Great actors can always make a good performance, with little to know prep time. Given that few months notice, and you get some truly memorable feats. Not just of acting, but of endurance and sometimes lunacy.
10. Heath Ledger
While some might take the late Heath Ledger’s final role of Joker as a simple psychopath, Heath went one step further. In order to develop the Clown Prince of Crime’s mannerisms and madness, Heath spent six weeks alone in a hotel, as isolated as he could get from the outside world. While secluded, he got little sleep and took several prescription drugs, to help add to the insanity.
9. The Cast of Saving Private Ryan
All eight actors playing the squad sent to save Private Ryan had to attend an intense boot camp, including: a military physical, camping in poor conditions, and other wonderful team building activities. When they voted to quit, illustrious actor Tom Hanks over ruled them, like a proper commanding officer.
Matt Damon was the exception, however, as he played the namesake Private. Spielberg hoped this would result in the cast resenting him, and the camera would catch some of that genuine hatred.
Whiplash in Iron Man 2 reminds us how dangerous preparations can be. Adopting a Slovakian accent before hand, Mickey learned all of his lines in Russian, visited a Moscow prison (and Russian prisons still remember the Gulag times), and paid for the characters gold tooth and pet bird out of his own pocket. All to get one of the most bizarre villains in the MCU just right.
7. The Cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The actors for this famed film spent several days living in the Orgeon State Hosptial and interact with real mental patients. Some of them made it into the film as extras! With a cast of unknowns (at the time, and excepting Jack Nicholson), who was a performer and who was patient was a game for the audience and the characters.
6. Christian Bale
For the Machinist , Mr. Bale took weight loss for a role to the extreme. In order to play an insomniac gone mad, he loss 63 pounds and ate only a can of tuna and an apple a day, with a number of cigarettes to curb his appetite. Bale didn’t want to stop there, but the producers of the film feared for his health. Can’t have an actor die on set, can we?
More extraordinarily, Bale’s body bounced back in under a year, for his first appearance as the Batman.
5. Daniel Day Lewis
In My Left Foot, Daniel Day Lewis proved he was the king of method acting. Daniel wouldn’t leave his wheelchair between takes and insisted on getting help for everyday activities, but that pales in comparison to his ultimate act. In order to maintain his hunched over position (his character suffers cereberal palsy in the film), Daniel broke two of his own ribs. The self mutilation paid off, however, as the role earned Daniel an Oscar.
4. Harrison Ford
Rumors persist that Ford helped an open heart surgery in preparation for his role in The Fugitive, no doubt feeding constant jokes in medical dramas. What is certain, however, is that Ford damaged a ligament on set. Instead of seeking medical attention for a serious injury, Ford delayed any treatment and incorporated the limp into his performance.
3. Halley Berry
Spike Lee original thought Berry to attractive for her first film role, a crack addict in Jungle Fever. In order to prove her dedication to the role, Berry went without showering or bathing for her ten days on set. Feeling dirty and uncomfortable supposedly helped Berry get into character. But the stench must have been appalling on those final days of shooting.
2.Robert De Niro
After being cast in Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro spent a month working fifteen hour days as cabbie. Despite having one an Oscar that year for his preformance in the Godfather, DeNiro was only recognized once. He also deeply studied PTSD, in order to better capture the mind of a Veitnam war vet. All this to help Travis Bickle emerge as one of cinmea’s iconic characters.
1. Jared Leto
Another Joker’s rolling up this time. In order to stand out from the posthumous Oscar award winning performance of Ledger and the beloved Nicholson performance, Leto had to go to extremes. Leto not only helped design the Joker, but refused to break character through out the shooting process. This, coupled with his strange gifts to his fellow actors based on their roles, severally disturbed many on production. The results are still out, as Suicide Squad awaits release.