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Enforced Method Acting

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"Punch me as hard as you can in the chest." Next thing I know, I was in intensive care at St. John’s Hospital for four days. It’s stupid!
Sylvester Stallone says the wrong thing to Dolph Lundgren, Rocky IV

Method Acting: (noun): An acting technique in which actors try to replicate the real-life emotional conditions under which the character operates, in an effort to create a life-like, realistic performance.


Enforced Method Acting: (noun): An acting technique in which actors give a life-like, realistic performance by actually experiencing the emotional conditions under which the character operates.

Enforced Method Acting is a cinematic concept in which the actors and actresses of a work give reactions that are unplanned and unscripted or are otherwise made to genuinely feel the emotions that they are expressing on camera. The primary difference with Method Acting is that is internal to the actor, whereas this trope is about providing reactions as compelled by someone else. This reaction is not rehearsed ahead of time, and the production uses Throw It In! intentionally. This can take place in several ways:

  • The director modifies conditions on set to accommodate the approximate mood and emotion that would be associated with the scene. The applications of this range from not telling the actor their love interest would leave them in the last scene, giving them the wrong cue for when the chainsaw-wielding maniac bursts through the door or ensuring conditions would be uncomfortable for them to act (ice cold water in the dunk tank, heavy wind machines to blow sand in their face, letting them sweat in a heavy costume).
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  • An actor behaves in a way that causes the actors he's working with to react in an unplanned way: adding racist dialogue from their jerkass character, being intentionally obnoxious off camera, go entirely off script for a rant, randomly stripping during the scene — maybe just to make sure they'll burst out laughing.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot, Writing by the Seat of Your Pants or an unforeseen accident results in performances that is appropriate to the plot.

Enforced Method Acting does not mean long term method acting the director forces the actors to do.

Compare with Throw It In! (when this trope happens by accident) and Acting in the Dark (when plot details are deliberately withheld from actors to provide a genuine reaction). Since the associated shock and strong, often negative feelings make the shoot a traumatic experience, this often requires a Jerkass director, or at least one who doesn't mind their actors hating them. After all, using this technique means the director doesn't trust the actors' skills to carry a scene. In some cases however, such as with child actors, this can be more justified. Fatal Method Acting is a lethal case of this. Contrast Lost in Character. See also Harpo Does Something Funny.


Examples from Real Life:

    open/close all folders 

  • In the third Rebuild of Evangelion movie, Shinji has no lines after Kaworu's Heroic Sacrifice. This was not the case in the original script, but after the crew finished recording the scene, Megumi Ogata became so upset that she couldn't finish her lines. The writers hastily rewrote the ending so that Shinji spends the remainder of the movie in a Heroic BSoD state.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) English dub:
    • Vic Mignogna was not informed of what lay on the other side of the Gate prior to dubbing the scene in which Edward Elric passes through it. The surprise in Edward's voice upon seeing zeppelins, therefore, is quite real. Vic wasn't given any more of the script than his own lines in chunks (which were recorded in chronological order) for the last three episodes. Now that's what you call enforced.
    • In a (somewhat) more lighthearted example, according to the commentary on episode 19, they really threw (or pretended to throw) a teacup at Aaron Dismuke's face in order to get his reaction (as Edward throws a teacup and it hits Al in the show). Not sure how much they were kidding, but when asked, Aaron said it bothered him, but it was also "really inspirational, though."
  • During the dubbing of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kira's voice actor Matt Hill actually asked the vocal director to kick him in the crotch to make his crying sound authentic. Fans more than appreciate his dedication, especially since it worked (and was head and shoulders above Soichiro Hoshi's "dying horse" crying). Similarly, in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Scott McNeil's Big "NO!" was achieved when he thought back to the most painful moment in his life, when his wife accidentally knocked over his motorcycle with the family minivan.
  • Code Geass: Yukana was never told her character (C.C.) was gonna die in the first episode. In fact, nobody knew how long their character was going to last throughout the first season, so much of their death cries were real.
  • Writer Gen Urobuchi and director Akiyuki Shinbo went right for the jugular with their cast in Magical Girl Deconstruction Puella Magi Madoka Magica, not telling them beforehand how harsh things would get. It was especially hard for Emiri Katou, who ended up playing the alleged main villain.
    • The English dub did something similar, such as not telling Carrie Keranen about Mami Tomoe's death scene until she was recording it. Carrie recounted how this went, especially her confusion since she knew she was coming in again to record more lines.
      Did I just... Did I just DIE!?
  • Caitlin Glass once told a story about her experience dubbing the Girl of the Week for a Lupin III movie. She couldn't act properly angry in one scene, so right before she was supposed to speak, the director called her fat to anger her.
  • The original Japanese voice recording of Setsuko in Grave of the Fireflies was heavily enforced since the voice actor, Ayano Shiraishi, was only five years old during the recording.note  This meant that they had to record her lines before animating the scenes, an extremely uncommon practice in Japanese animation; to help themselves out the animators tried to avoid angles where her mouth could be seen to avoid Mouth Flaps.
  • While dubbing the scene in Summer Wars where Natsuki is crying over the death of her Grandmother, Brina Palencia recalled memories of her own late Grandmother whom she was extremely close to. Pretty much any time Natsuki is crying in the film Brina was crying in the recording booth.
  • On The Last: Naruto the Movie, Nana Mizuki (Hinata) between recording sessions would deliberately sit as far as possible from Junko Takeuchi (Naruto), mimicking how Hinata looked upon Naruto from the distance, and before the recording sessions of the final scenes she started sitting right next to Takeuchi, feeling both nervous and happy for it, in order to help convey Hinata's emotions when she finally gets to be with Naruto.
  • On Spirited Away, Chihiro's Mother's Japanese VA first attempted to record her lines for the scene in which she is stuffing her face with the enchanted food while holding her finger inside her mouth. But later she decided to actually munch on a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken during the recording session.

