According to the definition of method acting on Wikipedia, method acting has been described to have “revolutionized” American theater. Within the dramatic arts, method acting is a specific technique actors will use to create within themselves the thoughts and feelings of their characters in order to develop more lifelike performances. Not all actors will use the same approach to method acting. The difference between method acting and classical acting is the character development. Method acting provided the first systematized training that allowed actors to develop their characters internally, such as sensory, psychological, and emotional; whereas classical acting only focused on the external talents of the characters. In a nutshell, classical training only cracked the surface of the characters for actors and method acting broke the internal barrier. But the question remains, is method acting too dangerous for actors to practice on a daily basis?
There are a lot of actors who practice method acting when it comes to their careers. The top two that stand out to me are Jared Leto and Heath Ledger. Both are known for playing the role of The Joker in the world of Gotham. Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker has been talked about for years since The Dark Knight was released and now that Jared Leto, most notably known as the front man of Thirty Seconds To Mars, people are gearing up to compare Leto’s performance to Ledger’s. However, one thing people will not understand is that no two actors use the same techniques of method acting. Jared Leto is known to use method acting religiously, which makes his performances so much more believable because he embraces his character completely.
According to devour.com, Ledger’s father posted a video of him showing the journal Ledger kept while he prepared for his role as The Joker. Ledger created his character from within by locking himself in a hotel room and keeping a “Joker” journal. According to hitfix.com, Will Smith is reported to have said that he’s never actually met Leto. Smith says they worked together for six months and never exchanged a word outside of ‘action’ and ‘cut’. Smith has only met The Joker because Leto fully immersed himself into the role for the duration of the film.
There is speculation that Ledger taking on the role of The Joker is the reason he ended up passing away too soon. That the psychological effects that were created when he prepared for the role took over and he couldn’t handle it, which is why he started taking drugs. According to Wikipedia, the psychological aspects of method acting include fatigue, fear, anxiety, shame, sleep deprivation, personality changes, and even psychotic disorders. Personally, this scares me because if these are side effects of trying to do your job, then why partake in it? Why put yourself through so much anguish for one simple role? Why even let a role define you like that? Despite my research, the question still stands. How dangerous is method acting to actors who use it for every role? Does it depend on the role? Or are there other underlying factors that are always overlooked?