If you want to receive an award for your acting work in film, what used to be the surefire way to get it was supplementing your role with method acting. What was once a tried-and-true way to win prestigious awards within the community is now seen as a transparent scourge, used as a means to justify one’s poor behavior on set.
Most recently, Jared Leto has come under fire for his behavior on the set of Morbius. Leto took it upon himself to apply method acting to the latest Sony Pictures film, and the lengths he went through to live like Dr. Michael Morbius were not seen as entirely reasonable. Leto insisted on relying on crutches, and behaving as if he himself were living with an incurable blood disease.
He also went as far as putting his health in jeopardy, and looking “vampiric” to match the bodily aesthetic his character suffered with. Leto’s pseudo-disability caused many production backups, with his mobility being stifled, and his bathroom breaks lasting upwards of an hour — due to needing major assistance going to and from the bathroom.
What is method acting?
Method acting, known more commonly as method, was developed as an acting system by Russian theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski. The origins of this system began with organizing the 3 factors in an actor’s performance: Training, preparation, and rehearsal. It cultivated what Stanislavski called the “art of experiencing,” in contrast to the “art of representation.”
Without getting too deep into the theatre talk, in layman’s terms, method acting requires an actor to live and breathe the character they are portraying, and blur the lines between where they (as an actor) start, and where the character ends. We’re talking about full immersion into the character.
Usually, an actor will step out of character as soon as the director yells “cut,” but when method acting is applied, the actor stays in character, walks around set in character, and leaves for the day in character.
While it calls for full immersion, this could manifest in a bunch of different ways. It could be something drastic, like losing and/or gaining unhealthy amounts of weight, like Tom Hanks in preparation for his role in Cast Away. It could also look something like keeping an accent on at all times, like Lady Gaga for her role as Patrizia Reggiani in House of Gucci.
Actors who are against method acting
Since the news of Leto’s behavior became viral, many actors have been asked about their views on method acting. Fantastic Beasts actor Mads Mikkelsen shared his views with GQ UK with a strong but clear introductory statement, “It’s bullsh*t.”
He continues by saying, “But preparation, you can take into insanity. What if it’s a sh*t film — what do you think you achieved? Am I impressed that you didn’t drop character? You should have dropped it from the beginning! How do you prepare for a serial killer? You gonna spend two years checking it out? I’m having a cigarette? This is from 2020, it’s not from 1870 – can you live with it?”
Will Poulter, the newest addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy cast list, also chimed in and told The Independent that the way an actor chooses to approach a role is up to them so long as their choice doesn’t impact the production and those involved in any negative fashion. Other actors like Sebastian Stan (Fresh, Falcon and the Winter Solider) and Robert Pattinson (The Batman) seem to be under the impression that it gives off a sense of “self-importance,” and is only generally used when the character they are portraying is “an a-hole.”
Skip Morbius if you haven’t seen it yet. Here’s the next villain we think will make their MCU debut soon.
Photos via Marvel