A Sneaky Thrill in Method Acting

Method acting can be a helpful tool for actors to effectively portray their characters effective and be as real as they can be. In recreating the lives of people like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, Zac Efron and Ross Lynch had to find a way to compartmentalize the role they play and their real lives to delineate that line between reality and fantasy– or a nightmare for their victims. Zac Efron mentioned in an interview that he really had to make a conscious decision to completely separate himself from his role as a serial killer when he went home after the shooting. He had just spent so much time trying to impersonate Bundy from physical training to look like Bundy and even spending two weeks in an abandoned prison just to fulfill his role. In trying to portray that role, a part of the process is also forgetting parts of your true identity, and how far you’re willing to let that new role consume you. Actors also need to be careful who they take home with them– is it their role or is it themselves?

Taking acting extreme are the actors that played the role of Joker, in the movie Batman and Suicide Squad– Heath Ledger and Jared Leto. Heath Ledger was so dedicated to his role that he locked himself in his own apartment and isolated himself from the world while he practiced Joker’s antics and laugh for the movie. It was even noted that he was so deeply in character that he would only acknowledge those that addressed him as “Joker” and nothing else. Being so deeply invested and so attached to their role can make it so easy to lose oneself entirely for a role. Jared Leto even went as far as hiring henchmen who carried out his dirty work. He ordered his henchmen to deliver put a bloody horse head in the studio executive sheets. Viola Davis, one of his costars, mentioned that his henchmen interrupted their rehearsal by dropping a dead pig on the table. He has also sent live bullets to co-stars Viola Davis and Will Smith. It seemed to make sense that Joker would send bullets to an assassin, Deadshot, the role that Smith played because the character was great with handguns and rifles. However, they weren’t in character anymore. Smith was Will Smith, in his own home, and he’s left his character at the movie’s set, but Leto did not. He and Viola Davis were alarmed when they received the bullets– and rightfully so. It isn’t every day that someone gets bullets in their mail, and if they do, it could so easily be found that there is a threat to their life.

To Jared Leto, it was also fun and games to send bizarre gifts to his co-actors even if it made them uncomfortable. He’s in a different realm of reality which he may see as comedic, but a reality that others might categorize in the thriller, horror, or even crime genre. He transformed a regular day at the movie’s set into his playground of sneaky thrills. To him, he was just playing a role, and he was playing the role effectively. What if that role becomes an excuse for unacceptable behavior? He’s definitely frightened his co-stars with his actions, but because he’s Jared Leto and was just acting. They cut him some slack, ignored the possibility of a threat to their lives, and let it go. If it were any other regular person, would sending bullets and a dead animal be taken as lightly as it was? Does great and effectively acting excuse one’s questionable behaviors, which would otherwise be, disturbing signs of criminal behavior? Every one does some sort of sneaky thrill, but only some are labeled as criminals.

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