    Film — Animated 
  • During Miguel's tearjerking version of "Remember Me" in Coco, Anthony Gonzalez was actually in tears.
  • To give Dash in The Incredibles a more realistic sounding out-of-breath voice, Director Brad Bird would make Spencer Fox run laps around the studio.
  • Jordan Nagai, the kid who voiced Russell in Up, was "tricked" by the voice director many times in order to get him away from sounding too much like he was acting and give a more genuine response. For example, he was told to run around before giving lines or forced to memorize his lines on the spot. Likewise, in the scene where Russell, giggling, is being tossed playfully in the air by Kevin, the voice director tickled him. This is actually a pretty common practice (the same technique was used for the French actress who played the young Marjane in Persepolis).
  • The Lion King (1994):
    • When Jonathan Taylor Thomas voiced Young Simba, they tapped his back for the scene where Simba is yelling while sliding down the back of an elephant's skeleton.
    • The staff brought in Thomas' mother during a session where he recorded for the wildebeest stampede. The director told Thomas to visualize her falling to perfect Simba's reaction to Mufasa losing his grip. This worked too well; Thomas screamed "MOM!" on the first take instead of the scripted "DAD!".
  • For Marge's message to Homer in The Simpsons Movie, Julie Kavner was put through around 100 takes to get the exhausted-sounding delivery they wanted.
  • During the recording session for The Iron Giant, Brad Bird shook Eli Marienthal (the voice of Hogarth) with his permission, to get his voice shaky during the scene where he rides in the makeshift car in the scrap yard.
    • He also had him actually eating Twinkies during the scene where he eats them while watching the movie when he's home alone.
  • In Disney's animated Alice in Wonderland, Kathryn Beaumont once admitted to an interview that her laughter during the scene where Alice is tickled by the flamingo wasn't believable. So during one later take, the director tickled Kathryn at the moment and the resulting fit of giggles during that scene is entirely genuine.
  • Zootopia: When Judy tearfully apologizes to Nick, Ginnifer Goodwin actually broke down when recording her dialogue.
  • In The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Dave Franco got emotional while recording some dialogue between Lloyd and Garmadon.
  • Throughout the Kung Fu Panda series, Jack Black was known for doing all kinds of movements and basically fooling around in the recording studio. This gave Po's famous goofball, dorky nature a far more realistic take.

  • Martin Birch, who produced Iron Maiden's most famous records, asked (then new) singer Bruce Dickinson to do take after take after take for "The Number of the Beast". Bruce was obviously frustrated and annoyed, and that's when Mr Birch told him something like 'now it's time to record the scream', which he of course delivered in a very unhuman way, which Bruce was never able to replicate.
  • When Miles Davis was recording his groundbreaking fusion album Bitches Brew, the session musicians did not know what they were supposed to play beyond tempo and chord changes. You can hear Miles giving instructions during quiet moments.
  • Bruce Springsteen wanted his folk album ''We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" to have an informal sound, so he didn't rehearse with the Sessions band before they started recording. Springsteen can be heard several times on the album giving spontaneous instructions about what instrument he wants to hear.
    • According to Neil Dorfsman, his producer during the Born In The U.S.A. sessions, this article, Bruce would give vague, disjointed, often confusing instructions to each member of the E Street Band on how his songs were to be played in order to allow for more spontaneity and freshness in the performances.
    "In those days, Bruce had a particular way of teaching the band a new song. He wouldn't play it for them from the beginning to the end; he would teach them the different parts of the song, and not necessarily in the order that they appeared. So, he might start off by saying, 'Well, there's this part,' and play them a little bit of the chorus, showing them the chord changes. After that, he might say, 'Then there's this part,' and play them the bridge, and follow this with 'And then there's this part,' and play them a verse. While the guys would be making notes, he might say, 'Then there's this part, which is like an intro‑instrumental thing,' and if there was any other part, such as a solo, he'd teach them that, too. Then he'd ask, 'Everybody got that?' and if they did, he'd say, 'OK, we're going to start with the second part I showed you and then go to part number four. We'll play that twice, and then we'll go to part number one before going back to part number four, then on to part number three, back to part number four, back to part number one, then part number three again, then part number four, and then number one, number one and we'll ride out on one...' They'd be like, 'Huh?' and he'd go, 'All right, you want to run through it?' while the guys were scrambling to understand exactly how the song should be laid out.”
  • Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band's Trout Mask Replica was intended to sound uncomfortable and on the brink of falling apart. That's because the band really was uncomfortable and on the brink of falling apart; they had rehearsed the songs on the album for nine months, and were recording most of them in one single, manic five-hour marathon session with almost no retakes or overdubs. Antennae Jimmy Semens' performance of Pena sounds hysterical, and he probably was at the time. In a similar manner The Blimp, which is recited in a similar voice, over the phone to Frank Zappa.
  • On their album Pooping Like Dogs, The Pennock Bridge Collective had a handful of experimental tracks where they deliberately made sure no one in the band knew how a song was going to turn out: Mainly, they'd have members pull instruments and track numbers out of a hat, then have each member write and record a part based only on whatever had been recorded before they got their turn. The most extreme case of this was "The C.C.H. Pounder Blues", where everyone was instructed to improvise wildly for exactly 30 seconds without being able to hear what anyone else was playing.
  • As mentioned under Film, the call to the operator in Pink Floyd's The Wall is genuine. The character Pink phones his wife, knowing she's with another man, and the other line keeps disconnecting. The operator's confused reaction ("There's a man answering...") is real. They had to do the call several times before they found one who realized what the situation was. During some tour performances (notably the 1990 Berlin performance), Roger Waters called a real operator and had them dial a stage hand who pretended to be Ms. Floyd's new lover.
  • In British hardcore/electronic/everything band Enter Shikari's song "Gandhi, Mate, Gandhi", frontman Rou descends into borderline Angrish about halfway through, before being interrupted by voices urging him to "calm down mate, calm the fuck down" and "Gandhi, mate, just remember Gandhi". These lines were not prepared or written - fellow band members Liam/Rory and Chris were loitering outside the recording booth, drunk, and were heckling Rou as he recorded.
    • For the "Ello Tyrannosaurus" lyric just before the breakdown in 'Hello Tyrannosaurus, Meet Tyrannicide', the producer had Rou run to the back of the room and shout the lyric in order to get the correct sense of distance and shouting in a large space.
  • Red House Painters' entire album Rollercoaster is this in spades. It may very well be the largest case of Enforced Method Acting in music history:
    • Some of the record engineers were ordered by 4AD manager, Ivo Watts to make recording as stressful as possible to put Kozelek under a lot of pressure in order to get a more genuine performance out of him. So that strained, stressed sound present on it that you don't hear anywhere else? Not faked even in the slightest!
    • "Things Mean A Lot" had an unexpected piano riff added in that caught Kozelek by surprise. The song, being about Kozelek finally getting over an old muse of his, always seems to bring a tear to Kozelek's eyes because of this.
    • "Katy Song" was originally supposed to be shorter for the album version, but when the band parts were recorded first, they were told to drag out the second section extra long. Kozelek was not told of this, so when his guitar and vocal parts were recorded he got confused and frustrated when the song was going to end. So that effect of how the guitars and vocals sound progressively more and more exhausted is actually Kozelek trying to keep the song going and getting frustrated.
    • "Strawberry Hill" has the chorus sung by a group of strangers picked up from the street outside of a Los Angeles recording studio. When Mark was doing his final take for the vocal line, the crowd started singing in the background with Mark. He was not expecting this and the frail sound of his voice is actually him trying to hold back tears. The song had a lot of personal meaning to him, since it was about his troubled suicidal and depressed past.
    • "Brown Eyes" was supposed to be a closing track featuring just Mark Kozelek on guitar. As things progressed, however, he was caught by surprise when the rest of the band came in and started playing with him, re-enforcing the theme of "Strawberry Hill" even more.
  • The Lou Reed song "The Kids" ends with children screaming and crying. Producer Bob Ezrin allegedly told his children that their mother left and is never coming back, and he recorded their reaction.
  • While recording the song "Living for the City", Stevie Wonder's recording partners deliberately interfered with and criticized his performance, in order to get a raw sound out of him. In the end, Wonder's voice was so angry and hoarse that he got the result they were looking for.
  • Producer Ross Robinson is notorious for this approach. The most infamous example is Korn's song "Daddy", where singer Jonathan Davis starts crying at the end.note  Then there's "Pretty Lush" by Glassjaw, where you can hear him shattering the glass in the vocal booth. He also threw lit candles at The Cure and insulted them for not making music as good as they used to.note 
  • Toby Keith was asked to record a song for the Clint Eastwood movie The Mule and came up with "Don't Let the Old Man In". He recorded the demo on a day that he was very sick, giving the vocal a very weathered and tired sound, that Eastwood and Keith agreed fit the song's world-weary narrative.

