Method Acting is a controversial practice in the field of performance. The core gist of it is this: an actor tries to replicate the life circumstances, mannerisms and emotional feelings of the character he portrays, so as to give realism, legitimacy and dramatic strength to his performance. An actor playing a character from history might research the character, look for media featuring him, and try to live in the same conditions that that character lived, provided that doing so would not be detrimental to his mental or physical health. A character in a deep depression might make him reflect on his own moments of sadness and bring those feelings forth. He might gain or lose weight to fit a character who is morphologically different from him, but this is generally frowned upon (despite what Robert De Niro would have you believe).
Though Method Acting has produced powerful and affecting performances, it is increasingly finding itself coming under fire for its inherent limitations. Method actors are pretty notorious as being hard to work with because of their involvement with their roles. When all's said and done, method acting is a search for perfection in performance, so method actors sometimes have confrontations with cast and crew over the direction his character takes. Also, well, it's hard to give directions to an actor when he's in-character even off-camera (note that not all Method Actors do this, although they do have a reputation for it). Nonetheless, many of the greatest performances in movie history have resulted from an actor who completely immersed himself in the role. Method acting is, above all, not easy. It takes its toll on the actors, both physically and emotionally, and as mentioned earlier, can result in friction between the actor and the rest of the production staff. But when a performance was well method acted, it shows.
For the involuntary version of this, see Enforced Method Acting. For when a writer/director casts an actor for his natural fit into a role (natural method acting, if you may), see Write Who You Know. If the character falls too deep into their role, they may become Lost in Character.
Technically speaking, Method Acting refers to an outgrowth of Konstantin Stanislavski's technique as developed and popularized by Lee Strasberg. Stanislavski's own method, further developed after Strasberg's contact with the Russian's theories, is known as the System. In fact, in acting circles, there are several schools of the Method. Strasberg's version is the best known, with the Actor's Studio being the most revered training ground. But there are also the theories of Stella Adler (who counted both Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro among her students), who was the only one to apprentice under Stanislavski himself. She felt Strasberg's focus on personal identification with the character got Stanislavski all wrong, and that the performer should be using his or her imagination to develop their performance. Sanford Meisner, who knew both Strasberg and Adler personally, developed his own spin on Method ideas, centered on the belief that performers should learn to act based on instinct (Meisner's long list of protégés include Gregory Peck, Steve McQueen, Grace Kelly, and Jeff Goldblum).
There is, needless to say, much debate between followers as to which is the "true" Method, with the likes of Elia Kazan believing it to be a highly personal, subjective actor-to-actor thing rather than a dogma. It should be noted that while for Stanislavski it was important that every actor (for example, even those playing 'Guard #3') research heavily and work just as hard as the actors playing the lead characters, Method Acting in modern cinema is usually only practised by the leading actors for main characters. In addition, one of the most well-known aspects, emotional/affective memory, is a cornerstone in the more modern development of the Method, whereas Stanislavski later noted its limitations in eliciting performance after one protégé had a mental breakdown.
A disclaimer is probably needed for anyone looking to try method acting: the process is controversial for a reason. Not only is it physically and emotionally exhausting, but it can also cause lasting psychological harm to an actor. This is because acting can alter the activity of a person's brain to fit the character they're portraying; staying in one role for too long will cause that character to gradually override the actor's state of mind, and suddenly dropping the character after a performance is complete can really throw the actor for a loop. In many cases, method acting gone wrong can result in the actor facing severe mental health issues and a lack of personal identity, hence the aforementioned case of Stanislavski's student breaking down. Actors who specialize in method acting often have to take long breaks between roles in order to recover from the immense psychological strain they cause, and some, like Daniel Day-Lewis, retire much earlier than non-method actors partly because of the dangers posed by the craft.
Real Life Examples:
- Shia LaBeouf actually took acid for his role in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman. Not off-screen just so he'd know what it felt like, but while he actually was shooting the film. For Fury (2014) he cut his face, pulled a tooth, and stopped bathing, which got him kicked out of the cast accommodations.
