In Hollywood, every behind-the-scenes is different. Some actors went all out for their roles, even touching their extreme limits. On the other hand, some didn’t even try and only did the absolute bare minimum. Read on to find out if your favorite actor was a try-hard superstar or not.
1. Overprepared – Lady Gaga, House of Gucci
Source: ©MGM/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION
Lady Gaga’s most recent role as Patrizia Reggiani in House of Gucci is phenomenal. She stayed in character for one and a half years, even when she wasn’t filmed. The famous singer and actress even practiced her accent for whole nine months. She even watched countless clips of panthers and foxes to channel their vibes into her role.
“I started to take photographs as well,” she told British Vogue. “I noticed that Patrizia loved beautiful things. If something wasn’t beautiful, I deleted it.”
2. Underprepared – Michael Gambon, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
Source: Warner Bros.
It might come as a surprise to many people, but the actor who played Dumbledore in the third Harry Potter film, Michael Gambon, didn’t even read a single page of J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels before shooting the movie. He explained that he was simply “playing with [screenwriter] Steve Kloves’ words” and he had complete trust in the script.
3. Overprepared – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Source: 20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection
Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar thanks to his amazing performance in The Revenant, and we all gotta admit it was a well-earned prize. To prepare for his role, the actor had to go to extremes, trying things like sleeping inside animal carcasses, camping out in the wilderness, going for swims in frozen rivers, and eating raw bison.
“I can name 30 or 40 sequences that were some of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do,” he told Yahoo Movies. “Whether it’s going in and out of frozen rivers, sleeping in animal carcasses, or what I ate on set. [I was] enduring freezing cold and possible hypothermia constantly.”
4. Underprepared – Christopher Plummer, All the Money In The World
Source: Moviestore via Shutterstock
In contrast to Leonardo DiCaprio, Christopher Plummer got nominated for the Oscar thanks to his role in All the Money In The World, in which he only had nine days to film his entire role. He knew nothing about the Getty family or the character before the film, but somehow still nailed it. “I really followed the script and Ridley’s suggestions, which weren’t many because there wasn’t much time,” he later recalled.
This wasn’t his fault though. The actor had barely any time to prepare for his role as he was suddenly called to replace Kevin Spacey in the role after Spacey was accused of sexual assault. But thanks to his superb acting skills, Christopher Plummer gave us a memorable performance.
5. Overprepared – Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection
We can all agree that Natalie Portman stole the show as Nina Sayers in the 2010 Drama/Thriller film Black Swan. She even won an Oscar for her role, which was a well-earned prize. Portman took her role as a ballerina very seriously. She rigorously trained for over a year to portray a ballerina in Black Swan.
For the first six months, she built up her strength with a few hours a day, then increased her practice time to five hours a day, and later eight. She would spend 30 minutes a day just doing foot exercises. The actress trained until her toenails fell off, and she even dislocated a rib during a lift. During an interview, Portman recalled, “There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die. It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of taking you down.”
6. Underprepared – Michael J. Fox, Back To The Future
Source: Universal Pictures
Surprisingly, Michael J. Fox wasn’t the first choice for the lead in the cult classic Back To The Future. The role of Marty McFly was supposed to be Eric Stolz. The decision to change to Michael J. Fox was a great choice nonetheless. The young actor at the time came onto the set only a few weeks into filming, took over the highly praised role, and turned the film into a legend with his performance.
7. Overprepared – Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Source: Everett Collection
To pull off her role in I, Tonya, Margot Robbie spent six months studying the infamous skater’s life and backstory. “I watched for about six months every single thing, every bit of skating, every bit of interview, every documentary, I played it on my iPod at night. … I had her face, like, painted on the inside of my eyelids, and her voice just constantly in my head,” she shared in an interview.
The actress even took a step further and trained in skating for five months. Her hard work paid off. Much of the skating in the film, which was based on Harding’s actual routines, was really Robbie skating.
8. Underprepared – Jackie Chan, Rush Hour
Source: Getty Images
To say Jackie Chan was underprepared for his role in Rush Hour is a bit of a stretch, but he did struggle a lot with his English back then. When he first arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s, he was reportedly unable to speak even basic English. He taught himself by absorbing Western media.