    Music Video 
  • Mark Metcalf was able to use the exposure he got from his Animal House rant to the ROTC cadets being included in the fadeout of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" and his appearance in the video to get more pay for his subsequent appearance in the band's "I Wanna Rock" video. He showed up on set with a big ego, made even bigger by obvious cocaine consumption.

    This led to a confrontation with the director while shooting his scene at the beginning of the video, a confrontation the director settled by saying that if he really wanted to make his point, the two of them should step outside. Metcalf backed down, and the next take, with him still visibly agitated, is the one used in the video.
  • J-pop group Perfume's music video for "I Still Love U" is a one-shot film that features a minute of the three grimacing, supposedly in emotional pain, toward the end. However, in actuality, they are being given a painful foot massage during the shot, and their occasional laughter gives it away.
  • In the video for YeahYeahYeahs's "Maps", the tears Karen O cries are real. She had written the song for her boyfriend at the time, and he was supposed to come to the set. To make matters worse, it was the last day she'd be able to see him before leaving to go on tour. By the time he arrived (three hours late), she'd gotten quite upset.
  • In Prince's music video "Kiss", the face Wendy Melvoin makes when the singer literally gets in her face is genuine. She was simply expecting to play the guitar on a stool while Prince danced around her.
  • In the video for Poets of the Fall's "Carnival of Rust" Robot Clown Zoltar's misery and desperation to escape his fortuneteller's case reflects lead singer Marko Saaresto's suffering through sweltering heat and migraine-inducing oxygen deprivation while inside. Life further imitated art, as the crackled-paint makeup was severely drying out his skin for real during the overlong shoot, resulting in the loss of his eyebrows and necessitating heavy use of moisturizer to counteract the damage.
  • In the video for the Gorillaz song "DARE," most of the focus is on Noodle, while the male band members only make brief appearances. According to Noodle, this is because she didn't actually tell them she was making the video that day. As a result, 2D and Russel are extremely confused by the noise coming out of Noodle's room, and Murdoc slept through the whole thing until the camera crew went into his bedroom and woke him up.
  • Weezer's video "Undone - The Sweater Song" was a one-take shot 20 times. The one that was used was between the 15th and 20th, when the band was tired and simply not caring anymore (things such as a dog defecating on a drum pedal helped).
  • This may have been the case for the second part of the Cyndi Lauper videos for The Goonies R' Good Enough, as the video ends with Cyndi summoning André the Giant to chase away several wrestling heels who are playing the roles of bankers. As they flee, you can hear Roddy Piper shouting, "The video wasn’t supposed to end like this!"