- Judging by the bloopers of the Madea movies, Tyler Perry stays 100% in character.
- Probably no actor has been associated with method acting quite as prominently as Daniel Day-Lewis. He simply IS his character for the duration of his role and gets so deep that he, in certain cases, even refuses to learn his lines because he feels that doing so will add an element of artifice to his performances. For his Academy Award-winning performance in My Left Foot, he did not leave his wheelchair, speak coherently, or even feed himself for the entire filming. For Last of the Mohicans he became a survivalist living off the land. For his role in In the Name of the Father, he lived in a prison cell, basically starved himself and asked the cast and crew to constantly verbally abuse him. While this definitely does result in amazing and spontaneous performances, it also made him one of the most notoriously picky and difficult actors to work with in all of Hollywoodnote . His immersion in his roles is often just as damaging to himself as it is to his coworkers; he had to quit stage acting after becoming so involved in playing Hamlet that he had an actual mental breakdown on-stage, hallucinating that his deceased father's angry spirit had appeared to torment him during the scene with the King's ghost. Whatever one's opinion of him and his method, though, there's no debating that he is one of the most admired and critically acclaimed actors working today. With his win for Lincoln in 2013, he became the first man to win three Best Actor Oscars.
- Christian Bale is very well-known for method acting, putting intense amounts of preparation into whatever role he plays and getting deep into characternote . For example, the door to his trailer on the set of Batman Begins read "Bruce Wayne" rather than "Christian Bale". He's noted for being very adept at mimicking accents. Once he picks one for a role, he will keep it throughout productionnote and do promotion interviews with it because he wants people to focus on what he's saying and not be jarred by his natural Welsh accent. He will also put in an insane amount of effort to transform his body to suit the character he's playing◊. He was literally anorexic for the filming of The Machinist, only to bulk up to a practically bodybuilder-like physique for Batman Begins. Like Daniel Day-Lewis, he'd developed a reputation as someone difficult to work with but seems to be easing up on more recent movies as behind-the-scenes photos and videos of him breaking character and goofing off occasionally pop up on the internet.
- Marlon Brando is arguably the first great method actor.... until he started phoning in it, wearing ice buckets on his head, etc. However, given a role and script that interest him, like Last Tango in Paris and he proves to be super-efficient and competent and a darling to the crew.
- Most of the cast of Band of Brothers went through Enforced Method Acting, but Frank John Hughes (Bill Guarnere) was a full-on method actor. The actors playing the replacement soldiers were ostracised by most of the cast, but Hughes took Robin Laing under his wing because Guarnere had done so to Babe Heffron. Hughes also carved 'Fran' into his weapon because that had been the name of Guarnere's wife. Mark Huberman (Les Hashey) said that when the real Guarnere came on set, he asked what he thought of the real Hashey. When Guarnere said he never liked him, Huberman joked that as soon as Hughes heard that, he never spoke to him again on set (though he did assure him it was for the sake of method acting).
- Forest Whitaker's method acting finally earned him the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.
- Especially at the beginning of his career, Robert De Niro was a prolific method actor. His roles in Raging Bull and Taxi Driver are notable examples. Allegedly, in The Untouchables, he insisted upon wearing the same clothes made by Al Capone's tailor, even the underwear.
- Adrien Brody practically starved himself and gave away his car and home as part of his preparation for his role in Roman Polański's The Pianist. It evidently paid off, making him the youngest (three weeks before his 30th birthday) Best Actor winner in Oscar history.
- Hilary Swank prepared for both of her Oscar-winning roles in this way.
- Before playing a trans man in Boys Don't Cry, she lived as a man for a month (she was so convincing that her neighbors thought the "young man" was Swank's visiting brother). Also, when the director confronted her about lying about her age when auditioning, she replied that that is what her character would have done.
- When she had a severe staph infection from boxing training for Million Dollar Baby, she didn't tell anyone because, again, she believed that's not what her character would have done. Unfortunately, it almost ended up killing her.