This led to the actor having trouble with the scripts of the Rush Hour series. Chan had to learn many lines phonetically.
9. Overprepared – Christopher Lee, The Lord of the Rings
Source: New Line Cinema
It’s hard to beat the dedication that Christopher Lee put into his role as Saruman. He was a hardcore Lord of the Rings fan who reread the books annually, and the only actor in the series to have actually met Tolkien.
Lee shared that he had always wanted to star in the film. He even went as far as taking wizard-acting roles to prove he would be a good pick. In addition, he sent photos of himself dressed as a wizard to Peter Jackson.
10. Underprepared – Viggo Mortensen, The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
On the other hand, we got Viggo Mortensen who was only cast days after filming had already begun. The actor revealed to Yahoo Entertainment that he felt unprepared. “The other actors had been there for weeks and months in some cases preparing for the arduous task of shooting the whole trilogy,” he added. As soon as Mortensen landed in New Zealand. he started to learn sword fight.
11. Overprepared – Richard Gere, Time Out of Mind
There is no doubt that Richard Gere is one of the most well-known Hollywood actors. The reason behind his success is his preparation before taking a role. In the 2014 film Time Out of Mind, he plays a homeless man living on the streets of NYC.
To understand his character, Gere worked with the Coalition for Homeless, spoke with homeless people, and learned about their experiences and difficulties living on the streets. He didn’t wear a wig, beard, or sunglasses during the filming. The actor just showed up as himself in the center of Grand Central Station, but only two people recognized him. No wonder why his performance was so amazing.
12. Underprepared – Benedict Cumberbatch, Penguin Documentary
Source: Getty Images
Benedict Cumberbatch has played a lot of characters, from a Sorcerer Supreme to a giant CGI dragon, but nothing terrifies him more than voice-acting in a penguin documentary. Cumberbatch’s flaw was that he can not say the word penguin correctly, he pronounced it as “peng-wing” instead.
The actor actually wasn’t aware of this. This led to him struggling to pronounce the word almost every single time in the BBC documentary South Pacific. Cumberbatch admitted that he had no idea he couldn’t pronounce the word on the Graham Norton Show.
13. Overprepared – Tom Cruise, Interview with the Vampire
Source: Warner Bros
Almost everybody knows that novelist Anne Rice was unhappy with Lestat casting choice. She just didn’t want Tom Cruise to play the character in the film adaptation of her novel Interview with the Vampire. Cruise was hurt by this criticism, but instead of giving up, he tried his best to prove her wrong.
The actor not only carefully read the book, but he also read all of Rice’s books. Aside from that, he learnt piano, lost weight, and traveled to Paris to try out a hedonistic lifestyle like Lestat’s. His efforts didn’t go to waste, as Rice herself later praised him for his performance, saying “I think Tom did a wonderful job, I really do.”
14. Underprepared – Hugh Jackman, X-Men
Source: Twentieth Century Fox
We all know how hard Hugh Jackman was training to take on the role of the famous Wolverine, but not a lot of us know that he wasn’t able to do so for the first X-Men film. It wasn’t his fault though, as the role was originally offered to Dougray Scott. The movies had already been filmed for weeks when he was cast. The actor had only three weeks to get in shape for the role, and he never even lifted a weight before!
15. Overprepared – Robert Pattinson, Good Time
Source: Elara Pictures
Robert Pattinson took method acting to the next level with his role in Good Time. He played as criminal Connie Nikas, and it wasn’t an easy job. According to Pattinson, “I never opened my curtains, didn’t change the sheets the entire time I was there, for those two months, and I would just sleep in my clothes.” The actor even lived in a basement in Harlem, the same one seen in Good Time.
16. Underprepared – James McAvoy, X-Men: First Class
Source: Twentieth Century Fox
McAvoy nailed the role of a young Professor X in X-Men: First Class. His version of the professor in this film was very charming and handsome, but little did we know, he was actually bald during that time!
James McAvoy naturally assumed that because he was going to be playing a younger version of the professor previously played by Patrick Stewart, he would be bald too. To save time, he took the initiative and shaved off all his hair before filming started. This caused the production official to have a minor meltdown when he turned up on the set. Luckily, the actor got a talented hairstylist friend, and his problem was fixed with some hair extensions and a wig.