  • In the Wolf 359 episode "Box 953", Minkowski sings "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General" while extremely intoxicated. But because Emma Sherr-Ziarko (Minkowski's voice actress) couldn't get it to sound drunk enough, one of the writers took her script and had her recite it from memory. She did not, in fact, have the song memorized.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Montreal Screwjob, something that Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels had previously discussed, was this to Bret Hart, who was intentionally never told he was going to lose in order to invoke this trope.
  • During the 2008 WWE Draft, none of the draftees were told that they'd be switching shows until just seconds before the announcement was made. Most notably seen with the announcer switch between Smackdown! and RAW... the looks of confusion and anger on Michael Cole and Jim Ross' faces as they switched chairs following the announcement of the change were completely real, and Jim Ross actually considered retiring the day after it happened.
    • Speaking of Jim Ross, he intentionally did not read the set notes for the shows he was announcing in order to make his on-air calls more realistic. His pleas for trying to get someone to stop the famous Mankind vs. Undertaker Hell in a Cell match is one of the many legitimate results of this practice (moreso because some of the damage Mick Foley took in the match was unintentional and damn near killed him).
  • Also draft-related - in order to properly keep up the air of shock (as well as downplay spoilers) in the 2005 draft's opening pick, John Cena apparently arrived at the arena very late and stayed in his car until it was time for him to come out at the start of the show. Only Cena and the people he had a segment and a match with that night - Chris Jericho, Christian, and Tyson Tomko - were informed of it in advance.
  • Rumor has it that the ring crew for June 7, 2010's RAW were only told that Wade Barrett would come down to the ring to interrupt John Cena vs. CM Punk... not that he'd then get the other "rookies" from the recently-concluded NXT show to jump and beat down John Cena, then attack Matt Striker, Jerry Lawler (prompting Michael Cole to promptly flee), the ring announcer Justin Roberts and ringside crew, and literally wreck the ringside and even tear at the ring itself.
  • Then there's WCW which, per its usual, managed to screw this up. They had backstage segments aplenty, but at one point decided that to increase spontaneity the announce team was not allowed to see and were not told about. This naturally led to plenty of segments that occurred for no apparent reason and led to nothing and the commentators looking like a bunch of morons. Most notably, a fan dressed as Sting jumped a barricade and ran into a match and the commentators, so used to not being told about changes to shows, assumed it was the real Sting.
  • WCW once had a whole PPV based on this, WCW Starrcade 91. This show introduced "The Lethal Lottery," a Dusty Rhodes creation. The idea was that the show would be made up of tag team matches where the participants (partners AND opponents) would be drawn at random, with the winners going on to compete in the two-ring "Battlebowl" battle royal at the end of the night. This resulted in some very odd combinations. In one match, Sting, the company's #1 Face, was paired up with legendary monster heel Abdullah the Butcher, and Sting had been feuding with Abby and Cactus Jack up to that point. The opening match had Jimmy Garvin of the Fabulous Freebirds and rookie Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. Michael Hayes of the Fabulous Freebirds and Tracy Smothers. WCW would revisit the "Lethal Lottery" concept on three more PPVs, Starrcade 92, Battlebowl in November 1993, and Slamboree 1996, though they'd rig the drawings for those later shows.
  • No one knew Eric Bischoff was coming the night he joined WWE. Similar to the John Cena example, he kept hidden in a limo. Supposedly Booker T, one of the few to spot Bischoff, summed it up by saying, "Tell me I didn't just see that".
  • Even Hall and Nash weren't told who the third man was at the Bash at the Beach. The two struggle to not look confused as Hogan goes Hollywood.
  • On a 2009 episode of Raw, Triple H is in the ring (in DX without Shawn Michaels) and decides to phone HBK. His music starts... and then his voice comes out from the other end of the phone... singing a voicemail message to the tune of his own theme music. Hunter apparently had no idea that this was Shawn's message and he promptly proceeded to completely lose it.
  • The Rock's return in 2011 was hidden even from the scripts of that episode which all told that Justin Bieber would be the host. (The Rock briefly alludes to this in his monologue.) Speaking of The Rock, his feud with John Cena was strained because the two men actually did not get along (at the time) but both knew the fans wanted to see them in a match.
  • Unfortunate example: Sting's obvious anger as he crushes Jeff Hardy at TNA Victory Road 2011? Real anger - Jeff was so strung out on drugs that Eric Bischoff had to come down and tell Sting to get it over with fast. Jeff can be seen trying to escape Sting's winning pinfall, and as Sting walks out, he answers a fan's "THAT WAS BULLSHIT!" with a loud (and on-camera) "I AGREE!"
  • In an interview on following the one-night return of Jake "The Snake" Roberts, he declared that as far as he knew, only Vince, Triple H, a woman in charge of the transportation and a talent executive were aware of his return and presence at the venue, which would make the reactions of the commentators and The Shield this trope.
  • Although pro-wrestling is mostly planned out and rehearsed, there is still quite a lot that can go on unexpectedly.
  • The Undertaker's loss at Wrestlemania XXX to Brock Lesnar was only known by the 'Taker, Brock, Triple H, Vince and Stephanie McMahon, decided mere hours before the match went on. Everyone's reaction, even Brock's manager Paul Heyman's reaction, is all out genuine shock.
  • During the famous hardcore match between Triple H and Cactus Jack at the 2000 Royal Rumble, Triple H finally managed to hit Cactus Jack with the Pedigree, only for Cactus to unexpectedly kick out, absolutely shocking Triple H. The shock was real, because that was actually the scripted end of the match- Mick Foley had "called an audible" by changing the script on his own initiative, since he'd had a better idea for the finish, which they promptly did instead. Said "better idea" involved Triple H giving him another Pedigree face-first onto a pile of thumbtacks!
  • "Strong Style" popularized by New Japan Pro-Wrestling and others, has this as a key aspect of wrestler training, i.e. don't sell for an opponent who isn't legitimately beating the crap out of you.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Paranoia, combat is intended to be portrayed as fast, confused, and entertainingly deadly, rather than tactically optimal - so the GM is encouraged to give the players only a few seconds to decide what their characters are doing each round.
    • The rulebook contains an example of play that runs something like this:
      GM: Suddenly some hairy guys jump up from behind the gray things and shake sticks at you. Fred, what do you do?
      Fred: Wait, what?
      GM: Right. John, how about you?
    • Extending this beyond combat, some games even suggest in the guidebook that in order to keep the players on their toes, the GM should make rolls for no reason at all, and occasionally pass private notes to players saying things like "just smile and nod".
      • Then that player knows what's actually going on. A note saying "Make a perception roll, but don't tell the others" makes everyone paranoid.

  • In the original production of The Phantom of the Opera, at one point the Phantom is underground, having kidnapped Christine. He loads her into the boat. On stage, the boat needs to be pushed out to the front, as though he was pushing it into the water. Not knowing that the boat was so heavy, it took a lot out of the Phantom and he was severely out of breath. The rendering of the next song, "slowly, gently, in anticipation" is so affected that the director decides to keep it like that.
  • In fact, during Shakespeare's time, it seemed perfectly common to be cruel to the actors like that, not telling them when they were going to be slapped, etc. Then there is one scene where a character tries to get a word in but can't manage to interrupt someone. Since the actors weren't given the full script, only their own lines and the key lines before them so they would know when it was their turn, the previous actor would say a phrase similar to the key line three times, each time causing a false alarm, making the actor after him think it's his turn to speak, only to be cut off by the first character's continued talking. This very convincingly created the illusion of the second character trying in vain to get a word in.
  • A bit of unintentional Enforced Method Acting appears on the original Broadway soundtrack of Gypsy. In the song "Some People," the actor who plays Rose's father has a small line — "You're not gettin' eighty-eighty cents out of me, Rose." Unfortunately, on the day of recording, the actor failed to show up to do the line, so Stephen Sondheim himself ended up recording it — and he was so pissed off at the actor for not being there that the anger came across as genuine, prompting a similarly angry response from Ethel Merman.

    Theme Parks 
  • Supposedly, when creating the soundtrack for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln for the 1964 World's Fair and then Disneyland, Walt Disney kept having voice actor Royal Dano redo the entire speech, complaining about small things that made it "not quite right," until Dano was absolutely exhausted, and could barely make it to the end, at which point Disney said it was perfect, that it was what a weary Lincoln would have sounded like. He may have had a point, as the speech still induces shivers half a century later.

