There are all sorts of acting. Each one has a different history, technique and origin. This article will be your go-to guide about Method Acting. From its origin to the best Method Acting examples, you’ll find it all here.
What is Method Acting?
Let us begin with a brief introduction to Method Acting. It is a technique used by actors for a fully expressive performance. It calls for the actor to become emotionally attached to the role that he or she is playing up until the point when they are themselves that role/character. Therefore, the actors can stay in character for a prolonged period of time, potentially resulting in a change in the actors’ behaviour.
Origin and history of Method Acting
Konstantin Stanislavski was a Russian theatre practitioner in the early 1900s who is credited with the creation and development of this technique. One thing to note here is that Stanislavski did not directly use the term ‘Method Acting’ but his techniques are similar to the ones we use in Method Acting today. This technique was developed as Stanislavski wanted the actors to feel the character. He wanted them to understand the meaning behind every movement of the character. He desired the actors to give out a more naturalistic performance which was the trend at the time.
Later on in the 1930s, a group of theatre practitioners further developed Stanislavski’s method.
Pros and cons of Method Acting
This is such a great technique that the audience gets completely lost within the character. The character’s world and their actions. It is indeed very rewarding but there is nothing that comes with only pros. There are some cons of it too. Here is a short column summarising the pros and cons of Method Acting.
Allows the actor to fully immerse themselves in their roles.
Helps the actor to create an amazing performance with full emotion.
|Certain traits of the character stick with the actor forever. It gets difficult to get rid of it. |
If the character is underdeveloped, then it might affect the performance in a negative manner.
Famous Method Actors with examples
Now you might have understood a bit about Method Acting. To know more about it, one needs to see examples. Understanding about it is incomplete without seeing proper examples. Since just reading about it is not enough, here are a few examples of famous method actors and their roles.
- Robert De Niro in ‘Taxi Driver’
We cannot start the list without mentioning Robert De Niro’s role in Taxi Driver. Robert De Niro picked up and dropped off passengers in New York City during breaks on set, as a way to prepare for the role. A copy of De Niro’s license was also released by the Taxi and Limousine Commission after his license expired on 31 May 1976, four months after the film’s release.
2. Adrien Brody in ‘The Pianist‘
Adrien Brody lost 30 lbs. and become almost skeletal when he transformed into his role as Szpilman. He even gave up most of his worldly possessions, including his car and phone, and retreated into seclusion. As per a statement given by him, he did all this to experience loneliness and loss.
3. Heath Ledger in ‘The Dark Knight’
To prepare himself for the role of Joker in the movie ‘The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger went through many hardships. Ledger had locked himself in a hotel room for almost a month, in total isolation. During his time locked up in the room, he had a notebook with him. In that notebook, he used to scribble all sorts of dark thoughts. This has helped him a lot to get into his character.
4. Christian Bale in ‘The Machinist’
The Machinist was first released in 2005 but even today, this film is very unsettling and uncomfortable to watch. After its release, Christian Bale was immensely praised for this acting skills. But again, it was not easy for the actor to get into the character. There were scarifies and hardships behind his incredible performance. It is reported that Bale went on a diet of just coffee, water and an apple a day for almost four months. He still was not satisfied with his weight loss results and embarked on another diet. This time, he wanted to lose weight by cutting off any sort of social gatherings which would prevent him from binge eating. Fortunately, the filmmaker stopped him from losing weight furthermore.
5. Robert De Niro in ‘The Raging Bull’
Robert De Niro’s name is being repeated again in this list as he is among one of the best known Method Actors in history. But this time we are taking a look at his performance in the movie ‘The Raging Bull’. De Niro’s role was of a violent boxer Jake La Motta. He gained almost 60 lbs to play this role. He underwent boxing lessons from La Motta himself. While the movie shoot was going on, the director was very concerned regarding De Niro’s health because he was beginning to suffer from respiratory diseases. This is because of the excessive weightlifting he did to get into the character and feel its emotions completely.
Finally, I would sum up this article that this is an incredible technique and has resulted in some of the greatest masterpieces. But this isn’t always the case. At times, it has blurred the line between insanity and acting. Actors and the people around them have been hurt due to it. There are many instances where the worst case scenario has happened. Sometimes, the actor is not able to get out of the character or lose its traits. Certain actors would go lengths in the pursuit to get into the character. But if done with the right teachnique and training, Method Acting is actually wonderful!