn't sleep.

    More Heath Ledger 

    The Best Heath Ledger Movies#82 of 190 The All-Time Greatest Action Stars

  • Michelle Williams

    Dawson's Creek, Blue Valentine
    Michelle Williams began preparation for her role as Marilyn Monroe on and off the set for her film Marilyn. She reportedly bound her legs together to develop Monroe's famous stride.

    More Michelle Williams 

    #61 of 109 The Greatest '90s Teen Stars#56 of 186 The Greatest Actresses Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)

  • Robin Williams

    Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society
    Robin Williams reportedly went around town as Mrs. Doubtfire to stay in character for the role.

    More Robin Williams 

    23 Robin Williams Fans Share Heartwarming Stories About Meeting Their Hero#13 of 22 People Are Tweeting Stories About The Nicest Celebrity They Ever Met And It Is Incredibly Wholesome

  • Nicolas Cage

    Leaving Las Vegas, National Treasure
    Nicolas Cage fully immersed himself in his role for Leaving Las Vegas, and the hard work paid off. Cage won an Academy Award for his performance.

    More Nicolas Cage 

    That Time Nicolas Cage Was Three Weeks Away From Playing Superman12 Bad Nicolas Cage Movies That Are Actually Good

  • Jim Carrey

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Truman Show
    Jim Carrey may be known for his comedic roles, but he is a very serious actor. When he was filming the biopic Man in the Moon, he was always in character as Andy Kaufman or his sidekick Tony Clifton.

    More Jim Carrey 

    Fans Share Theories About Jim Carrey Movie That Are Wild Enough To Be True#197 of 244 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities In The World

  • Marlon Brando

    The Godfather, Apocalypse Now
    Marlon Brando is one of the most well-known practitioners of method acting. He reportedly spent months in bed at a hospital in order to prepare for his role as a paraplegic in The Man.

    More Marlon Brando 

    Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Marlon Brando In 'Apocalypse Now'#17 of 238 Which Actor Would You Bring Back for One Final Movie?

  • Ashton Kutcher

    The Butterfly Effect, That '70s Show
    Ashton Kutcher stayed in character for Jobs to the point that he ended up in the hospital. To better understand his role as Steve Jobs, Kutcher adopted the Apple CEO's fruit-only diet. He said he "...went to the hospital like two days before we started shooting the movie. I was like doubled over in pain. My pancreas levels were completely out of whack."

    More Ashton Kutcher 

    #16 of 26 The Biggest Facepalms in Movie Casting History#50 of 185 The Best Hot Ones Guests Ever

  • Robert De Niro

    Goodfellas, The Godfather: Part II
    Robert De Niro spent weeks driving a cab around New York City to prepare for his role in Taxi Driver. He also gained excessive weight and lived with his co-star, Joe Pesci, for his role in Raging Bull.

    More Robert De Niro 

    The Most Unhinged (And True) Robert De Niro Stories Ever Told#161 of 250 The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked

  • Christian Bale

    The Dark Knight, The Prestige
    Christian Bale is so dedicated to method acting that he lost over 60 pounds for his role in The Machinist.

    More Christian Bale 

    A Chronological Round-Up Of All Christian Bale's Most Dramatic Role Transformations#16 of 45 The Top Casting Choices for the Next James Bond Actor

  • Chloë Sevigny

    American Psycho, Boys Don't Cry
    Chole Sevigny was so dedicated to her role in the film The Brown Bunny that she actually performed a sex act on her co-star Vincent Gallo.

    More Chloë Sevigny 

    #907 of 1,267 Test 7- The Most Beautiful Women in the World#15 of 38 Celebrities Whose Names Are Hardest to Spell

  • Al Pacino

    The Godfather, Scarface
    Al Pacino got so into his role as a blind man for Scent of a Woman that he claimed he could not see anything on the set.

    More Al Pacino 

    16 Crazy-Fascinating Facts You Never Knew About Al Pacino#46 of 362 The Greatest Entertainers Of All Time

  • James Dean

    Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden
    James Dean reportedly annoyed people with his excessive preparation and dedication to his roles. His work often paid off, and he was known to get scenes in one take.

    More James Dean 

    12 Strange Facts Most Fans Don't Even Know About James Dean#59 of 219 The Greatest Actors Who Have Never Won An Oscar (For Acting)

  • Adrien Brody

    The Pianist, The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Adrien Brody sold everything he owned and moved to Europe to get into character for The Pianist. He also deprived himself of food. He says, "There is an emptiness that comes with really starving that I hadn't experienced... I couldn't have acted that without knowing it."

    More Adrien Brody 

    #60 of 113 The Worst Oscar-Winning Actors Ever#328 of 1,883 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

  • Marilyn Monroe

    Some Like It Hot, The Seven Year Itch
    Marilyn Monroe worked with method acting developer Lee Strasberg to hone her craft.

    More Marilyn Monroe 

    What Marilyn Monroe’s Colleagues Said About Working With Her#31 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive

  • Michael Caine considers himself to be a method actor. He says: "the rehearsals are the work; the performance is the relaxation."
  • Jane Fonda

    Nine to Five, Klute
    Jane Fonda was trained in method acting by the man who developed the technique, Lee Strasberg.

    More Jane Fonda 

    When The FBI Went To War With Jane Fonda – And Won#127 of 201 The Best Actresses Working Today

  • Ed Harris

    A Beautiful Mind, Gravity
    Ed Harris built a painting studio at his home so that could completely become Jackson Pollack in the film Pollack. 

    More Ed Harris 

    #51 of 264 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today#44 of 1,017 The Best Actors In Film History

  • Joaquin Phoenix

    Gladiator, Walk the Line
    Joaquin Phoenix always dives into a role, but he went all in for his 2010 mockumentary I'm Still Here. He appeared disheveled and confused during interviews and he successfully convinced people that he was losing his mind.

    More Joaquin Phoenix 

    14 Heartbreaking Stories From Joaquin Phoenix's Tragic Family#56 of 56 Celebrities You're Sick Of In 2021