15 Craziest Things Actors Did For Getting Into Character

POSTED BY , UPDATED ON June 23rd, 2016

Craziest Things Actors Did For Getting Into Character

Many actors do their jobs for the sake of a paycheck while some others take their professions with absolute seriousness. Crossing lines for getting into character acting and putting their health on the line, prepare to shock yourself by taking a look at the 15 craziest things actors did for getting into character:


15. Johnny Depp (Raoul Duke)

Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke

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With all honesty, Johnny Depp was obsessed with his character of Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Based on writer Hunter S. Thompson in his autobiographical novel of the same name, Duke is an anti-hero and one mean dude.

Thompson firmly believed that no actor besides Depp could play the role. To get into character, Depp moved into the basement of Thompson’s Owl Farm home for four months. During the time, the actor researched and observed Thompson’s mannerisms and went through his original manuscripts, notebooks and mementos.

Depp went as far as trading his car with Thompson’s Cheverolet Caprice convertible to drive it around California. Many of the clothing in the movie are Thompson’s actual clothes worn by Depp. To top it all off, Thompson himself shaved Depp’s head to match his own natural baldness.


14. James Franco (James Dean)

James Franco as James Dean

No actor could have been more perfect to play late actor James Dean in his biopic than James Franco. With an uncanny resemblance, it was one of the best casting choices in Hollywood at the time.

However, the two had completely different lifestyles and Franco understood that the facial resemblance was not going to be enough for a convincing performance. To get into character, Franco learned how to ride the motorcycle, play guitar and even started smoked two packs of cigarettes a day despite being a non-smoker. However, he has since quit smoking.

The actor did not stop there as Franco read several biographies of Dean, watched all his movies and even isolated himself for quite a time so he could immerse himself in the loneliness his character faced throughout his life.


13. Adrien Brody (Władysław Szpilman)

Adrien Brody as Władysław Szpilman

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To get into character of the real-life piano player Władysław Szpilman who survived the Holocaust in The Pianist, Adrian Brody sacrificed his comfortable living and left everything behind by moving to Europe in order to extensively understand the isolated experience of the character.

Furthermore, the actor practiced piano four times a day to play the specific passages in the movie instead of relying on sound editing. The actor’s efforts pulled off as Brody became the youngest winner of Academy Award for Best Actor and even defeated past winners Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Caine and Nicolas Cage while doing so.


12. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall (Corleone Crime Family)

Marlon Brando Al Pacino James Caan Robert Duvall as Corleone Crime Family

A masterpiece of film-making and perhaps the greatest movie of all time, The Godfather is not known as the most accurate portrayal of gangsters for nothing. The leading cast of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall hung out with real-life mobsters in order to prepare for their roles.

Brando had close connections with a Bufalino gangster while Caan became familiar with Carmine “The Snake” Persico and recalled “how they’re always touching themselves. Thumbs in the belt. Touching the jaw. Adjusting the shirt. Gripping the crotch.”


11. Meryl Streep (Joanna Kramer)

Meryl Streep as Joanna Kramer

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To make her look upset for a scene in Kramer vs Kramer, co-star and on-screen husband Dustin Hoffman slapped Meryl Streep. The actress recalled the incident as she stated,

“He slapped me as hard as he could. You could see the mark.”

The entire backstage scenario proved to be a blessing in disguise and the actress probably thanked Hoffman later on as Streep won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role.


10. Jared Leto (The Joker)

Jared Leto Joker

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After the legendary performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker, Jared Leto certainly has big shoes to fill and to get in character, and he definitely tried his best. The actor never broke character throughout the shoot of Suicide Squad. For preparation, the actor spent time listening to 1920s gospel music alone and read shamanism literature.

Leto shocked his co-stars by sending them gifts as the character of Joker would do by giving bullets to Will Smith – who portrayed marksman Deadshot – and a love letter with an alive rat to Margot Robbie  – who portrayed Harley Quinn, the girlfriend of Joker. Not only that, the actor while being in character made a creepy video for the entire cast that included a dead hog.


9. Rooney Mara (Lisbeth Salander)

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander

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Chosen as the last choice of director David Fincher after several actresses backed out due to the long time commitment with a low pay, Rooney Mara sacrificed her beauty for her role of Lisabeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The actress cut her blonde hair, dyed it black, bleached her eyebrows and pierced her private parts to give the audience an authentic view of a severe emotional and sexual abuse survivor.


8. Charlie Sheen (Garth Volbeck)

Charlie Sheen as Garth Volbeck

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Called “Boy in Police Station” according to the ending credits of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Charlie Sheen’s character actually had the name Garth Volbeck and even a backstory before all of it being scrapped off.

For the minor appearance, Sheen could have easily used makeup to portray a sloppy mess but chose to stay awake for 48 hours in order to look totally “wasted”. Yes, that was before the actor welcomed drugs into his life.