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear:
    • With some irony clearly intended, localiser Jeremy Blaustein says that his ability to articulate Solid Snake's world may have something to do with the fact that he translated Metal Gear Solid in a freezing cold winter while eating prescribed diazepam.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3:
      • During the scene where Naked Snake meets Granin in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Hideo Kojima had Granin's motion actor drink real whiskey to the point where he was absolutely smashed and kept forgetting his lines.
      • Snake had two motion actors - one specialising in emotional acting, and one to do the combat scenes, particularly the martial arts. However, Kojima deliberately had the combat motion actor, Motosada Mori, play the love scenes with EVA, in the hope that his lack of experience playing love scenes would give an impression of Snake's shyness around her. In the scene in the mountaintop bolthole when EVA leans in to kiss Snake, that's Mori instinctively freezing up when she touches him. It was very in character for Snake, so it was kept and Kojima later said it was one of his favorite touches.
  • As shown in this article with Battlefield 1, EA DICE had the voice actors wear backpacks filled with weight, which they call the "Cinderblock Method".
  • For Joker's reveal trailer in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Erika Harlacher said that Ann's Big "WHAT?!" was indeed a genuine reaction from herself after seeing Joker's invitation.
  • For the recording sessions of Spec Ops: The Line, the actors playing Walker, Adams and Lugo recorded all their lines together in one room, in hopes that a realistic character dynamic would develop between them. They also recorded all their lines in chronological sequence in long, tiring sessions, such that by the end of the recording sessions they were tired, angry and eager to go home — just like the characters themselves.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the voice actors for Adam Jensen and Megan Reed, being a married couple IRL, had an argument on the day where they were to record a scene where their characters were arguing. They decided not to resolve their own argument until after the voice recording session, so as to add even more realism to the scene.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II during the scene revealing that Osborne was alive and that Crow's attempt to assassinate him was in vain, Rean reaches for him, grabs him, and yells with so much emotion that he never shows off for most of the game. This is because Sean Chiplock, who voices Rean, had issues with his real life father at the time when he recorded the line. Which then gave the moment a very convincing Luke, I Am Your Father moment.
  • According to production documentaries for BioShock Infinite, Courtnee Draper (Elizabeth's VA) asked Troy Baker (Booker's VA) to berate her in the recording booth until she cried, so that a particularly emotional piece of dialogue between Elizabeth and Booker would sound just right.
  • While recording Ghaleon's Final Speech in Lunar: Silver Star Story, Ghaleon's voice actor John Truitt was made to drink over a gallon of milk so his voice and coughing would sound realistically wet.
  • Spider-Man (PS4): William Salyers has noted that he really was upside down when doing the rooftop confrontation scene with Yuri Lowenthal in order to make the scene more powerful.
  • A strange, accidental example in Red Dead Redemption 2; Dutch's voice actor, Benjamin Byron Davis, was a heavy smoker during the making of the first game, giving him a very gravelly voice. In the years following, he quit smoking, with the effect that his voice became noticeably higher and more prone to cracking... a fact which allowed him to very convincingly portray a younger Dutch in II, which is set a few decades prior to the first game.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • Chris Hackney, the voice actor for Dimitri, didn't know about The Reveal near the end of the first part of the game until he recorded the lines for it.
    • Christian La Monte, the voice actor for Ignatz, stated that the scream in his character's B support with Raphael was genuine. According to him, Raphael's "Hey!" was played at full volume while he was waiting for directions.

    Web Original 
  • For that matter, there are instances of this in a Let's Play, especially a blind Let's Play where they're legitimately surprised at a plot point or are startled by a Jump Scare.
  • In the 150th episode of Anime Abandon, Bennett the Sage received a beatdown by a number of other internet personalities with wiffle bats, concluding with Woolie cracking a pool cue on him to knock him to the floor. The pool cue was breakable, but it broke in a completely different area, meaning Bennett really did have a pool cue broken on his back. He shows off the bruise in the outtakes with Marc joking that they were filming an assault.
  • In the first episode of the Ben McYellow Returns series, the title character's... butler(?) Jeeves pours him a disgusting mixture of dishwashing liquid, tap water, hand soap, and honey into a coffee cup, which Ben then drinks. The cup of water that lead actor Aidan Childers drank actually did have a small drop of toothpaste in it, the look of disgust on his face is completely genuine.
  • When The Cinema Snob and Allison Pregler teamed up to review The Asylum's Sherlock Holmes Mockbuster, Brad was supposed to punch her for suggesting they review another film together. He actually hit her, and her reaction is genuine. It was clear from the outtake video that it was an accident, though.
    • In Midnight Screenings, Jillian reviewed Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1, and had stuff thrown at her from off screen. She knew it would happen, just not the timing, to keep her reactions as genuine as possible.
  • Discussed in a Cracked articles "12 Classic Movie Moments Made Possible by Abuse and Murder" and "5 Amazing Performances From Actors Who Weren't Acting."
  • In the Happy Tree Friends episode "Shard at Work", Warren Graff (who voices Handy the beaver) choked himself with water while recording a scene where Handy gets a fish bowl stuck on his head.
  • When Lazy Purple's How It FEELS to Play... series for Team Fortress 2 covered the Demoman, Lazy actually got drunk enough to vomit to add some authenticity to his rambling about the stickybomb launcher and enemy sentry guns. Which results in his Author Avatar facepalming and fast-forwarding through the less cogent parts of the recording, and more than a few We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties cards.
  • That The Music Video Show episode that involved a drinking game? That was actually Jack Daniel's. And he REALLY did get drunk.
  • When The Nostalgia Critic is getting beaten in The Wicker Man (2006) review, according to Doug he really was getting groin attacked with minimal protection. You can tell by the way his legs twitch any time he gets a hit.
  • In the film Surviving Evidence, Kayla Bashe note  who played Taylor, was actually "terrified of zombies." Her freaking out every time a zombie appeared? Not entirely an act. Additionally, the dialogue in the scene where Taylor and Erica put on a play was improvised to highlight the play's Stylistic Suck.
  • Halfway through Chapter 3 of TFS at the Table, Lanipator hadn't told the other players that he was going to replace his character due to in-story reasons. Only the DM knew in advance.

    Western Animation 
  • Nathan Ruegger, the voice of Skippy Squirrel in Animaniacs, would often be tickled by his father while he was recording to make his laughter sound more genuine.
  • Big City Greens: Chris Houghton, the voice of Cricket, cried real tears during the scene in "Phoenix Rises" when Cricket thinks Phoenix is gone for good.
  • Tom Kenny, the voice actor for Spongebob Squarepants, was actually ill when he recorded Spongebob's dialogue for the episode "Suds."
  • The earliest Peanuts specials were done this way — since Charles Schulz and Bill Melendez insisted on real child voice actors, some of whom couldn't yet read, dialogue was fed to the kids line-by-line or sometimes word-by-word, and the lines we hear are often spliced together from the kids reciting the words or lines back. Arguably the best example is Sally's confused speech ("All I want is what I...have coming to me! All I want is my fair share!") in A Charlie Brown Christmas. This unique "sound" quickly became such an expected element of the specials that this method continued to be followed, even when mixing software and better techniques could have smoothed things over a bit.
  • Spoofed in the Behind the Scenes feature for Archer. Amber Nash, who plays Pam on the show, was showing some of the voice acting tricks they used and the script called for her to shout "Bear Claws!" while eating one of them. To do this, the Voice Director provided the real pastry and had Nash do several takes where she would stuff her mouth full and then shouting the line. After multiple takes, Nash is disgusted by the thought of eating another Bear Claw and the director, frustrated with this development in light of having no good take, asked the script writers if they could change the events so that the line is shouted before Pam eats the bear claw, which the writers say is okay. Amber is visibly not amused.
  • During the recording for one of the final season episodes of Star Wars Rebels, which normally operates with the Voices in One Room Dave Filoni made sure none of the cast knew about Kanan's death scene until moments before it was time for recording, to make their shocked and grieving reactions more genuine.
  • In Over the Garden Wall, protagonist Wirt is forced to make up a song about himself on the spot. Lyrics were written, but a melody was not, so that Elijah Wood would have to make it himself. Furthermore, creator Patrick McHale and Collin Dean (who played Greg) kept mocking him and chanting "Sing, lover, sing!," as the tavern customers do in the show, to try and make him as uncomfortable as possible.
  • Whenever a kissing scene is recorded in Young Justice , the voice actors for the characters in that scene would kiss each other. Interestingly, Zehra Fazal mentioned at 5:45 how she kissed her own hand when recording Halo and Harper's kiss since she voices both characters.
  • Pinky and the Brain: It was rumored that Rob Paulsen and Maurice La Marche really were in tears when recording the scene where the Brain reads Pinky's letter to Santa in "A Pinky and the Brain Christmas".

