10 Most Unusual Skills Actors Have Learned To Portray Their Characters

Talent can help you a lot in acting, but it can only do so much. More often than not, actors have to deal with challenging roles that require them to have special skills to make their characters believable. Some of these unusual skills actors have learned just sound completely bonkers to us, and most of them are pretty impractical. But we gotta admit that they are also pretty cool.
So let's see what crazy skills these actors had to learn and how they nailed them. Which one sounds the most unusual to you? Do you think it’s necessary for them to learn these skills or they can just use special effects and stunt doubles?

1. Dave Franco Learned Card Throwing - Now You See Me

unusual skills actors have learned Source: Summit Entertainment/ Courtesy of Everett Collection

The card scenes in Now You See Me are just amazing to watch, but the fight scene with Dave Franco throwing his cards as weapons is the best. He actually learned card throwing to best play his character.
Franco practiced with master magician David Kwong and worked tirelessly learning to throw cards, aiming at various targets, or trying to cut a banana in half or pop a balloon. In the end, he got so good that he actually knocked a few of the crew and cast members, including Mark Ruffalo.

2. Jennifer Lawrence Learned How To Skin Squirrels - Winter’s Bone

unusual skills actors have learned Source: Roadside Attractions/ Courtesy of Everett Collection

Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone is Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout role. In order to play the master of survival in the wild, Lawrence learned several things like how to chop wood, fight, and skin a squirrel. She learned the proper way to skin a squirrel from her brother’s friend. The actress confessed that she went into the house and cried after learning it because she felt so bad.

3. Jim Carrey Trained By CIA To Endure Torture - The Grinch

unusual skills actors have learned Source: Universal Pictures/ Courtesy of Everett Collection

How can a lighthearted Christmas movie have anything to do with the CIA and torture? Well, apparently the makeup process was hell for Jim Carrey who played the iconic Grinch in the movie. It took eight-and-a-half hours to complete and Carrey felt like he was being buried alive under all that makeup. He almost quit as he just couldn’t sit through it on a regular basis.
Producer Brian Grazer solved the problem by bringing a CIA specialist to train Carrey on how to endure torture. The CIA specialist holed up with the actor for a weekend, teaching him techniques to create mindsets to work through the discomfort. This gave the actor the strength he needed.

4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt Learned Tighrope Walking - The Walk

Source: Sony Pictures Releasing/ Courtesy of Everett Collection

The Walk was a biographical drama that told the story of French daredevil Philippe Petit. He was the one who dared to attempt and succeed in high-wire walking between the Twin Towers in 1974. Gordon-Levitt, who portrayed Philippe in the movie, trained with the man himself.
Philippe set up a workshop and they started with a line on the ground, then a slightly raised bar, then added a tightrope of increasing heights. Eventually, Gordon-Levitt was doing tightrope walks by himself six to eight feet off the ground. The actor described Petit as "such a positive thinker," and that working with him really helped because "when someone believes you can do something, then you yourself believe you can do it."

5. Bryan Cranston Learned How To Cook Meth - Breaking Bad

unusual skills actors have learned Source: AMC/ Courtesy of Everett Collection

Bryan Cranston nailed the notorious kingpin in Breaking Bad, Walter White. To commit to his role, Bryan decided to learn how to make meth. Don’t worry, it’s 100% legal. Bryan never made any crystal meth by himself, but he did receive detailed instructions from DEA chemists. "We were told exactly the process at that high level," he said. The actor also shared that the process was "very interesting, intricate, and dangerous."

6. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy Learned Indigenous Dialect - The Revenant

Source: 20th Century Fox/ Courtesy of Everett Collection

The Revenant was set against the harsh North and South Dakota outback in the early 1800s so it wasn’t a surprise that the movie had many references to Native American tribes. To make their roles as realistic as possible, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and the rest of the cast worked with an indigenous cultural consultant to master the esoteric tongue.

7. Margot Robbie Learned How To Hold Her Breath For Five Minutes - Suicide Squad

Source: Warner Bros./ Courtesy of Everett Collection

Keep in mind that most of us can’t even hold our breath underwater for more than one minute, let alone five. Yet Margot Robbie was able to hold her breath for five full minutes for her role as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad.
"It's all about lowering your metabolic rate," Robbie explained to Jimmy Fallon. "You kinda, like, meditate underwater. It's what free divers do, but it's amazing."

8. Tom Cruise Learned To Fly A Helicopter - Mission Impossible: Fallout

Source: Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy of Everett Collection

We all know that Tom Cruise does many crazy stunts by himself for the Mission Impossible franchise, but he takes it to the extreme in Mission Impossible: Fallout. To perfectly portray the helicopter in the movie, he spent over 2,000 hours of training to become a certified helicopter pilot.
Not only did he learn the challenging skill in a short amount of time, but he was also able to perform a "corkscrew dive" - one of the most dangerous maneuvers in all of helicopter flying.

9. Michelle Pfeiffer Mastered The Whip-Cracking Skills - Batman Returns

Source: Warner Bros./ Courtesy of Everett Collection

Michelle Pfeiffer's whip-cracking scenes are just second iconic behind Indiana Jones himself. She did all of her own stunts with the whip and mastered it. One example of how great she was with the ship was the scene in the film where Catwoman threw her whip around Christopher Walken's neck and pulled him in. This scene was real with no insert shots or cutaways required.

10. Ryan Gosling Learned Furniture Building - The Notebook

Source: New Line Cinema/ Courtesy of Everett Collection

Unlike most of the skills on this list, Ryan Gosling’s skill is quite practical. His character Noah Calhoun in The Notebook is a craftsman and woodworker. To bring Noah to life, Ryan trained with a cabinetmaker. His pieces came out looking so fine that they could be sold like any other furniture. He even built some of the furniture in the movie!
Looking at these unusual skills actors have learned really makes us feel their dedication to their roles. However, they are not the only ones. There are some actors that are fully committed to their characters to the point that they completely change themselves. Check out these 10 actors who suffered after their miserable “makeovers” for their iconic roles.
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