Acting is about giving oneself completely over to a part that one is playing. The preparation for a role might take anywhere from a few weeks to many months or even years. When an actor puts in a lot of work developing a character, the audience experiences greater emotion due to the performer’s genuine portrayal of the part.
However, when actors immerse themselves in their characters, they go through a process that leaves them permanently changed. A few examples of before-and-after storylines include actors who have taken on exceptionally challenging roles in their careers.
1. Geena Davis In Thelma and Louise
Source: Thelma and Louise
Actress Geena Davis’s life changed for the better because of her performance in Thelma and Louise. Thus, her story deserves to be told. Upon the film’s release, many female audiences were pleasantly surprised. The experience was so formative for her that she decided to devote her life to assisting the empowerment of other women by founding the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which promotes equal representation of women in the arts.
2. Bill Skarsgård In It
Bill Skarsgard’s portrayal of a character didn’t appear to want to end. He would travel to sinister locales to get into character before performances. However, when it was time to say goodbye to the persona, he admitted that the scary clown had been a recurring nightmare for quite some time.
3. Jackie Chan In Operation Condor
Source: Operation Condor
Jackie Chan is one of the few actors who can pull off action scenes without the use of a stunt double or triple. He was seriously hurt while filming for Operation Condor and had to have brain surgery. The surgeons implanted a metal plate in his skull, and he still feels the impact.
4. Johnny Depp In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Source: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Johnny Depp has earned a reputation as a versatile actor who can slip into virtually any part. For months, he lived in a basement and had very little sleep to get into character for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. When Johnny stopped playing the role, he found that the distinctive characteristics he had developed for the part had become so ingrained in him that he needed to “detox” from them.
5. Adrien Brody In The Pianist
Source: The Pianist
Adrien Brody, in order to fully immerse himself in the role, made the conscious decision to sacrifice all for his character. He handed up all of his possessions, including his vehicle, apartment, and phone. To get into character, he starved himself to feel the hopelessness that comes with malnutrition. When he was done with the part, he said he felt like he was about to go crazy. Adrien struggled for some time before he could return to his regular routine.
6. Shelley Duvall In The Shining
Source: The Shining
A standout performance as Wendy Torrance came from Shelley Duvall. The actress’s genuine terror gives the audience a sense of immersion in the character’s plight. The trauma she suffered as a result of the gunfire will never fully go away. To prevent the rest of the cast and crew from feeling sorry for her, director Stanley Kubrick isolated her and had her reenact the same scenario 127 times. The lasting impact of that tumultuous encounter was such that her neighbors still recall seeing her move about differently than before the movie ended.
7. Anne Hathaway In Les Miserables
Source: Getty Images
It’s never easy for actors to transform their bodies for a job that requires them to gain or lose weight. Indeed, especially when exaggerated. Anne Hathaway shed 25 pounds to fit into her costume for the role of Fantine in Les Misérables.
She became so absorbed in the job that she started to suffer from physical and mental exhaustion. She had a tough time adjusting to life in the real world at the moment. Anne said that she needed a few weeks to feel “normal” again after filming.
8. Heath Ledger In The Dark Knight
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Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker is widely regarded as one of the finest ever. The actor said it was “physically and mentally exhausting” to perform the role. The late actor reported that he struggled to sleep after production wrapped, with some nights consisting of only two hours of sleep.