  • "Confessions of a Republican", in which a Republican voter expresses his anxiety about voting for Barry Goldwater, hired William Gibson to play the guy because he was a Republican voter expressing his own fears about voting for Goldwater.

In-work Examples:

  • A French McDonalds ad parodies this by showing how an actor is forced to display such genuine emotion: a crew member is dangling a hamburger in front of him, usually just out of reach.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Skip Beat!: Kyoko does this when she gets into her character for Dark Moon. Everyone's shock is real because they didn't know how Kyoko would present her character. It was so unexpected and shocking that Director Ogata falls to his knees.
  • The first chapter of Gundam Sousei, a Dramatization of the production of Mobile Suit Gundam, does this with the infamous 'Bright Slap' scene by having Yoshiyuki Tomino punch Toru Furuya in the face after several unimpressive line reads. Twice. It's unclear if anything of the sort actually happened, but we are talking about a man who got the nickname "Kill 'Em All" while making cartoons for a toy company.
    • Another chapter shows Shuichi Ikeda going for drinks with cast members after each day of recording finished, except Furuya, who he was distant towards, to reflect the uncomfortable relationship between Char and Amuro. Once the final episode wrapped up, Ikeda invited Furuya out for drinks, which began a friendship reflected in Char and Amuro's interactions in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. This worked largely because of the Japanese concept of "social drinking", which is an extremely important side of work interaction. Ikeda inviting everyone but Furuya would be considered as one of the most rude things he could do to a fellow co-worker.
  • In Bleach episode 298, Ichigo is filming a movie directed by Abarai Renji, with special effects provided by Kuchiki Byakuya. Said special effects include Byakuya attacking Ichigo with his Bankai. Ouch.
    Ichigo: Why am I the only one whose getting beat up?! The explosions are too powerful, the attacks are precise, and I get shoved down from crazy places without warning!
    Renji: You did some great acting in every one of those scenes.
    Ichigo: I wasn't acting!
  • Ten Little Gall Force is a Super-Deformed OVA that reimagines the cast of Gall Force as actors making a movie. At one stage, they're shooting the scene where Catty fries herself acting as the conductor for a broken power cable. Catty asks the director if he's sure the wire's not live, and the director shrugs, so she grabs the wire... and then the director activates it, electrocuting her for real. He seems thrilled with the "reality" of the scene.
  • In Sket Dance, Momoka and the Sket Dan decide to host a puppet show with a story based on Momoka's actual experiences. By the end of the show, Momoka ends up crying, somewhat appropriately, during the part when her character was crying as well.
  • In The Idolmaster, Haruka and Miki were in the running to take the lead role in a musical. Miki was a shoo-in for the lead role due to her energy, but this came at a time where the 765 idols were drifting apart due to schedule conflicts and couldn't meet up all the time. Haruka's desperation to keep them all together in little moments, as well as her inner suspicions of being The Friend Nobody Likes and blaming herself for an accident that befell onto the Producer during the time, are what gives her the edge to do the lead's speech about broken dreams and self-doubt.

    Film — Animated 
  • The fictional director in Bolt ran Bolt's life this way. The words "method acting" are even mentioned by the exec who came to evaluate the show.
    Director: And if the dog believes it... the audience will believe it.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Lady Killer: The director on the film set insists that Dan eat a bunch of garlic so that his co-star Lois's disgust at his bad breath will be real. He does, and it is.
  • In Superman Returns, Lex Luthor cuts the brakes on his assistant's car so that her screams for help will be authentic. When she confronts him later, he explains that if she hadn't really been terrified, Superman would have been able to tell.
  • Tropic Thunder uses this trope in the plot, which involves a director filming a movie about The Vietnam War dropping his five actors into the Golden Triangle of Asia while riddling the jungle with hidden cameras as advised by Shell-Shocked Veteran Four-Leaf Tayback.
  • In Epic Movie, while trying to escape a prison cell, Captain Swallows stabs Edward in the abdomen to ensure his pain is realistic enough to get the guards in.
  • Just the basic concept of Bowfinger is an extreme version of this, where the main lead, Kit Ramsey, doesn't even know he's in a movie, and all his scenes are filmed in secret because the titular film director couldn't afford to actually hire him.
  • In Show People, assistance slice onions in front of would-be dramatic actress Peggy Pepper when she can't cry on command.
  • Privilege features a pop star whose stage show involves being placed in handcuffs that make his wrists bleed, beaten by police officers, and locked in a cage. The public thinks it's all an act, but he really is being beaten onstage, leaving him with real scars and bruises.
  • Much of the plot of The Stunt Man is made of this trope. The movie is about an intense director who constantly uses enforced method acting on his actors, sometimes with dangerous consequences.

