When character acting becomes a dangerous obsession

Getting into the heart of a character is integral for an Actor / Actress to portray certain emotions, personalities and imitations of their on screen counterparts to really get the best out of their performance.

Famous portrayals of former presidents, gangster’s, and deceased celebrities have been shown time and time again on the silver screen, but how far do Actor’s and Actress’s go to obtain this like for like representation?

Do you think the sometimes self obsessive nature in which an Actor/Actress dedicates their mind, body and soul to capturing this essence in turn effects their sub conscious to actually believe they are in fact the real deal and not an imitation of their on screen counterparts?

We take a look at a few examples of some overly dedicated talent and their resilience to embody the characters they were portraying, and we pose the question.

Is this just acting or a dangerous obsession?

lincoln_2394389bDaniel Day Lewis signed his texts as Abraham Lincoln

Day-Lewis is famous for his in-depth research before any and all of his roles.

In his role as the 16th president in “Lincoln” the British actor kept his accent up even when the camera’s were not rolling and even began to sign his text messages ‘Yours Sincerely, A’.

A split personality for Daniel Day Lewis during this shoot, becoming so worked up in his character that he seemingly believed he was in fact Abraham Lincoln.

A method acting technique or a mental switch?


Woody Harrelson mistook a photographer for a zombie

Back in 2009 Woody Harrelson attacked a TMZ photographer claiming he thought he was a zombie. Woody Harrelson had just wrapped the movie Zombieland and stated he was still very much in character, mistaking this photographer for a zombie and lashing out.

We think this one may be a poor excuse, but what if Woody was telling the truth? What if he really thought this photographer was indeed a flesh eating zombie.

How would that affect his mentality? What if he had been given a more sinister role?


Heath Ledger transformed into the Joker

A more sinister example of this dedicated method mentality would be the story of Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

The actor locked himself away from the world for up to a month before filming, surviving on two hours sleep a night throughout the shoot because he was constantly obsessing about the role.

Crew members were worried about the actor claiming that he refused to speak to anyone on set out of character and they became generally concerned with his well being.

He was warned time and time again that he had gone too far and this obsession about the role is believed to be one of many potential causes and contributing factors to the depression that led to his premature death in 2008.

With Heath’s story being a rather questionable debate, the question remains. Could the dedication of someone’s craft be their downfall?

This level of intricate precision to nail down the perfect role is unhealthy, the effects that this must have on the body and mind is a scary thought indeed. Not only does the individual suffer, but those around them who have to battle with this new persona, a reincarnation of that character embodied in another.

Is there something inside your mind that becomes so engulfed in a character’s persona to the point where you, yourself become unrecognisable?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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