- Heath Ledger dived deep to get into character as The Joker for The Dark Knight. He locked himself away in a motel room for weeks and kept an in-character journal to try and make sense of the Joker's psychology. During this time, Ledger meticulously developed Joker's every tic to create a personification of chaosnote . This resulted in one of the most powerful performances in film history, as well as a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
- Interestingly, military fiction is an entire GENRE that pretty much demands method acting from performers. Actors getting actual military training for their roles is pretty much a given in any proper military work.
- An interesting double-twist: for Saving Private Ryan, all the actors except Matt Damon had training, which subconsciously gave the other actors contempt for him being a rookie who is being removed from combat and discharged, reflecting the characters. Clever move, Spielberg.
- It should be noted that Damon was not exempt from the training every other actor went through, but rather, was brought in during the final weeks of a very grueling boot camp and generally treated with much more leniency than the others. Same effect, though.
- Similarly, when producing Aliens, James Cameron had all of the actors playing the Space Marines attend a Hollywood boot camp, except for the actor playing Lieutenant Gorman. Also, their introductory scenes were filmed last, to give the best impression that these were people who knew each other and worked together.
- Tropic Thunder (see fictional examples) was directly inspired by how rampant this trope is in war movies, as well as being a massive Take That! / Deconstruction towards the method. Ben Stiller played an extra in Empire of the Sun early in his career, and was deeply disgusted by how unduly arrogant his fellow actors tended to behave after the Hollywood boot camp sessions, talking like they were real soldiers because they did a couple training exercises for about a week.
- An interesting double-twist: for Saving Private Ryan, all the actors except Matt Damon had training, which subconsciously gave the other actors contempt for him being a rookie who is being removed from combat and discharged, reflecting the characters. Clever move, Spielberg.
- James Dean was a method actor to the extreme, although it often worked: he kept everyone waiting while he brooded in his dressing room on the set of Rebel Without a Cause, but then pulled off the police station scene in one take. He also ad-libbed the very effective moment in East of Eden when Cal breaks down and tearfully embraces his father when he refuses to accept the money he is offering (much to Raymond Massey's obvious shock). Not everyone was a fan of his style, though; he annoyed Rock Hudson to no end with his extensive preparation on Giant.
- Dustin Hoffman is another method actor. There's a famous anecdote about classical actor Laurence Olivier's reaction to his method when they worked together on Marathon Man; Hoffman decided to stay up for three nights to look the part, to which Olivier reacted with the amusing line: "Try acting dear boy, it's much easier." (Olivier himself said later that the anecdote was a result of Out-of-Context Eavesdropping, and that although he did say something of the sort to Hoffman it was in response to something unrelated to the Method. But it's such a neat story that it persists regardless.) Like Daniel Day-Lewis, Hoffman's devotion to method acting is known for making him difficult to work with, and he is sometimes cited as an example of taking it way too far; while filming Kramer vs. Kramer, he became so immersed in his role as an embittered divorcee fighting a nasty custody battle that he came to genuinely despise his co-star Meryl Streep as if she were his ex-wife, hurling constant and horrific verbal abuse at her before eventually punching her in the face just to get into character, prompting an enraged Streep to swear she would never work with him again (and she hasn't).
- Andy Kaufman was a method actor who took the technique far beyond stage and screen. With certain characters, he absolutely refused to break because there were always people around from whom he could get a reaction. His dedication was such that his gags could last days or weeks. His "Tony Clifton" persona, in particular, was so all-consuming that Tony was treated as a separate entity, even getting separate contracts from Andy.
- Jim Carrey pretended to be Andy Kaufman for the entire duration of filming Man on the Moon, which drove most of his coworkers nuts. Once production wrapped up though, Carrey found himself feeling hollow inside, his entire state of mind having been shattered by the Kaufman persona. Much of his more infamous antics since then can be attributed in part to the sheer extent to which his mind was messed up by the persona.
- It actually became strange as Jim Carrey began developing strange tics and specific movements that Kaufman himself would do, but which weren't actually in the script. Andy Kaufman's old friends who were working on the movie just decided to let it ride and figured "hey, Andy's back with us for a few months".
