Lost In Character
A method actor falls so completely into their role they forget who they are.


(permanent link) added: 2011-08-10 19:57:08 sponsor: Earnest (last reply: 2011-08-18 10:59:10)

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"I don't drop character 'til I've done the DVD commentary."
-- Kirk Lazarus, Tropic Thunder

This is when a character who is an actor (not an actor in Real Life who plays a character) goes so deep into their role that they end up temporarily forgetting their original self. They become so immersed in the role out of extreme professionalism in their method acting that they stop being themselves. While in this state the character may act against their own or their allies' interests, though a good slap may fix them, or forcing an issue their normal self would take issue with.

If a psychological disorder is involved it may result in temporary Loss of Identity or even forming one or more Split Personalities.

Compare with Becoming the Mask, where con men or The Mole who grow to like their assumed identity more than their original one.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • Batman
    • Back when The Joker had his own comic series in the 1970s, one of the opponents he faced was an actor who had started to believe he actually was Sherlock Holmes.
    • The post-Zero Hour version of the second Two-Face, Paul Sloane, was reimagined as an actor so involved in method acting that he ended up turning himself into one of Batman's deformed, psychotic rogues while researching a part.
  • In recent interpretations, Spider-Man enemy the Chameleon sometimes has trouble discarding his assumed identities without some mental issues.
  • In a 1970s story, a combination of psychological conditioning and PTSD left Marvel Comics Super Spy the Black Widow mentally "stuck" in her cover identity as mousy schoolteacher Nancy Rushman.

Film
  • This concept is a metaphorical interpretation of Black Swan. Nina, sweet and a perfect representation of the White Swan, tries so hard to become the Black Swan that she loses herself.
  • The Film Noir movie A Double Life is all about this, where an actor playing Othello on broadway finds his life being taken over by the role and eventually follows in the part's footsteps when he murders his mistress.
  • Deconstructed and parodied in in Tropic Thunder by Robert Downey, Jr.'s character.

Literature
  • Kurt Vonnegut's "Who Am I This Time?", later adapted to an excellent made-for-TV movie starring Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon, and directed by Jonathan Demme.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Drusilla uses her psychic talents to appear to Giles as his former lover Jenny Calendar in order to seduce some information from him. She gets so carried away in the role that she continues making out with him for some time after learning what she was after.
  • This was parodied in an episode of Community, when Abed told the story of creating and then becoming a character for his walk-on role in Cougar Town.
  • This is arguably the super power of Echo, the protagonist of Dollhouse. Despite repeated memory wipes, she always retains the "imprints" the other personalities she's assumed.
  • Possibly Sophie Devereaux in Leverage. She mentions before her sabbatical that she's created so many fake personas she's not really sure what's really her anymore and leaves to bury each of them. This extends so far that we're not sure what her real name is.
  • This was the plot point in an episode of Monk.
  • Sort of happened in real life with Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes; he became so obsessed with the character that he only referred to him as "You-Know-Who", and later became ill and died.

Newspaper Comics
  • This was also parodied in a 2009 Garfield strip, with the dialogue as follows;
    General on TV: Holy bovines, Corporal! There's a giant monster invading the city!
    Soldier on TV: That's not a monster, sir.
    General: What are you talking about? Call out the artillery!
    Soldier: It's just a bad actor in a rubber suit.
    General: Oh, it is not! It's a monster!
    Soldier: Come on... I can see the zipper.
    General: Egad! A zipper monster! That's the worst kind!
    Soldier: And that's not a real city.
    General: Insolence! I'll have you court-martialed!!
    Soldier: These are just tiny little model buildings.
    Garfield: General Cordwood seems to have buried himself in the part.
    Soldier: See?
    General: PUT MY HOUSE DOWN!!

Theater
  • Hamlet is sometimes interpreted this way, with Hamlet's feigned insanity leading to him actually losing his grip on reality.

Video Games

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