I LOVE method acting, it's fun, it's addicting and you get to relive someone else's life. I have certain respect for actors who stick to this method, in healthy ways.
Method acting helps actors win awards and get nominated. Not all of them, but most.
Think of Adrian Brody in "The Pianist". He completely lost himself while portraying the role of Szpilman. He got on a strict diet, sold his apartment, gave up his cell phone and most of his possessions. Adrian Brody learned how to play piano and would study 4 hours every day playing Chopin. Method acting helped him become the youngest person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.
What about Hillary Swank? She showed up to an audition for "Boys don't cry" in her husband's clothes and booked the part. She was relatively unknown at that time and look where she is now!
Swank dressed and walked like a man for months to prepare for the role of Brandon Teens, trans man who was raped and murdered in 1993. She didn't just play dress up, she taped her breasts, cut her hair, lost weight to make her cheekbones more define, along with putting socks in the crotch area. Even her neighbours were fooled. They thought Hilary's brother came to visit! After the movie, Hilary won an Oscar and became a household name.
Now, let's get to the ugly part.
Jared Leto. I used to like that guy, but his movies and his insane methods for method acting...well, it's not good. Not to mention he is a cult leader and a pedophile. No one in Hollywood cares, but that's another subject for another day.
To prepare for the role of The Joker for "Suicide Squad", he sent his co-stars used condoms, dead rats along with other gnarly stuff.
Why? What did he achieve by that? He was also acting like a narcissistic asshole on the set. No wonder they cut most of his scenes.
Daniel Day- Lewis. Three-time Oscar winner, amazing actor who goes to great lengths to prepare for the part.
Unlike that one time when he prepared for the role of Christy Brown, an Irish writer and painter who had cerebral palsy, and was able to write or type only with the toes of one foot. On and off set Daniel Day-Lewis would be in a wheelchair, and few times he even urinated himself, and some unlucky crew member had to clean him up. There are times when you have to be in the character and then there are times when you're just being an asshole. Sorry, Daniel.
Going overboard, over-the-top, being a narcissist douchebag IS NOT part of method acting.
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Actors who constantly take classes already should know how to prepare for the role. Is it necessary to go for extreme measures for the part in film, that might or might NOT turn out to be a flop? There are many fantastic actors out there who don't use this method, and they're doing very well for themselves.
I asked fellow actors what they thought about this method, and here's what they stated.
Jasmine says: "I use it and in my opinion it’s the best technique. If a person can bring their life into a role, and relive their experience, that’s when magic happens."
Jamie notes: "I think method acting is very much overblown and sensationalized. Any inquisitive actor worth their weight already employs method acting techniques instinctually.
All it boils down to is an actor doing what they feel is necessary to gain confidence for a role. And that varies from actor to actor. But anyone taking it to the level of harassment or Jared Leto style is simply a childish idiot and a narcissist . A professional can turn it off at anytime."
Shannon replies: "My process should NEVER be anyone else’s problem. Not the crew, not the director, not even my scene partner(s). I NEVER tell people around me not to talk to me between takes or refer to me by my character’s name… or make those around me feel like they have to walk on eggshells after an intense take. To me, that’s bush league, amateurish and it gives real method actors a bad rep."
Bryan's take: "Method acting ranges from Stanislavski, to Meisner, to Uta Hagen(which is the method I am trained in.) In my opinion all of the method acting approaches are great. Even in the Uta Hagen training I was taught to not lose myself in a character, but rather to find myself in a character. To find the ways in which I am similar to the character and to use real experiences from my life to relate to the character."
So, there you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly.
If you want to know more about Method Acting, check out these fun articles!