- Kaufman himself was known to stay in character while being on set, which is likely why Carrey himself decided to work this way.
- John Simm received Stanislavskian training at drama school. He's been known to starve himself, consuming only coffee and cigarettes in order to play Vincent van Gogh and to refuse hospital treatment after breaking some ribs while playing Raskolnikov because the fever and the pain "added to his performance". He also experimented with drugs when preparing for Human Traffic. When he was preparing to play Bernard Sumner in 24-Hour Party People, he was constantly listening to tapes of Sumner's interviews on his Walkman in order to get his voice right.
- Andy Serkis met his wife while they were playing a couple on stage. They went on a date in character to prepare for the role and then started seeing each other in real life.
- Johnny Depp would never call himself a Method actor, but appears to have shades of it nonetheless—he does extensive research and background reading on nearly all of his roles, especially when portraying real people. He even lived with friend Hunter S. Thompson when portraying him in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, saying he had to "steal a bit of his soul." (He also let Hunter, who was wearing a mining hat at that time, shave his head.) On Edward Scissorhands, his commitment nearly became Fatal Method Acting: he passed out from heat exhaustion while filming the scene when Edward flees down the street back to his castle.
- Michael Fassbender dropped a terrifying amount of weight to accurately portray activist Bobby Sands in Hunger—and he doesn't have a lot of weight available to lose in the first place. He also did extensive interviews with real-life sex addicts for Shame.
- Similarly, Elliot Page dropped weight over the course of filming An American Crime, in which he portrayed Sylvia Likens, a real-life young woman who was tortured and starved and eventually died in her neighbor's basement. When asked if he was eating normally, he said: "No, because Sylvia wasn't being fed."
- Ed Harris is famous for his method acting bringing intensity and sometimes scariness. (The video shows that even flubbing his lines he refuses to break out of the overtly stern general he was playing.)
- Joaquin Phoenix has proven to be a strong method actor in recent years, with his Andy Kaufman-esque experiment I'm Still Here (in which he spent over a year pretending to be an out of control burnout and fooling almost everyone in the process) and the film The Master (where he stayed in character for three months and was later compared to Daniel Day-Lewis by director Paul Thomas Anderson).
- Jodie Foster while she was working on Nell revealed that she is not normally a method actress ("They go to acting class and learn to melt like an ice cream cone"), but had to become one for this part. She lived in the house, ate Nell's food, and almost "channeled" the character as she developed her gestural language.
- Another non-Method actor who had to be one for a specific role was Frank Langella when he played Richard Nixon in the stage version of Frost/Nixon. He said the dramatic tension in the play more or less required it.
I did not want to go out of character, even for a minute, when I was offstage. I would go to the darkest corner at the back of the stage and just stay with my thoughts and wait. When I was required, the stage manager had to come over to me and say, 'Mr. President, you are needed onstage.'
- When he was cast as Cardassian spy-turned-tailor Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Andrew Robinson prepared for his role by writing a 200-plus page character outline and Backstory for Garak, which he used as his personal bible for the character. The show's producers approved of most of his backstory, except for portions that went counter to established Cardassian history. Robinson later used most of his outline as the basis for his Expanded Universe novel A Stitch In Time.
- Prior to filming The Hustler, Paul Newman had never held a pool cue before. To prepare for the role, he took out the dining room table from his home and installed a pool table so he could spend all his free time practicing.
- As part of her research, Piper Laurie actually hung out at the Greyhound bus terminal at night.
- An Older Than Feudalism example: In a production of Sophocles' Electra, an actor named Polus, in order to convincingly play the part of the grief-stricken heroine mourning her brother, came on stage carrying an urn containing the ashes of his own son.
- According to the "Making of a Legend" featurette on 20th Anniversary DVD of RoboCop (1987), Peter Weller attempted to do this in the first few weeks of filming, insisting that the cast and crew call him either (depending on the scene) RoboCop, Alex or Murphy during filming. This later got dropped, but director Paul Verhoeven, and actors Kurtwood Smith (Boddicker) and the late Miguel Ferrer (Morton) thought it was too silly and respectively refused to indulge it, refused to talk to Weller outside of filming scenes together for the first week, and busted his chops over it.