  • Sherlock Holmes: Holmes does this to Watson several times, each time with the explanation that he needed Watson to behave as though something was absolutely true when it wasn't.
    • In the "Dying Detective" Holmes appears to be dying of poison. Of course, it turns out that he's perfectly fine and was only acting so that Watson's reactions to it (and subsequent conversation with the suspect who had tried to poison him) would be genuine enough to convince said suspect.
    • A far crueler example is when Holmes fakes his own death for three years, leaving Watson alone even though his wife has died. Holmes states that it was essential the world believed him dead, and Watson's behavior wouldn't be convincing enough if it was an act.
  • The desperate haphazard plan Fisk comes up with in the first book of the Knight and Rogue Series, to drug the Mad Scientist Ceciel they're escaping from and pretend that he and she are going out to perform some sacrifice or another with Michael, nearly falls apart when a guard sees Ceciel's rather vacant face and bad actor Michael's fairly unconcerned expression. There's nothing to be done about the drugged look, so Fisk gets Michael to panic by beginning to talk about how they're sacrificing his 'fertility'.
  • In The Hunger Games, this happens repeatedly with Katniss. She can't act, and so is never warned about Peeta's interview strategies so her reactions will be genuine. By the third book, this has escalated to dropping her into a war zone in order to film propaganda because the studio shoots never work. At first they just stick to a hospital with real victims, but no one was expecting bombers to turn up. And when they do, they try to keep her out of the fighting, but she goes in anyway and they keep the camera rolling.
  • In Barbara Hambly's Search the Seven Hills, a troupe of girls playing nymphs is entertaining a Roman banquet when a troupe of actors as satyrs burst out on them. Marcus notes that either the girls were consummate actresses, or they had not expected to be actually molested by the satyrs.
  • In-universe example: In The Wizard of Sunset Strip, a special-effects adept conjures a real demon onto the set during the filming of a Human Sacrifice scene. The actress playing the "victim" freaks out for real, but the crew assume it's an illusion and keep on filming, only realizing she's genuinely terrified when she faints.
  • Reserved for the Cat: When Jonathan and Ninette are practicing a new illusion for Jonathan's act, he doesn't bother to tell Ninette that the flames she's about to see (while she's locked in a box) are magically-created fake flames. He then learns that you don't want to get kicked by a ballerina.
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever features the shepherds in the titular Christmas pageant, who tremble in very realistic terror when the angel appears... because they're afraid of the girl playing the angel, a notorious bully.
  • In the children's picture book Evie and Margie, Evie tries out for the role of Cinderella in a school play. The play includes a scene where Cinderella cries after not being allowed to attend the ball. Evie figures out how to make herself cry by remembering an incident where she cried after not getting a cupcake at a birthday party, and was offered a carrot stick instead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The "Conspiracy Theories" episode of Community: Jeff, Annie, the Dean, a police officer, and the theater professor all shooting each other with fake guns in order to prove a point. Each time, someone thinks that the gun is real and freaks out.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • Reese breaks a leg when he snuck out with the minibike Lois had under lock. They try to make it look like Craig ran over his leg with the car using a brick. When Reese's screams don't sound very believable, Dewey proceeds to punch him in the bump that is his broken bone.
    • In an earlier episode where the boys (and Francis) have the house to themselves, Malcolm gets injured and has to be taken to the hospital, Francis driving in reverse so the odometer wouldn't move forward and arouse the parents' suspicion. When they have difficulty obtaining the treatment, Francis forces Dewey to cry by squeezing his back as the two hug, garnering sympathy from one of the nurses.
  • The opening-night production of Macbeth in Slings & Arrows includes an In-Universe version; Slings & Arrows is a story about a theater company, and director Geoffrey Tennant is not above manipulating his performers to get results. In order to get the performance he wants out of his recalcitrant Macbeth, Geoffrey changes all the blocking at the last minute, inserts a small tree at a strategic location, and gives secret instructions to Macbeth's opponents in fight scenes.
  • In Breakout Kings, Ray forces this upon Lloyd when he enacts a plan that involves letting their captive crook swipe his keys and his (unloaded) gun so that she'll take them straight to her partner as hostages. Needless to say, Lloyd is less than thrilled.
  • Inverted in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "School Hard", where Angel brings Xander with him and pretends to have captured food in order to get close to Spike. Xander, not liking or trusting Angel, is somewhere between believing it and not. Apparently, though, it was Angel's performance that was suspect, as Spike pulls away at the last moment to cheap shot Angel. Afterwards, Xander asks what would have happened if Spike had bitten Xander.
    Angel: Then we would have known he bought it.
  • In an episode of Stargate Atlantis, the heroes need a telepathic enemy army to believe that they've been they create a failed rescue attempt to feed false information to a captive Jack O'Neill and Woolsey, then allow them to be interrogated. Jack's been around long enough to know something's up, but Woolsey believes he's going to die and predictably freaks out, fooling the enemy completely.
  • On My Name Is Earl, Liberty pays her next-door neighbor to be the Heel in her wrestling matches. Joy stuffs the neighbor into the trunk of her car, puts on the costume, and proceeds to try and sabotage Liberty's performance. (It ended up making her performance better, as well as helping both women air their grievances towards one another.)
  • In An Adventure in Space and Time, William Hartnell is thinking about his grief over the departing producer, Verity Lambert, while performing a scene in which his character leaves his granddaughter stranded on a post-apocalyptic Earth in the year 2150, and his acting is notably better than the usual Stylistic Suck it has been shown as. This is Rule of Drama - in real life, Verity Lambert stayed on the production for almost a year after the scene was made.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, Tom Paris plays the part of a malcontent to smoke out a traitor among the crew. On Tuvok's recommendation, Chakotay is not informed of the deception in order to make his reactions more believable.
  • On Friends, Joey suffers a hernia while working out. Unfortunately, he's been without an acting role in a while and has no health insurance, so he tries to get an emergency role. He gets one as a dying father on a medical show who tells his son to take care of his mother. The child actor playing his son fails to elicit the right amount of emotion for the scene, so Chandler pulls back the blanket over Joey and shows the kid Joey's hernia. This upsets the boy enough for a thoroughly realistic performance.
    Chandler: (storming off-camera) We got him crying, John! Roll the damn camera!
  • In Sense8, Lito is filming a shoot-'em-up scene while tuned in to Will, who is doing a firearms training drill, which really dials up the intensity for Lito.
  • In an episode of The Love Boat, a movie is being filmed aboard the ship. Johnny Lovett, a rock star, has never acted before and isn't quite conveying the right amount of anger needed for the scene. Between takes, Vicki pulls him aside and brutally insults him. When filming resumes, he's boiling with rage—mission accomplished.

    Video Games 
  • The Avatar in Fire Emblem Awakening hears about how Walhart will kill Basilio after he and Flavia attack the conquerer. Knowing that the Fire Emblem might be stolen by the Grimleal (namely Validar), s/he and Basilio devise a plan for Basilio to fake death to the Conqueror, and not actually tell Flavia, so her cries when catching up with Chrom are legit. Later on, the Avatar proves correct — the Fire Emblem is stolen, but the green gem was replaced with a fake and Basilio was not actually dead. Just as Validar (and Lucina) had thought, Grima tries to possess the Avatar... but the Avatar attacks Chrom anyways and weakens the attack so Chrom survives... but s/he does not tell Chrom or Lucina that they'll do that, so their Big "NO!" and reactions will genuinely fool Validar. Cue Basilio walking in talking about how they fooled them all.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Cerberus News Network extra had a few headlines about how an actor was nearly fried to death by freak space lightning during a film shoot, and went along with it. They kept it in and made trillions.
    • The Mass Effect 3 Citadel DLC features Shepard in a Blasto movie. The subsequent crisis causes Shepard to make one of his/her famous "Conversation Wheel Decisions", enforcing the acting... but not by a lot.
  • A Hat in Time: The Conductor is a big fan of this method when making his movies, faking a murder mystery for you to solve in his detective movie and actually destroying half his train as you rush through it to stop a real bomb from blowing up the whole thing for his action movie.
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: The entire killing game is really the latest season of a hugely popular reality show based on the Danganronpa games and anime. All of the students willingly and eagerly auditioned to kill each other as part of their favourite show, then had their memories and personalities erased and replaced with fictional "Ultimate Student" personalities and backstories from the Danganronpa universe. In the final chapter, the surviving characters are horrified by the revelation that they aren't real and all the pain and suffering they went through was just for a bloodthirsty audience's entertainment, especially after watching the audition tapes of their former selves which are the epitome of Nice Character, Mean Actor.

