wouldn’t describe his Shia LaBeouf acting style as Method—the all-encompassing approach stretching back to the days of Konstantin Stanislavski and Lee Strasberg. However, the actor certainly appears dedicated to the creative process. You’ve heard the stories: from not bathing for Fury and being drunk on moonshine for Lawless to sending his own sex tape to Lars Von Trier to land a starring role in Nymphomaniac… LaBeouf’s latest project, The Tax Collector , sees him reunite with Fury director David Ayer. In an interview with Slashfilm earlier this year, Ayer discussed the lengths to which LaBeouf went to portray (and perhaps hype) his character, a crime boss tax collector called Creeper.
“He’s one of the best actors I’ve worked with, and he’s the most committed to body and soul,” the director explained. “He had a tooth pulled on ‘Fury,’ and then on ‘Tax Collector,’ he got his whole chest tattooed. So, he kind of goes all in, and I’ve never known anyone that committed.”
That’s right, the actor once known for playing Louis Stevens got his entire chest tattooed to look the part. According to artist Bryan Ramirez, the top portion of his ink is inspired by LaBeouf’s parents while “Creeper” can be seen near the bottom. Check it out below.
LaBeouf often gets a bad reputation for going overboard. Who can blame the guy? When you (and the entire world) define yourself by your art, that art becomes you. In honor of LaBeouf’s commitment, the following list showcases other thespians who have famously discarded practicality in favor of theatricality.
Cover Photo: RLJE Films
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Ways Thespians Have Gotten Into Character
Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight is career-defining, a performance to trump all other performances. Unfortunately, an unwarranted number of rumors revolve around Heath Ledger’s relationship with the role. What we do know is that Ledger locked himself away in a London hotel for a month, writing journal entries as the character, figuring out the laugh, and getting in the Clown Prince of Crime’s headspace. Intense? Perhaps. However, Ledger’s approach sounds a lot more pragmatic than Jared Leto’s, who sent anal beads, condoms, and a dead rat to his castmates while filming Suicide Squad .
The Cast of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'
Director Milos Forman had the cast of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest actually live at the psychiatric ward where the movie was filmed during production. Some of their group therapy sessions and interactions with real patients were even filmed without their knowledge.
Marlon Brando was the Daniel Day-Lewis of his time. To play an injured World War II lieutenant in 1950's The Men , Brando spent a month in a veteran’s hospital pretending to be an injured vet. Ethical? Probably not.
Christian Bale is the king of losing and gaining weight for a role. Over the last decade (or so) he’s gone down to 121 pounds for 2004’s The Machinist , then bulked up to 190 for 2005’s Batman Begins , lost more weight for 2006’s Rescue Dawn , bulked back up for 2008’s The Dark Knight , lost weight again for 2010’s The Fighter , bulked up again for 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises , went up to a plump 223 for 2013’s American Hustle , and, more recently, consumed a deplorable amount of cherry pies to play former Vice President Dick Cheney in 2018’s Vice . Jesus.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams
Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine sees Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play a married couple whose relationship experiences some very real-feeling ups and downs. The film was shot in three parts: the beginning of the relationship, the middle, and the end. For the middle portion of the relationship, Cianfrance had Gosling, Williams, and the child actor who played their daughter move in together. The three thespians lived together for an entire month (during the day at least). Over this month, they celebrated fake Christmas, birthdays, fought, went to the park—everything they could to create real memories.
There’s a reason Jaime Foxx won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ray Charles in 2004’s Ray . He did everything he could to resemble the legendary musician. The actor lost 30 pounds, glued his eyes shut for 14 hours a day while filming, and had a dentists chip his teeth to look more like Ray Charles’.
Queen of the Academy Awards, Meryl Streep knows how to go Method without going full Method. For her role in Sophie’s Choice , in which she plays a Holocaust survivor, the actress learned how to speak both Polish and German. Not just some words are phrases, she learned how to speak it fluently (or so the story goes). That’s a skill that remains even after the credits roll.
Many will recognize Choi Min-sik as from Park Chan-wook’s original Oldboy (much better than that Josh Brolin movie). The film follows Min-sik’s character, who is abducted and held captive in a windowless room for 15 years. Min-sik endured some of the same torture as his character, including burning his flesh with hot wire for every year in captivity and eating a live octopus in one take.
When one thinks of Method acting these days, they think of Daniel Day-Lewis. This thespian doesn’t take on many roles but when he does, he almost always gets an Oscar nomination (at least). For every one of his roles, Lewis has experimented by being as in character as possible. For My Left Foot , he spent copious amounts of time in a wheelchair while demanding to be spoon-fed. On the set of Gangs of New York , he refused to wear an insulated coat because Bill the Butcher wouldn’t have worn one (he ultimately caught pneumonia). Lewis didn’t bath for the entirety of The Crucible , only ate food he could catch and cook himself for Last of the Mohicans , and spent nights in solitary confinement while shooting In the Name of the Father .
Halle Berry made her acting debut playing a crack-cocaine addict in 1991’s Jungle Fever . No, she didn’t do crack; instead, she remained unwashed throughout the production of the film (eight weeks). This seems to be a trend among thespians.
Steve Carrell famously got his chest waxed for The 40-Year-Old Virgin whilst yelling, "Kelly Clarkson!" He thought it would be funny and it was; however, this thespian nearly lost a nipple in the process. The woman production hired lied and said that she had waxed a man's chest before; therefore, she was unaware that you're supposed to apply Vaseline to nipple before ripping off the strip. Thankfully, Judd Apatow noticed this and yelled "Cut!" before Carrell lost one of his most useless accessories.
Anyone familiar with the work of David Fincher knows that he doesn’t mess around. For his 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo , he expected next-level commitment from the actress playing Lisabeth Salander. Rooney Mara delivered just that. She learned how to ride a motorcycle, cut her hair, bleached her eyebrows, and donned an array of punk-rock piercings. Mara lost weight and took up smoking (not the herbal kind) because she wanted to fit Salander’s description as accurately as possible.
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro actually studied under Method acting founding father Lee Strasberg (who taught him Stanislavski’s Method). It should come as no surprise that De Niro dives deep into his role (especially back in the day). De Niro prepared for 1976's Taxi Driver by working 12-hour shifts as a cab drive (sometimes picking up passengers in-between shooting) and for 1980's Raging Bull , De Niro bulked up, fought in three actual fights, and then gained 50 pounds of fat to play Jake LaMotta during his less-than-presentable years.
Everyone knows Tom Cruise does his own stunts. His role as Ethan Hunt in the
Mission:Impossible franchise has cemented his legacy as the Method-acting stunt actor. Notable stunts including leaping between Shanghai skyscrapers in Mission: Impossible III, climbing the Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, halo jumping in Mission Impossible: Fallout, and hanging onto the side of a plane while it took off in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (in which he also held his breath underwater for six minutes).