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Hollywood actors who went the extra mile during role preparation

Sometimes, actors must go to extreme lengths to give their finest performance. We find out how

Method acting is in vogue. Or should we say, has always been in vogue. Actors trying to get into the skin of their characters, quite literally, are never in short supply — at least not in Hollywood.

Jennifer Lawrence wears an uncomfortable body suit for her role as Mystique in the forthcoming film, X-Men: Days of Future Past
Jennifer Lawrence wears an uncomfortable body suit for her role as Mystique in X-Men: Days of Future Past 

Over the years, there have been many instances where the actors have taken the tougher route to render convincing performances. They have borne irritating prosthetics or pushed their bodies to great lengths to deliver what the critics consider brilliant.

Oscar-winning Jennifer Lawrence, who spent seven hours in make-up for her character in X-Men: First Class, is relieved that she had to wear a specially designed suit in the latest installation, X-Men: Days of Future Past.

She found the bodysuit "uncomfortable to work with" but is upbeat about the outcome. Here are some actors who exhibited an amazing extent of professionalism and (almost) maddening commitment to the characters they portrayed on the big screen.

Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Jennifer Lawrence wears an uncomfortable body suit for her role as Mystique in the forthcoming film, X-Men: Days of Future Past

Director: John Schlesinger
Lowdown: Dustin Hoffman kept pebbles in his shoe to ensure his limp would be consistent from shot to shot. He put in so much effort portraying one of Ratso's coughing fits that once he actually ended up vomiting.

The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather (1972)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Lowdown: Marlon Brando stuffed tissue paper into his mouth and altered his speech. The transformation of the 47-year-old actor into the ageing Mafia chief was convincing and excellent.

The Hours (2002)
The Hours (2002)

Director: Stephen Daldry
Lowdown: Nicole Kidman wore a fake nose to essay Virginia Woolf in the film and won an Oscar for what is a very convincing portrayal of the author. Kidman initially found the prosthetics annoying but started liking it over the time as it helped her avoid the paparazzi.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Director: Julian Schnabel
Lowdown: To portray a man who's completely paralysed — except for his left eye — Mathieu Amalric used prosthesis inside his mouth to ensure his face looked droopy. He ended up delivering his career's finest performance.

The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Lowdown: Heath Ledger designed the Joker make-up himself, reasoning that since the Joker himself would design and apply it, Ledger should do so as well. Once his "unflattering" design was approved, the make-up team repeated it daily.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Lowdown: Other than bulking up for the role and wearing an uncomfortable mask, Tom Hardy had to fit three-inch lifts under his shoes to appear as tall as Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman. The 5'10" actor had to learn to balance all three factors.

Lincoln (2012)
Lincoln (2012)

Director: Steven Spielberg
Lowdown: Actor Daniel Day-Lewis grew a beard and partially shaved his head for the role. His shoes were fitted with tall platforms to boost his height enough to match Abraham Lincoln's. Lewis, however, walked around with them outside the shoot, too, and gradually found his balance.

Django Unchained (2012)
Django Unchained (2012)

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Lowdown: When Leonardo DiCaprio's eccentric character smashes the palm of his hand on the dinner table, the actor broke a glass under his hand and actually began to bleed. DiCaprio ignored it, stayed in character, and continued with the scene.

Her (2013)
Her (2013)

Director: Spike Jonze
Lowdown: The earpiece Joaquin Phoenix wears in this thoughtful movie is the medium between him and his imaginary girlfriend. Turns out Phoenix didn't remove the earpiece even during his free time to "stay in the character".

 

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