There's an eternal debate between defenders of method acting, where an actor will undergo any physical transformation they deem necessary to get into character, and those who consider that all these crazy, sometimes life-threatening achievements are actually distracting the actor from their skills.
As Laurence Olivier reportedly told Dustin Hoffman on the set of Marathon Man — although the quote has been refuted by Hoffman — when the latter would stay up all night if his character went through a sleepless night in the story: "Why not try acting? It's much easier."
Still, method acting has led to excellent performances by the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Jared Leto, who's recently made headlines with his antics on the set of the upcoming Suicide Squad. And it's not physical transformation only: some just never break out of character. While there's plenty of incredible proofs of dedication to pick from, here are nine actors who've impressed us — if not weirded us out — with the preparation of their roles.
1. Cara Delevingne
The former model has just recently started her acting career, and her role as Enchantress in Suicide Squad will certainly show us what she's capable of. No insane weight gain or loss here, but in this month's cover story for W magazine, she revealed she went through an odd bit of preparation at the director's request.
"There still wasn't a script, but David asked me to go and try and find a forest and, if it was a full moon, get naked and walk through the woods with my feet in the mud, which I did. There wasn't a full moon, but I howled like a wolf. It would have been really funny if someone had seen me."
We want proof!
2. Jared Leto
By now you've probably heard all about Jared Leto's performance as the Joker: how the cast never met the real Leto on set, how he sent them gifts ranging from a dead pig to used condoms, and how he practiced his creepy laugh in public.
But did you know he gained 67 lbs before Chapter 27, and lost 40 lbs for his role in Dallas Buyers Club? He admitted it was "a stupid thing to do," but you have to admit he's unrecognizable.
3. Christian Bale
For The Machinist, which tells the story of a factory worker plagued by insomnia, Christian Bale dropped a whopping 60 lbs by restricting his diet to coffee, an apple and a can of tuna. It's even more impressive when you realize that The Machinist was released just a year before Batman Begins.
4. Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis is arguably the most method actor of all: on the set of My Left Foot, in which he played a boy with cerebral palsy, he insisted on staying in his wheelchair at all times... and being spoon fed by members of the crew. He also got sick with pneumonia while filming Scorsese's Gangs of New York because he refused to wear a coat in order to get more into character. For The Last of the Mohicans, he spent six months living in the forest, hunting for food.
5. Adrien Brody
No one must hate method acting as much as Adrien Brody's girlfriend, who he dumped when he got the lead role in Roman Polanski's The Pianist. He played a Holocaust survivor and wanted to get the feeling of having lost everything, so he gave up all material comfort on top of leaving his partner — it reportedly helped him cry realistically on screen.
6. Chris Pratt
Before Chris Pratt showed off his dream bod on Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, he shed an impressive 60 lbs. And admitted that looking back, it hadn't been as hard as it seemed.
"If you just cut the crap out of your diet, and if you spend an hour a day doing something physical that will make you sweat, six months will pass by, you will feel better mentally, physically, spiritually — it all is tied together."
7. Natalie Portman & Mila Kunis
Co-stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis' work before Black Swan didn't only involve drastic weight loss — they also dove into the harsh reality of daily ballet training. Portman lost 20 lbs, and while she obviously didn't get as wrapped up in her ballerina role as her character, she felt she really pushed the limits of her work as an actress.
"It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down."
8. 50 Cent
50 Cent had based his role as an athlete battling cancer in All Things Fall Apart on a childhood friend who passed away, which fuelled his motivation to dedicate himself fully to the part. He lost 54 lbs in total.
"I had so much muscle on me that it was hard for me to lose definition even as I got lighter and slimmer. I started running to suppress my appetite. Towards the end it was really difficult. It was like, if I don't get close enough to what my best friend looked like to me at that point before he passed, then I'm not doing the story any justice."
That's impressive, and a beautiful tribute.