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Inside the Mind of a Method Actor

How do they become someone else?

Jared Leto as the Joker in Suicide Squad, An example of a strong method actor.

Inside the Mind of a Method Actor

What makes a movie memorable? The set design, the music, the sound effects; all three of these are integral, of course. However, the main ingredient to a stunning performance is those who truly bring it to life: the actors. Without the actors, who will tell the story of this world you have built? How could we convey a story of tragedy without that last, genuine tear from an actor’s face? Who would we relate to in a story without characters to sympathize with?

An Example of Method Acting

The definition of method acting is: a technique in which an actor aspires to convey completely genuine emotional and expressive performances. An example of this dedication, and a personal favorite of mine, Leonardo Dicaprio’s method acting for the movie The Revenant. Dicaprio went above and beyond to place his consciousness in the mind of his character, a frontiersman in the business of fur trading, Hugh Glass. The actor slept in the carcass of a dead bison for warmth as the harsh Canadian winds swept around him. The unforgiving cold seeped into his body, but he persevered in the name of an oscar-winning performance. He even trudged through actual bodies of nearly frozen water and ate raw meat.

What makes method acting amazing?

Dedication. Absolute, unbridled dedication. When a person is so intent on making a scene memorable, real, and truly trying to reach your heartstrings through the screen with a mere expression or tone of voice; what is there not to admire? Actors will bleed, fight, and starve to become their character. Others will pursue conversation with the people who lived their roles when they are portraying a character of real historical significance. For example, an actor playing a blind character may converse with real, blind people to get their perspective on the world. They may blindfold themselves and explore the world without this sense in order to truly tune in on what it is like to be blind. In the end, this will morph their mind, almost creating a "pocket existence" in which they can pull these experiences from memory and apply them to the stage. These traits, unique to the people who have the drive to become what they are not, are absolutely fascinating.

As an actor, how could I adopt method acting?

To adopt the mindset of a method actor is easier said than done. Most are born with the instinct to act methodically. Method acting involves pulling your own memories and experiences from your past (similar to the Stanislavski acting method due to it being based within Stanislavski’s curriculum.) The difference between the two methods is that Stanislavski’s method involves particularly pulling your own experiences to better relate to a character to create realism for the audience. In relation, Method acting is using personal experiences and emotions to create a more realistic experience for both the actor and the audience. Although it is not impossible to adopt method acting if it is not your natural acting style, you must have the experience that can relate to your character that you may draw upon. If you have never fought in a war, how could you convey the true fear and tension of a veteran with PTSD? If you have never before heard the silence of a deaf individual, how could you ignore the stimuli of sound?

In Conclusion

Method acting is a mysterious peek into the psyche of an actor who is truly being this character. The mind of a method actor must be an enigma, willing to conform and shape into any one existence that they are assigned to be. It is a wonderful escape from your own world, so that you may become whomever you put your mind into being. That is the most beautiful form of acting: to truly be.