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Manchester Regional High School

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Manchester Regional High School

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Top Ten Actors Who Went to Extremes for their Movie Role


Acting is a hard, thought-provoking job because the toughest thing about being an actor is bringing your role and the movie itself to life. You need to come off as believable, realistic, and relatable to the audience to at least be a decent enough character. But, there are actors out there that want to bring the audience’s experience of watching a movie come full circle even if that means being the real deal. LITERALLY. Actors have done many things for their roles in movies and one of those things is making their scenes as realistic as possible. Personally if I was an actor, I wouldn’t do any of these things but you do what you gotta do to make the audience feel the actions of the characters. Here are the top ten actors who have done crazy things for movies to make a particular scene or to make a movie more realistic (In no particular order):

  1. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (Joker)

Heath Ledger’s Joker will never ever be forgotten by those who have watched ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Ledger played the Joker exceptionally well with him being many people’s favorite character of the movie. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ due to his passing back in 2008. But the preparation and process of Heath Ledger getting ready to play Joker in the film wasn’t all cupcakes and rainbows. For his role, Heath had isolated himself in a hotel room for about six weeks to experiment with the Joker and work on his character like how the Joker acts, how he sounds, and he tried to really understand this character. Even though he pulled it off and is an iconic character in the film, this led to the downfall of Heath Ledger because it took a toll on his mental state and his sleep. He could go days without sleep and at the most got around two hours a sleep on some days. Maybe all this wasn’t worth it for a movie, but he became an icon and his Joker still lives on to be considered the best by most people. I personally loved Heath Ledger’s Joker and he did a stellar job with the character and is probably the best part of the entire film.

  1. Radha Mitchell – Silent Hill (Rose Da Silva)

Silent Hill is a huge name in the gaming industry and remains as one of the best horror franchises to date. It was amazing at the time and really delivered on the horror experience to many. It became a huge thing after the first Silent Hills release back in 1999, and even bigger after Silent Hill 2’s release in 2001 for the Sony PlayStation 2. Later in 2006, Silent Hill got a movie that did very well because of the games. The cast and crew brought Silent Hill to life really well with its great atmosphere and iconic town. Even more so, the main lead Rose Da Silva played by Radha Mitchell also really tried to take her own spin on things with the character. To add to the survival and dirty look to Rose after all her character has been through in the film, she didn’t wash her hair throughout the entire making and production process of Silent Hill. Can you imagine not washing your hair for an entire film production process? It would feel disgusting, weird, and it’d itch all the time. But, she did add to the survival aspect of the film and Mitchell did a good job in the film with believable acting and a clear motivation after entering Silent Hill. 

  1. Tom Cruise – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Ethan Hunt)

Tom Cruise has always been known for making his movies more authentic and real, especially with the Mission: Impossible franchise. Across each film, he’s done something absolutely insane and crazy from climbing the Burj Khalifa tower which is the tallest building in the world (2,722 feet) to jumping across buildings, etc. Though he’s done many amazing stunts that they should honestly give out awards for, the craziest one by far has to be the intro stunt in the film Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. In the introduction to Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise’s character) is trying to stop a plane from shipping nerve gas. Ultimately, it doesn’t work out the way it was intended to. Cruise then actually gets on the flying plane, and hangs off of the side of the plane that goes upwards of 1,000 feet in the air. No parachute, no string, NOTHING. Just Cruise hoping he doesn’t lose grip of the plane. Cruise literally has a death wish. Was it worth it? Definitely not worth losing your life over, but he’s still alive and the movie turned out to be stellar so it worked out in the end. As always, Tom Cruise is amazing and the Mission: Impossible films are top-tier.

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  1. Christian Bale – The Machinist (Trevor Reznik)

Christian Bale is an amazing actor who would change drastically for a role in a film. We’ve seen it in other films like The Dark Knight franchise, gaining weight for the film Exodus: Gods and Kings, and losing weight again for The Fighter. In this particular film though, Bale does probably the most he’s ever done to himself for a role. In the film ‘The Machinist’, Bale plays a machinist who has delusion and paranoia due to him not being able to sleep for an entire year. For the movie Chrisitan Bale had lost 63 pounds, put himself on a low-calorie diet, and only went through two hours of sleep a day. Prior to preparing for the role, he was 173 pounds and was pretty muscular. He dropped all the way down to 110 pounds just for this role. This took a toll on his health obviously and would take a toll on his sleep, and how he viewed himself. Bale stated that he couldn’t even really look at himself in the mirror. He just acted like his transformation was a completely different person. Though he did a great job in the role, I don’t think he should’ve put his health at risk this much for a movie.

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant (Hugh Glass)

It’s no question that DiCaprio is a great actor and always delivers the film, brings it up to new heights, and he gives his roles something more to the table. Whenever he plays a role, he’s most likely the most memorable part of a movie. But, in this film he really delivers the most realistic and hard to watch experience in a movie. Throughout the film, Hugh Glass (Leo’s character) has to do many hard things to survive. He does pretty crazy things that aren’t a stuntman or any type of CGI. In one scene, Glass has to sleep but there’s a huge blizzard which is something that keeps happening throughout the film. Glass finds an animal carcass, and DiCaprio decided it would be a good idea to sleep in an actual animal carcass for the movie. And no, I’m not joking in the slightest. DiCaprio went inside  an animal carcass and covered his entire body with it. It wasn’t clean either. It had blood and its guts were on the floor. Keep in mind, all of this is real. Side note, DiCaprio also had to deal with getting hypothermia constantly and enduring freezing temperatures because they filmed out in the snow. He also had to swim in freezing cold water too which didn’t help at all. Could Bale have done all that? Actually, probably.