  • In one of the bonus strips from The Order of the Stick, Elan is trying to gain roleplaying XP by bemoaning a light wound. Belkar decides to help him with his motivation. Injury and Stabbing Ensue.
  • This trope is a running gag in the commentary of ''The B-Movie Comic". It's almost always Lee, the actor who plays snuka on the receiving end, but not always.
  • When Agatha performs in the travelling circus show in Girl Genius, Pix compliments her performance, saying that 'You really looked like someone was about to shoot you'. That was because in the audience was Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer, who had earlier attempted to do exactly that.
  • In Tower of God, Khun Aguero Agnes puts his teammate Wangnan through a nasty version at the start of the One Shot One Opportunity Contest. The announcer had just finished explaining the rules: Each contestant has just received a special gun with one bullet in it. To win a ticket from the contest, a contestant must either 1) shoot another contestant with their bullet from their gun, disqualifying and hurting them or 2) be shot by another contestant with a bullet that had been stolen from another contestant’s gun (in which case the gun modified the bullet to be harmless). Further, there was a special prize, Blood Tamara, for whoever shot another contestant first. Khun put his gun to Wangnan’s head as the game was about to start, saying that all he wanted was Blood Tamara—in order to get Wangnan to scream realistically enough to draw in some other overeager contestants hoping to pick up the remains of a team reeling from a betrayal so Khun could steal their bullets more easily. Even though it worked (and Khun even congratulated him on his loud screaming), Wangnan was a little upset.
  • White Dark Life features two characters who are actors with superpowers — Lucy Round and Dark Matthew Astarte. Lucy Round is a Superpower Lottery winnernote , but she mostly averts this trope, as she is also quite humble about her abilities, and is implied to not abuse them during a performance except to provide her own special effects. Dark Matt has Resurrective Immortalitynote ; he exploits this by specializing in portraying villainous characters who inevitably suffer a Cruel and Unusual Death.

    Web Original 
  • In-universe examples for the animated band Gorillaz: according to their biography, Rise of the Ogre, the band weren't told by their director Jamie Hewlett about the 300-foot elk that appears at the end of the "19/2000" video, so they'd look appropriately surprised. Also, the Groin Attack Murdoc suffers at the hands of the zombie ape in "Clint Eastwood" was apparently real, and caused his genitals to "swell up like big purple melons".

    Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode "My Three Suns", Bender tries this in order to make Fry cry to free the emperor trapped inside of him. Bender loudly exclaims about seeing Leela being captured and killed by rioters. It works, but only just so. Then Leela breaks the illusion by showing up in the room, entirely unharmed. They eventually get Fry to cry by beating the crap out of him.
    Fry: This can't be happening!
    Bender: It can, and for all you know, it is!
  • The Simpsons:
    • When filming the Radioactive Man movie, the director informs Rainier Wolfcastle at the last second that the acid being used in one of the scenes is real. What follows is one of the most memorable moments in Simpsons history.
    • In "The Great Money Caper" the entire town sets up a hoax on Homer and Bart to teach them not to con people, by creating a trick where Groundskeeper Willie is apprehended and found guilty for stealing Homer's car. The only person not in on the hoax? Willie himself, presumably to make his behavior more realistic.
    • One episode has Burns insisting that they whip extras for real during the recreation of the Bible stories. When Ned says no one will tell the difference if they add the sound in later, Burns says the extras being whipped will.
  • King of the Hill has Dale try this in one episode, and it actually backfires spectacularly: He tries to sue a tobacco company on the grounds that cigarette smoke made his wife Nancy uglier, and doesn't tell her his plan so she won't have to lie under oath. He overdoes it though, and endangers his marriage by insulting Nancy too harshly. He then spends his entire courtroom appearance establishing that he loves his wife, saving his marriage but destroying his case in the process.
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Masks", Robin doesn't tell his teammates that he's disguised himself as Red X because he wants their reactions to be believable in order to fool Slade. Unfortunately, it doesn't help as Slade was on to him from the start.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Green Isn't Your Color" features this in the form of Photo Finish boosting Fluttershy's Moe appeal by taking pictures of her natural reactions to harsh criticism.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars had an arc where Obi-Wan faked his death and disguised himself as his supposed killer, with Anakin and Ahsoka kept in the dark in order to make the ruse more convincing. Unfortunately, their reaction was to seek out his "murderer" and it almost derailed the entire plan.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In order to lure in a vital Imperial officer, Ryder pretends to defect and sell out the Rebellion's hideout. The only people who know beforehand are Ryder, Ezra (whose plan it was), and Hera, who's ready to serve as The Cavalry. As such, the Rebellion's shock at the sudden attack and Ryder's "betrayal" is genuine, fooling the Imperials completely until it's time to spring the trap.
  • In Steven Universe, Steven and Garnet plan to get Pearl and Amethyst to confess to wrongdoing by having Garnet pretend to blame Steven for their actions and punish him. In the middle of Steven's Bad "Bad Acting", the monster that Pearl and Amethyst accidentally freed attacks, which results in them finally admitting everything. Then it turns out the monster attack was faked by Garnet. From his reactions, Steven clearly wasn't informed of that part of the plan.
  • In BoJack Horseman, BoJack's considered suitable for the part of the deeply broken, suicidal racehorse Secretariat because he's so much a screw-up in real life, rather than because he's a good actor at all. In fact, once he's getting the movie made and feeling good about himself, he's unable to stop hamming up his line readings in the style of the dated sitcom-acting he's famous for, howling "what are youu-uuuu doing here!!" in Incoming Ham style in a scene that's supposed to be during the darkest day of his character's life. It's only after his real life implodes again that he's able to give the bitter, self-loathing line-read the scene calls for.


Video Example(s):


Alan Rickman's Fall

*From The Movies That Made Us* During Hans Gruber's final fall, Alan was let go, much earlier than he was told. His expression of fear is very real.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / EnforcedMethodActing

Media sources:

Main / EnforcedMethodActing