There is no doubt that being an actor requires a great deal of dedication. However, some roles necessitate extra effort so that actors can not only interpret a character's personality but also show their skills.
The best performances commonly come at a high cost. We've all heard stories about actors losing insane amounts of weight for a role, or leaning into method acting exercises and living their daily lives as the character to bring the best performance to the audience. There are so many other special acting techniques used by Hollywood actors to prepare for major roles.
When an actor practices for a role in an unusual way, they often make great
sacrifices that result in critical acclaim. To improve their performance, the actors need to find out how to shed their own identity. This means that their preparation can be odd, and sometimes harmful to their mental and physical health.
We've put together a list of 11 actors and actresses who have taken their talent to new levels and had to learn incredible skills to play a role.
#1 Adrien Brody learned to play Chopin’s pieces on the piano for The Pianist.
Source: Invision/Invision/East News, © The Pianist / R.P. Productions and co-producers
Adrien Brody had to learn Chopin's passages on the piano for his leading role in The Pianist. Additionally, he not only lost 30 pounds but also left his car and apartment behind to better connect with his character. His impressive hard work was widely praised, and Brody won an Oscar for his performance in the film.
#2 Halle Berry went a really long time without showering to prepare for Jungle Fever.
Source: © Jungle Fever / Universal Pictures and co-producers
Halle Berry had to play a character dealing with many types of problems while preparing for her role in Jungle Fever, so she decided to try something new. "At that time, all I could really do was kind of try to be it, to be it, so I didn’t shower for the entire time that we shot that movie, so that was probably about 8 weeks. It was gnarly.”
#3 Joseph Gordon-Levitt learned tightrope walking for The Walk.
Source: NPA/The Grosby Group/EAST NEWS, © The Walk / Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and co-producers
Philippe Petit, the high-wire artist, taught the actor how to walk on a wire. When the practice began, Petit predicted that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be able to walk the tightrope on his own in 8 days, which proved to be true.
#4 Kate Winslet has been learning a lot for her next role in Avatar 2.
Source: AFP/EAST NEWS, © jonplandau / Instagram
Kate Winslet revealed that she had to learn free diving as well as hold her breath underwater for several minutes to play her character. “My longest breath hold was 7 minutes and 14 seconds, like crazy, crazy stuff,” she stated in an interview.
#5 Keanu Reeves learned how to surf for Point Break.
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Keanu Reeves went to Hawaii two months before filming to learn how to surf despite having no experience. He and other cast members trained with Dennis Jarvis, a former professional surfer who assisted them in mastering the lessons.
#6 Leonardo DiCaprio learned 2 ancient languages for The Revenant.
Source: PHOTOlink/Everett Collection/East News, © The Revenant / New Regency Productions and co-producers
Leonardo DiCaprio worked extremely hard for the most difficult performance of his acting career. Despite being a vegetarian, he has to eat a raw piece of bison liver for his role. Moreover, he also had to learn several new things, including ancient healing techniques, how to build a fire, and how to speak Pawnee and Arikara, two different Native American languages. Even though his preparation was extremely difficult, his exceptional dedication earned him an Oscar for the role in 2016.
#7 Margot Robbie learned how to skate for I, Tonya.
Source: LAURENT VU/SIPA/SIPA/East News, © I, Tonya / LuckyChap Entertainment and co-producers
Margot Robbie didn't have much skating experience before playing Tonya Harding, despite being a member of an ice hockey team. For her role, Robbie learned to skate alongside Sarah Kawahara, an acclaimed skating choreographer who assisted her in training for three months before filming. Their practice routine consisted of 4 times per week, and Robbie did an excellent job, as she was nominated for an Oscar and won several other awards for the role.
#8 Meryl Streep learned 2 different languages for Sophie’s Choice.
Source: Eric Catarina/Starface/STARFACE PHOTO /East News, © Sophie's Choice / Incorporated Television Company (ITC) and co-producers
Meryl Streep studied German and Polish to have the most authentic accent and best interpret her role as a Polish refugee. The former is said to have come from one of the film's assistants. She received an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role as a result of her hard work and dedication.
#9 Natalie Portman took ballet lessons for The Black Swan.
Source: AP/Associated Press/East News, © Black Swan / Fox Searchlight Pictures and co-producers
For her role in the film, Natalie Portman relied on her previous ballet training, which she received between the ages of 4 and 13. She resumed ballet lessons one year before the actual filming. She trained with renowned ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers, and her regimen included intense muscle toning, toe exercises, and a mile of daily swimming. Although the actress admitted to having dance doubles to assist her with the difficult scenes, her role propelled her to the top and earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2010.
#10 Rachel Weisz learned how to play the banjo for The Brothers Bloom.
Source: White Label/East News, © The Brothers Bloom / Endgame Entertainment and co-producers
Rachel Weisz had to learn many different things to master her role as Penelope, including skateboarding, rapping, karate, riding a unicycle, and playing piano, banjo, violin, accordion, and ping pong.
#11 Rooney Mara learned computer hacking for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Source: Invision/Invision/East News, © The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / Columbia Pictures and co-producers
Aside from getting some piercings, Rooney Mara had to learn several things to play her role in the film. Skateboarding, kickboxing, computer hacking, and motorcycle riding were among them. As a result, all of her efforts paid off handsomely, and she received several acting awards.
#12 Timothée Chalamet learned how to play classical piano passages for Call Me By Your Name.
Source: Invision/Invision/East News, © Call Me by Your Name / Frenesy Film Company and co-producers
Timothée Chalamet also learned to play the classical piano passages used in the film while filming. Because of his dedication, he was nominated for an Oscar and won several acting awards for his role.