- The water torture done to JJ Jareau in the 200th episode of Criminal Minds was actually done to actress AJ Cook, who volunteered in order to make it more real.
- For Lorenzo's Oil, Nick Nolte followed Augusto Odone around for months, observing and copying minutiae of his speech, dress, gestures, posture, even minor habits — like hanging his glasses off one ear. Odone had wanted Marcello Mastroianni for the role; he thought Nolte made him sound like an ice cream vendor in New York's Little Italy.
- Lee Pace: his character Roy Walker in The Fall was bedridden and possibly paralyzed. He pretended to be a paraplegic and answered to the name "Roy" for the first 12 weeks of filming so his six-year-old fellow costar Catinca Untaru would act believably. Almost everyone on set thought he had lost the use of his legs in an accident. A lot of people were ticked when they found out the truth.
- Mel Blanc is a rare example of a method voice actor: it has been said that when he stepped into the booth to do voice acting, one could tell which character he was portraying without even having to hear his lines. This extends to one of his most famous roles, Bugs Bunny: in order to get the sound of Bugs chewing on a carrot just right, he would chew on raw carrots himself and would spit them back out since he couldn't swallow them quickly enough. It's been often claimed that Blanc did this in spite of hating the taste (or even being allergic to them), but in his autobiography, he wrote that while he wasn't terribly fond of raw carrots, "hate" was an overstatement.
- BJ Ward is another voice acting example. During her stint as the voice of Velma in Scooby-Doo, she would wear turtle-neck sweaters and glasses to the recording sessions to help get into character.
- Jared Leto caused much internet eye-rolling with his much-publicised creepy on-set antics while playing the Joker in Suicide Squad (2016), which included things like sending dead animals and used sexual items to his costars. When the film came out, his his character's part was smaller than the level of attention led most to believe, and his performance in general was considered a Character Tic Cliché Storm. Several commentators went so far as to suggest that Leto's puerile, superficial view of the Method and resulting bad performance (his behaviour being so insufferable that his coworkers couldn't talk to him about the film) may have caused the whole pursuit to fall out of fashion.
- A pretty funny example: Voice actor J. Michael Tatum once came from a recording session of Black Butler to Hetalia: Axis Powers he couldn't get himself to do the voice of France, who has a completely different accent to Sebastian, who is English. When Tatum takes a Snuggy, yes, a Snuggy and when he wears it, France's voice comes back to him.
- On Lois & Clark, John Shea took Lex Luthor very seriously. Not only did he study Nietzsche, but he checked himself into John Jay College of Criminal Justice in-character to get a diagnosis on 'his' pathology.
- In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chadwick Boseman spoke in his character's African accent in between takes and during bloopers so he wouldn't lose it.
- In a downplayed and nonspecific example, many actors playing villainous or otherwise despicable characters find it difficult to flip between being chummy with their costars offset but general assholes onset. Such actors will typically keep their distance from the rest of the cast, interacting with them as little as possible.
- Polly Holiday as Mrs. Deagle in Gremlins, leading Zach Galligan to think that she really wasn't a nice person.
- Mark Metcalf in both Animal House and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Ted White as Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, though that was eventually subverted in an awesome moment of Mean Character, Nice Actor.
- During the recording sessions for Who Framed Roger Rabbit Charles Fleischer wore an outfit similar to Roger's and rabbit ears while recording Roger's lines.
- Vincent D'Onofrio is a method actor and teaches the technique as well. He explains that it goes much deeper than understanding, assuming, and maintaining a character. Beneath it all, a true method actor will develop an entire internal monologue that runs parallel to the spoken dialogue and have that running through their head while performing. This is really apparent in roles like Wilson Fisk in Daredevil (2015), or Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.
