Weird History

12 Times Method Actors Took It A Bit Too Far Playing Historical Figures 

Jordan Breeding
Updated November 5, 2019 27.1k views 12 items

There are more than a few extreme method actors in Hollywood. While many performers impersonate someone else for a short period, method actors attempt to become their characters.

Many method actors pour their efforts into authentically portraying real-life historical figures. Occasionally, though, transforming into these intense characters is detrimental, affecting their health, the quality of their performance, or both. It's easy to take this acting too far - even if doing so nets the celeb additional critical acclaim. The method approach can make a movie more realistic or compelling, but sometimes it's just too much.

Fear and Loathing in Las... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 12 Times Method Actors Took It A Bit Too Far Playing Historical Figures
Photo:  Universal Pictures

To prepare for his role as Raoul Duke, Hunter S. Thompson's alter ego in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny Depp moved into Thompson's house and became the author's student. Hunter S. Thompson was a little eccentric, though. Case in point: He lived in a basement with barrels of live gunpowder.

Depp worked hard to mimic the man, including waking up at 9 pm and following Thompson's unconventional daily - or nightly, in this case - routine. The actor also allowed Thompson to shave his head and borrowed the writer's old clothes, which allegedly weren't washed in 30 years.

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Ray is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 12 Times Method Actors Took It A Bit Too Far Playing Historical Figures
Photo:  Universal Pictures

Renowned musician Ray Charles was blind since childhood. Consequently, for 14 hours a day, Jamie Foxx chose to sacrifice his sight. The actor glued his eyelids together for the role. Foxx wanted to accurately portray Charles for the 2004 film, Ray, even if this meant handling temporary blindness.

He also lost 30 pounds to capture Charles's essence further.

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The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 12 Times Method Actors Took It A Bit Too Far Playing Historical Figures
Photo:  Paramount Pictures

What is the most critical thing to emulate when depicting a famous gangster? Should you eat the type of food they ate, live where they lived, or indulge in the same vices? Is it essential to meet their relatives, or watch old interviews and court footage to learn how they acted? Or should you wear their underwear?

Robert De Niro placed importance on wearing the same underwear as his character. To prepare for his role as Al Capone in The Untouchables, he wore distinct silk underwear - the type Capone reportedly preferred - during the film's entire production.

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Jobs is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 12 Times Method Actors Took It A Bit Too Far Playing Historical Figures
Photo:  Open Road Films

Steve Jobs had an interesting relationship with traditional Western views of health and nutrition. Later in life, he developed fatal pancreatic cancer. Some people believe his reluctance to use Western medicine contributed to his early death.

Whatever the case, Ashton Kutcher replicated Jobs's fruit-based diet while preparing for the biopic Jobs, and ended up in the hospital. At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Kutcher noted:

First of all, the fruitarian diet can lead to... some severe issues. I ended up in the hospital like two days before we started shooting the movie. I was... doubled over in pain. My pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which was really terrifying... considering everything.