10. Sylvester Stallone – Rocky
Sylvester Stallone was born in Hell’s Kitchen in 1946. After a difficult upbringing, some of which was spent in foster care, he dropped out of college to pursue acting. He struggled to make ends meet, getting only a few uncredited roles. He even appeared in an adult film called The Party at Kitty and Stud’s.
9. Jim Carrey – Man on the Moon
8. Christian Bale – The Machinist
Christian Bale is known for altering his appearance for the various roles he’s played throughout his career. He got ripped in American Psycho and Reign of Fire, then starved himself for Rescue Dawn. He bulked up for The Dark Knight, only to lose weight again for his role in The Fighter. But he went to the extreme for the role of Trevor Reznik, an insomniac who starts to doubt his own sanity, in The Machinist.
7.One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Adapted from Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is regarded as one of the best films in history, winning the “Big Five” Oscars. Jack Nicholson stars as a criminal who pleads insanity to avoid prison and then rebels against the oppressive hospital staff. Not well known about the film is that many extras and even some crews were actual patients and staff members in the Oregon State Psychiatric Hospital, where the movie was filmed. For instance, the character Dr. John Spivey is played by Dr. Dean Brooks, the real superintendent at the hospital.
6. Adrien Brody – The Pianist
Roman Polanski hand-picked Adrien Brody to play the role of a Jewish piano player struggling to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto during WWII, in a story based on true events. In order to prepare for the film, he lost 30 pounds in just six weeks. He put himself on a strict diet of a couple boiled eggs, a small piece of fish or chicken, and some steamed vegetables. His quick weight loss put him in a cranky mood, which helped in developing his character even further. And as the title of the movie suggests, Brody practiced playing the piano four hours each day.
5. Robert De Niro – Cape Fear
Martin Scorsese’s decision to direct this remake of a classic ’60s thriller came as little shock to anyone familiar with his work. Themes like corruption and guilt, mixed with violence, criminals, and conflicted outsiders have always been right up his alley. After receiving critical acclaim for movies like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas, Cape Fear proved to be a wise move on the director’s part. The story follows a convicted rapist who begins to stalk the family of the lawyer who unsuccessfully defended him.
4. Joaquin Phoenix – I’m Still Here
Remember that weird period when Joaquin Phoenix seemed to have lost his mind? He made bizarre talk show appearances, sporting an overgrown beard and talking about giving up acting to become a rapper. The hosts, not sure how to handle him, would politely chortle with a perplexed look on their faces. And then he actually did “quit” acting, and performed as a rapper on a few occasions. For about two years, people were convinced Phoenix had gone completely off the rails. Drugs, prostitutes, insanity – everything was on the table as far as the public was concerned.
3. Daniel Day-Lewis – All of his Movies
Daniel Day-Lewis famous “method” when it comes to acting. He’s notorious for the extreme measures and in-depth research he makes in preparation. The actor is highly selective when it comes to the roles he takes, starring in only seven movies since 1996. He’s also very secretive about his private life, rarely giving an interview or making a public appearance. And when he’s making a movie, he rarely – if ever – breaks character.
2. Marlon Brando – The Men
Like Day-Lewis, Marlon Brando gained fame (and notoriety) for his intense method approach to acting. Prior to starring in The Men, a movie about a group WWII vets who had to cope with the mental and physical injuries of war, Brando spent a whole month is a VA hospital. Very few members of staff or patients knew who he was, and he blended in among the amputees.
1. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger gave a career-defining, Oscar-winning performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. In preparation for the role, Ledger got deep into method acting. He locked himself in a hotel room for a month. He limited his contact with the outside world, opting instead to feverishly research and refine his take on arguably the most iconic comic book villain in history. Ledger said in an interview, “I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath – someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts.”