- To better understand the character of Hercule Poirot, David Suchet read Agatha Christie's novels and stories in depth to create a detailed written dossier that he'd regularly consult to make sure his performance was in keeping with what he thought was Christie's vision. In addition, he'd maintain the character's accent and mannerisms as long as the mustache was on his lip.
- While playing Elsa in Frozen (2013), Idina Menzel "was holding my hands in the studio and not letting my hands move too much when I was talking in order to portray the "stereotypically regal" character.
- As noted above, Jeff Goldblum studied under Sanford Meisner, and as follows he can be extremely committed to his roles whether he is given room to improvise (as in Thor: Ragnarok) or not (his work with Wes Anderson, in which he cannot change a single word — not even an article), though he's come to rely less on this trope over time. The most extreme case was playing Seth Brundle in The Fly (1986): He regularly worked out with weights to achieve Seth's initial post-fusion physique and was able to do most of the start and endpoints of the acrobatic routines that were otherwise performed by doubles who were professional gymnasts, and drank a great deal of coffee to achieve the "speedy little tempo rhythm" of a fly (he even kept one in a plastic bag to observe its movements!), all of this on top of the physical contortions, speech therapy, and hours of makeup needed for the later stages of his Slow Transformation. He also took Seth's insecurity over his relationship with Veronica so much to heart — not hard to do given she was played by his actual lover at the time, Geena Davis — that, while watching the filming of the scenes between her and the third corner of the Love Triangle, he fussed over how they were playing out to the point of once being asked to leave the set. The payoff of all this was his Star-Making Role.
- Many Narcos cast members personally met the historical figures they would portray on the show, in order to ensure the authenticity of their performances. Boyd Holbrook in particular arranged for himself and Pedro Pascal to receive a week of DEA training from the real Steve Murphy and Javier Peña.
- While recording "Somebody Should Leave," Reba McEntire needed something sad to think about, to make her voice convey the sorrow in the lyrics. She pictured her dog's recent miscarriage, and how the dog looked up at her with such misery in her eyes after losing her puppies.
- The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal and his body doubles, Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder, sometimes continue to wear Mandalorian helmets in between takes, even after shedding the rest of the armor for street clothes. While recording ADR, Pascal copies Mando's motions, going so far as to use a pillow as a decoy for the Child. For scenes that Lucasfilm shot with either Wayne or Crowder instead of Pascal, he'd ask the double for Mando's thoughts and emotions while preparing for the dubbing session.
- Maya Kitajima from Glass Mask acts by imagining herself as the character and thinking like them instead of following the script. Play a blind-deaf girl? Live several days with bound eyes and plugged ears. Play a wolf? Drive your roommate insane by only walking on all fours and communicating with animal noises. One notable example of her training includes pretending to eat her favourite food from an empty bowl by her past experience of eating ramen while the rest failed to do so.
- In-Universe, Kirk Lazarus from Tropic Thunder is famous for taking method acting to ridiculous extremes, having gotten plastic surgery to play a black man for his role in the Movie Within the Movie. And for all of his roles, he always stays in character 24/7 until he is done recording the DVD Commentary.
- In the actual DVD Commentary for Tropic Thunder, Robert Downey Jr. stayed true to his character's word and did it entirely in-character as Kirk Lazarus in-character as Lincoln Osiris. When they get to the "I don't break character until after the DVD commentary" line in the movie, Ben Stiller tells him to knock it off, and he does so... continuing the commentary as Kirk Lazarus. When Lazarus finally breaks character near the end of the movie, so does Robert Downey Jr. in the commentary.
- In the webcomic Superosity, one actor acting Jar Jar Binks went for this to an extreme point: having his brain moved to an actual bioengineered body of Jar Jar Binks.
- In Skip Beat!, method acting is the bread and butter of Kyoko, to the extreme of sometimes dressing and acting off-set like the character she is filming now.