  1. Keanu Reeves – John Wick 

It might not be a surprise to many that John Wick happened to be on here. John Wick has many massive stunts and plenty of proper shooting and aiming to beg the question, “Did anyone train for this movie?”. The answer to that question would be a yes. Keanu never had any stuntman or anybody do the job for him. He always did it himself. During each John Wick film, Keanu has put his heart and soul into the character of John Wick by delivering awesome and memorable action sequences that dwell in the back of mind that I think of from time to time. And Keanu does it all on his own to deliver a genuine, and believable role to the big screen. But this obviously didn’t go without some type of training or learning curve. While preparing for John Wick, Keanu Reeves trained for about 4 months doing stunts and teaching himself how to shoot. He’d do this for 5 days a week for about 8 hours a day. Now, that’s insane! Reeves is one of the few actors who would dedicate themselves to push the limits and add more immersion/realism to these films. Keanu is the reason John Wick is a beloved franchise with ‘John Wick’ probably being the most recognized name in action movie history. He trained in martial arts, stunt driving, and lots of fight choreography. All this to bring John Wick to life.

  1. Robert Pattinson – The Lighthouse (Thomas Howard)

After ‘The Batman”, Pattinson had really blown me away. His performance and portrayal of Batman was top-notch in that film. Pattinson does an amazing job with each role and character he’s given to play as. Examples are as I said ‘The Batman’, ‘Good Time’, ‘High Life’, etc. But one that stood out to me the most was his performance in ‘The Lighthouse’. The Lighthouse is a very dark movie that has many disturbing and gut-wrenching elements that may turn off many viewers. Pattinson takes up the role of Thomas Howard and Thomas Wake (played by Willem Dafoe) who are both trying to maintain and keep their sanity when staying in a lighthouse on a remote island in the 1890s. For this role, Pattinson had to film disturbing scenes and for some of those scenes, he had to manually pee himself and vomit for the film. Pretty disgusting stuff, and on top of him having to already film in a very cold and wet environment, it was pretty uncomfortable and overwhelming. Both him and Dafoe went through a difficult production and filming process. Robert almost even punched the director in the face claiming how it felt like torture just being there. Sound like complete torture alright.

  1. Adrian Brody – The Pianist (Wladyslaw Szpilman)

In my eyes, Adrian Brody is a pretty underrated actor to me. He does a terrific job with whatever he’s given, and has major dedication to these roles. His performances are convincing enough in movies such as ‘The Thin Red Line’, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’Midnight in Paris’, and more. He serves as great supporting roles for those movies, but ‘The Pianist’ is probably his best and most convincing, emotional, and intense role he’s ever taken on for a movie. The Pianist follows a fellow Jewish Pianist as the title ensues, named Wladyslaw Szpilman which is a name I cannot say for the life of me. In preparation for the role, Adrien Brody had gone on a crash diet and lost 30 pounds. He went from 160 pounds all the way to 130 pounds which is crazy, but nothing compared to Bale’s weight loss. Brody had to do this because he needed to weigh and look like his character. Wladyslaw Szpilman was a ways below him in terms of weight so Adrien did what he had to do. 

  1. Ryan Gosling – Blue Valentine (Dean)

Until I had heard of ‘Blue Valentine’, I didn’t think of Gosling as the lover boy type in a movie. I always saw him as the action hero in movies like ‘The Nice Guys’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049’. He just never struck me as that kind of guy, but I guess he is. He’s been in other romance movies before like the classic that many adore called ‘The Notebook’ and the critically acclaimed ‘La La Land’.  Gosling took it a step further though with the movie Blue Valentine. To get closer and gain more intimacy with the main love interest Cindy (played by Michelle Williams), they opted for something rather unusual. For the film both the actors had lived together for about a month so they could get to know each other better and grasp that intimacy and love between the two. Though this wasn’t unusual for the two as they were okay with trying to bring the movie together and to life a little more. Though this wasn’t anything too coo-coo, I put it on here because I wanted to show the lengths actors would go to, to achieve goals for a film. The two tried to make their relationship a little more authentic by trying to fake events like setting up a Christmas tree or making birthday cakes for each other to really build those memories with each other, so when the filming started it would feel like they’ve actually known each other for a while. And quite frankly, it paid off. 

  1. Joaquin Phoenix – The Master (Freddie Quell)

Finally, one of the best actors is Joaquin Phoenix. Might I say that Phoenix probably has the most versatile roles and can probably play anybody he wants to. First off, he made a stellar and disturbingly scary Joker who in my opinion is a bit better than Heath Ledger’s Joker. Of course, I love both but this man just sold it for me he killed the role. He has real, genuine dedication for roles that he’s cast in and ‘The Master’ is no exception. Joaquin plays a traumatized WWII veteran named Freddie Quell who’s having trouble adjusting to this new society after the war. In the movie, Freddie Quell is supposed to have speech issues throughout the film and in order to make this more authentic and real, Joaquin had wired his mouth shut to fit those speech patterns. During the movie, you will notice the way he talks and moves his mouth looking a bit off and weird, this is why. But it worked out considering the movie’s success and of course this man continues to do an unforgettable job in each role he partakes in, and this one is no exception. Joaquin Phoenix is truly amazing.

All of these actors brought something new and interesting to the table for each film. They all had stellar performances and great emotion. They all understood their source material and what they did with it to bring it to fruition was beyond unbelievable. We had people hanging on airplanes, wiring mouths shut, living with each other, being unsanitary, going mentally insane, and more. Each actor made their movies more immersive and realistic with these little things that audiences wouldn’t notice first or even at all. But alas, these were the top ten picks for actors who did crazy things for their roles.

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