Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln And Four Upcoming Intense Method Performances

By Hannah Soo Park

Sometimes, an actor’s willingness to nail a role is so extreme, that their “method” manages to overshadow any hype surrounding the film itself.

From adapting bizarre on-set behaviors to drastically altering their appearances, recently, we’ve seen an influx of stars take “getting into character” a bit too far. Here, we break down a few recent tales of method acting that have caused us to raise our eyebrows and wonder if all of the fuss is in the name of brilliance or just sheer madness — and it looks like we’re not just dealing with a Brando-inspired mumble, anymore.

Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
The Character: Fantine, the starved prostitute
The Method: The Historically Accurate Diet Method
Hathaway managed to drop 25 pounds, telling Vogue that she allowed herself just “two thin squares of oatmeal paste” a day to achieve the look of “near death.” While we wonder why she would turn down the trendy Hollywood juice fasts and Master cleanses in favor of flavorless matter, the flat-out randomness of Anne’s diet makes us wonder if she actually picked it up while Googling researching the typical diet of a starved prostitute in mid-1800s France.
The Verdict: We admire Hathaway’s willingness to do some homework for the sake of her role. Anne broke our hearts in a tearful rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” in the movie’s trailer, and if just happens to be that the despair in her voice is stemmed from an excruciatingly limited diet, it looks like the deprivation paid off.

Matthew McConaughey, “The Dallas Buyer’s Club”
The Character: Ron Woodroof, a real-life HIV/AIDS patient
The Method: The Near-Self-Starvation Method
The man whose once buff body had a career of its own is now sporting a more whittled down frame to accurately portray an HIV patient. To do so, he’s been practicing a tried-and-true classic, which requires eating almost next to nothing all day to resemble a gravely ill or simply starved character. If he were lucky, he’d be able to take cues from Christian Bale’s reported “Machinist” prep and allow himself an apple a day (just one!), but it looks like the “Magic Mike” star is sticking to the liquids-only approach. He’s reportedly “drinking a lot of tea,” and by that, we think he hasn’t been chewing on much lately.
The Verdict: While foregoing food is never a healthy or safe approach, we do respect McConaughey’s ability to find his Zen in the deep, dark depths of self-starvation. “It’s a bit of a spiritual cleanse, mental cleanse,” he told Larry King on his experience.

Shia LaBeouf, “Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman”
The Character: Charlie Countryman
The Method: The Not-So-Fake Acid Trip Method
If there’s anyone who has the potential to dethrone Daniel Day-Lewis in all his method glory, it’s Shia LaBeouf. You see, LaBeouf is a huge fan of the Method, and he’s not afraid to openly discuss his craft. From talk of having real on-screen sex to harassing his “Lawless” co-star Mia Wasikowska in a drunken stupor, the daring young thespian is never shy when it comes to taking on his characters’ mannerisms — and that includes extreme drug habits. For his upcoming role in Mob flick “The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman,” the actor made sure his character’s acid trip wasn’t a fake one. “There’s a way to do an acid trip like ’Harold & Kumar,’ and there’s a way to be on acid,” La Beouf told USA Today.
The Verdict: Tripping on acid (for real) might’ve been fun for the actor, but it reportedly caused on-set discomfort. “Sometimes, it does get real,” LaBeouf said. “Too real for a [director] who’s trying to keep a diplomatic set.” Since this was Fredrik Bond’s first experience directing a feature film, we think it might’ve been more considerate of Shia to save the not-so-fake acid trip method for another role.

Leonardo DiCaprio, “Django Unchained”
The Character: Calvin Candie, villainous slave owner
The Method: The Bloody Hand Method
While playing an evil, racist plantation owner, DiCaprio had to showcase his angry, aggressive side. According to a “Django Unchained” crew member, the dedicated actor managed to pull out his wrath at just the right moment. In a heated moment for his character, DiCaprio reportedly slammed his hand on a table until he broke a glass and cut himself. “He never broke character,” producer Stacey Sher told Variety. “He kept going. He was in such a zone. It was very intense.”
The Verdict: We applaud DiCaprio for taking advantage of perfect timing. As an actor, why break out of character when you’re gifted with genuine pain? And if you haven’t already guessed it, the bloodied hand scene is the take that made the final cut.

Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
The Character: Abraham Lincoln
The Method: The Abe Lincoln Method
When it comes to really getting into character, the Abe Lincoln Method takes the cake. We’re almost positive that no other technique calls for crafting a historically accurate voice for a real-life character whose real-life voice was never recorded, texting your co-stars in old-time limericks, or refusing to get out of character for three whole months. Here’s to you, Daniel Day-Lewis.
The Verdict: With only a few statues and grainy photographs to rely on, we saw Day-Lewis bring life and vigor into the Civil War-era icon. And after watching the movie, we’re not sure which image we’ll remember the 16th president by: the Lincoln of “Lincoln” or five-dollar-bill Lincoln.