- The story "Type Cast" in issue #24 of Creepy featured Roland Bryce, who, forced into horror roles despite hating them, gets in-character by actually mutilating corpses, sacrificing animals and so on. He eventually snaps from guilt and pressure and strangles his agent, ending up in an asylum, which he's mistakenly released from some time later. The asylum director, calling to check on him, is informed that he has a job at another studio. The picture he's appearing in? The Story of Jack the Ripper...
- In Castle, Natalie Rhodes is preparing to play Nikki Heat. To do so, she shadows Kate Beckett, the detective who inspired the character, imitating and analyzing everything she does. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Hoodwinked!, Kirk Kirkkendall is an actor trying to land the job as the lumberjack character in a TV commercial for Paul's Bunion Foot Cream (which has the "soothing formula to make the bunions head for the hills"). When Kirk is told that he's landed the spot, the director instructs him to go out into the forest and cut down an actual tree, emphasizing, "Don't act like a woodsman, be a woodsman." Kirk's first attempts to cut a tree down are unsuccessful due to his spectacular incompetence at holding an axe, though he improves once he comes upon a copy of the book Chopping for Actors. It all goes well until he comes to a giant redwood tree. It becomes almost Fatal Method Acting, since after Kirk has managed to cut away a large "bite" that leaves the tree balancing very precariously, it gives way and falls on top of him. He ends up on top of the trunk as it rolls down a hill, and when it hits a pair of small trees at the bottom, he is catapulted into the window of Granny Puckett's cottage, where by Contrived Coincidence, a domestic disturbance is happening.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Actor," Stanley Tucci plays David Ruskin, a renowned film and stage actor who is to portray Monk in an upcoming film adaptation of the Steve Wagner case ("Mr. Monk and the Astronaut"). To get into the part of Monk, he shadows Monk for a couple of days to learn more about Monk's different mannerisms, and his investigative processes, even being allowed into two different homicide scenes to observe. However, during the second crime scene investigation at a pawnshop, Natalie excuses herself to the back alleyway as Monk coaches Ruskin on how to say his catchphrase "It's a gift and a curse". Monk finds her out back:
Adrian Monk: There you are! What are you doing?Natalie Teeger: Just getting some air.Adrian Monk: There's a lot of air inside. Everybody's in there breathing away.Natalie Teeger: Yeah, it's a little stuffy for me in there. "It's a gift! And a curse! It's a gift and a curse, it's a gift and a curse!"Adrian Monk: Okay?Natalie Teeger: Okay Mr. Monk, don't you see? It's already happening!Adrian Monk: What is?Natalie Teeger: Okay, I've been doing a little research on your new "pal". Two years ago, David Ruskin played an alcoholic in a TV movie. He got so into it, he had to check himself into rehab for three months!Adrian Monk: A lot of people check themselves into rehab.Natalie Teeger: He doesn't drink! That's the thing! He had all the symptoms of an alcoholic without drinking! He's had at least two other breakdowns! Mr. Monk, I think this man is dangerous! I think he's dangerous to you.Adrian Monk: Maybe he's just dedicated. Did you ever think of that? [Natalie sighs] Natalie, they're making a movie about me! Now this is something I might actually come close to, almost, enjoying!
- Natalie's warning does come true. When Stottlemeyer and Disher sit in on a rehearsal of one of the scenes in the TV movie (specifically, the producers' version of the scene at Joanne Raphelson's house), everything goes well (minus the fact that Randy is played by a woman and is Stottlemeyer's romantic partner, which clearly does not go over well with the real Stottlemeyer or Disher) until Ruskin starts performing his lines. He suddenly breaks character in the middle of the take and storms off frustrated due to the mishmash of the crewmen's hats. Things get downhill from there when he ends up basically shooing Monk out of his own apartment. Later, Ruskin is so into the part of Monk that he even goes to the parking garage where Trudy was killed while wearing a wig that could easily allow him to look like Tony Shalhoub, and when the police identify the double homicide's culprit as a car salesman named Jack Leverett, Ruskin misinterprets the news brought to "him" by a parking attendant as being that they've found Trudy's killer. Hence, a simple arrest doesn't work because Ruskin actually takes Leverett hostage with a revolver. The real Monk arrives shortly thereafter and has to talk Ruskin down before he does something outright dangerous.
- A Mr. Show features a (fictional) documentary about a method actor named Borden Grote (played by David Cross) who did research (about doctors and . . . crowds) for roles in which he appeared for seconds. The documentary features him after he's removed the frontal lobe of his brain to prepare for a role involving abuses at a mental institution. The interviewer and his staff talk about his lifestyle seemingly unaware of something being wrong with him. Cross revealed that he was influenced to make this sketch after hearing about Meryl Streep supposedly laying on a block of ice to play herself dead in a film.
- In the Robert A. Heinlein novel Double Star, Lorenzo Smythe uses some amount of this to get into his characters, and even used the psychotic aspect of one character as a crutch when he had to chop up a body.
- Sticky Dilly Buns satirizes the concept in the person of Dillon, a Camp Gay actor who claims to take the Method very seriously — and who seems to get a lot of cross-dressing roles.
- In Birdman, Mike Shiner is an extreme proponent of this. He drinks real gin on stage during a preview performance, nearly rapes Leslie while on stage, and demands that Riggan get a more realistic looking gun, all in an effort to be "more real."
- In one episode of the animated series Beetlejuice, the eponymous character ends up playing the role of Captain Ahab in a production of Moby-Dick and gets so into it he starts thinking he really is Ahab. When informed of this, the whale playing Moby just rolls his eyes and makes a disparaging comment about method actors.
- The Kurt Vonnegut short story "Who Am I This Time?", the main character is very nondescript but completely immerses himself in every character he plays in the local community theater. When an attractive woman meets him while he's playing a role, she starts falling in love with him, which worries other town residents because his personality is completely and solely the role he plays.
- "All the Sounds of Fear" by Harlan Ellison gives this a really disturbing spin— the actor ultimately gets Lost in Character and in his final breakdown is revealed to be a faceless shapeshifter.
- One Season 4 episode of Gilmore Girls has Kirk attempting to get in character when he was cast as Jesus in The Last Supper for the festival of living pictures. He went overboard with it by eating lentil, wearing robes, preaching to the crowd and despising one of his neighbors who is cast as Judas Iscariot that it nearly led into a brawl between them.
- In Don't Starve: Reign of Giants, Wigfrid the Viking Warrior is actually just an actress, dedicated to living out her latest role despite the circumstances.
- Fox and O'Hare: Recurring accomplice Boyd Capwell lives and breathes it, to the point where he's willing to go days without brushing his teeth for a mouthwash commercial.
- Act-age has two distinct examples:
- Kei is utterly unable to act a scene unless she can vividly feel the same emotions as her character, so either she recalls those emotions from her past experiences, or she finds a way to recreate them indirectly.
- Myoujin Araya, introduced in chapter 23, outright experiences the living conditions of his characters. That can include holing up in the mountains for a month and hunting bears. And he does kill one.
- The bread and butter of the Villain Team in Hero Class Civil Warfare. Izuku even studied several famous fictional supervillains to understand what made them compelling. Izuku even has the villain team spend time together before the exercise so they would get used to seeing themselves as a team. He even has Momo and Mei make all them specialized suits and dresses so they could deeper commit to the role.
- In Hiccup the Useless, Stoick left Hiccup out of his plan to paint Snotlout as the Hero of Berk to draw attention away from Hiccup because he wanted to sell it that Hiccup's reputation has not changed since the Meathead's last visit. Unfortunately, this backfires badly, as everyone overcompensates to the point where Hiccup is driven to an attempted suicide.
- In The Cry of Mann, Sam, Taylor and Casper all admitted to getting very deep into their roles. Sam spent three months acting as a mail man and even continued to stay in-character while on set. Taylor spent her days reading real-world missing-persons reports and gave her very minor character some deep, dark backstory. Casper...checks his mail and his email daily.
- Victorious: The season one finale has Sikowitz teaching his class about method acting. This involves a contest in which his students must adopt personas and stay in character as long as possible. The last person to stay in character is considered the winner.