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'''Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl):''' What a dick!
 
'''Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl):''' What a dick!
   
'''NC:''' The funny thing is, to other actors who would play the Joker got Academy Awards, and they used method acting. ''(pauses awkwardly again)'' But they were using it for themselves.
+
'''NC:''' The funny thing is, two other actors who would play the Joker got Academy Awards, and they used method acting. ''(pauses awkwardly again)'' But they were using it for themselves.
   
 
''(Footage of the Joker in other movies is shown, starting with Heath Ledger in ''[[The Dark Knight]]'')''
 
''(Footage of the Joker in other movies is shown, starting with Heath Ledger in ''[[The Dark Knight]]'')''

Revision as of 01:05, 21 April 2020

Should We Stop Method Acting?

Stop method acting nc.jpg

Release Date
February 26, 2020
Running Time
23:36
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(The Channel Awesome logo and NC title sequence play)

NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. They're easy to admire and easy to make fun of. Let's talk about method actors. (nods)

(A shot of a man holding up a mask is shown)

NC (vo): One of two scenarios usually pops in a person's head when method acting is heard...

(Cut to a shot of the movie There Will Be Blood with Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview)

NC (vo): A groundbreaking genius who artfully sacrificed so much for their art...

(Cut to a clip of Tropic Thunder, showing Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) and Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey, Jr.) arguing with each other)

NC (vo): ...or a pretentious narcissist trying to get even more attention due to their insecurities.

Lazarus: I'm a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude!

Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel): What?

(A montage of news articles on method actors is shown)

NC (vo): There's so many articles and videos about actors who have lost themselves in the performance and did crazy things torturing themselves and even others to get the best performance possible.

NC: (crosses arms) And I'm here to ask, is it really goddamn worth it?

(Cut to a clip of the movie Kramer vs. Kramer where Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) sits at a table and points at Joanna (Meryl Streep) sitting opposite him)

NC (vo): Let's back up and clarify exactly what method acting is.

(More movie clips are shown: Taxi Driver, where Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) dramatically pulls a gun on someone, and My Left Foot, where Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis) plays a rough sports game with others)

NC (vo): It's said to be a technique of acting, in which an actor aspires to complete, emotional identification with a part. That is to say, in order to get the most authentic performance, an actor will take part in psychological and/or physical exercises to be more convincing.

NC: It doesn't sound too bad, but Hollywood has a unique way of going batshit insane.

(Another clip is shown of Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, where Jim Carrey is presumably getting a haircut)

NC (vo): So often we hear of actors making everybody's life a living hell just for a role...

(Cut to a clip of Suicide Squad, showing Jared Leto as the Joker, and another of one of the documentaries for Apocalypse Now with Marlon Brando)

NC (vo): ...whether it's having everybody address them by their character name, being emotionally abusive to costars, or stopping the production because it's what their (mockingly) "character would do".

NC: And let's be honest, it's usually allowed because the method actor is a big star.

(More footage of method acting in movies is shown, such as Jim Carrey in a making-of featurette of Man on the Moon, Marlon Brando in The Godfather, Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer, and Jared Leto in Suicide Squad)

NC (vo): If a newcomer tried half the things that Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman or Jared Leto tried, they'd be fired on day one. But because these were big celebrities with big draws, they were seemingly allowed to do whatever they wanted on set, no matter how much it interfered with the production.

NC: These made for great stories and great clickbait, but it doesn't make for great acting.

(Cut to another clip of Day-Lewis, this one of him as Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York)

NC (vo): Well, maybe the first question to be answered is, why would anyone method act to begin with?

(Another clip of a movie called I Am Sam)

NC (vo): It would seem like such an obvious ploy for actors to get attention...

(Cut to another clip of Jim Carrey's haircut in Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond)

NC (vo): ...and it just seems to slow things down and stress out an already stressed-out crew.

NC: Well, (the articles on method actors is shown in the corner again) for these over-the-top stories, sure, but there are several times that actors have used method acting techniques that seem perfectly reasonable.

(Cut to a clip of an episode of The Simpsons)

NC (vo): Remember in The Simpsons when Marge was going to play Blanche in a musical version of Streetcar Named Desire?

Marge: (handing Homer a salt shaker at the dinner, speaking in southern accent) Here you are, Homer.

Homer: (taking the shaker) Why are you talking like that?

Marge: The play's tomorrow night. I've got to stay in character.

NC (vo): This is technically a form of method acting, but nobody sees her as crazy for it. She's doing it so she can get the accent down, as it's a voice she's not used to having, and it might be distracting if her usual accent shines through. It makes sense, and it sucks the people around her into it as well.

Lisa: (speaking in southern accent) Hey, Mom, would it help if I talked like this, too?

Marge: (in accent) It might.

NC: On the set of The Iron Lady, Meryl Streep announced...

(Cut to shots of Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady)

NC (vo): ...as Margaret Thatcher, that she was going to continue to do her British accent off-set, because if she didn't she'd lose the voice and she's not skilled enough to turn it off and on so easily. The crew laughed and understood. If anything, she was making it clear she wasn't going to be the headache that many other method actors could be.

NC: Comedy, surprisingly, is a treasure trove of physical method acting.

(Footage of Fawlty Towers is shown)

NC (vo): John Cleese on Fawlty Towers would talk about how the audience wouldn't give as big a laugh if the violence didn't look painful and admitted that he and some of the other actors suffered some scrapes and bruises, even though they technically could have just done it lighter.

(Now cut to a montage of clips of films featuring the Three Stooges and the physical violence they are known for)

NC (vo): The Three Stooges had to be sent to the hospital several times so that the pain in the scene looked the most convincing and got the biggest laugh.

NC: But more often than not, it's less for laughs and more for authenticity.

(Cut to footage of Saving Private Ryan)

NC (vo): Surely the actors in Saving Private Ryan could have just been told how to carry guns, salute and so forth. But they all went to boot camp because they knew many people would be able to tell if something was off. It's not like a space movie, where only a handful have been astronauts; there's a lot of people who have served in the military, and plenty more related to them. So, in a film like this, trying to be as realistic as possible, it makes sense to have all the movements, commands and lingo embedded into your memory.

NC: Even crying, for a lot of people, is a form of method acting.

(A montage of movie clips involving characters shedding tears is shown)

NC (vo): Yeah, you can do eye drops, but most of us can tell when fake tears are being produced and when real tears are being produced. Some people can turn it off and on like a faucet, but others understandably have to think of something that left an emotional impact on them to produce the tears. Trying to manipulate your emotions for a role, many say, is at the heart of method acting, and that's precisely what this is, so again, it's not really met with any disapproving thoughts.

NC: A lot of times, method acting seems to work best when it's done for practical reasons.

(A clip of Taxi Driver is shown, showing Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle)

NC (vo): Robert DeNiro is one of the most famous method actors, turning in great performances while mostly keeping to himself, yet staying in character as well.

(Now cut to footage of Brazil, emphasizing Harry Tuttle, DeNiro's character in that movie)

NC (vo): One of the smaller, but still interesting instances is on the movie, Brazil, when he had to be an illegal heating engineer. It's a long story. He would stay in costume and carry around his tools wherever he went, even if the camera wasn't on.

(Cut to a shot of the movie's director, Terry Gilliam)

NC (vo): At first, director Terry Gilliam didn't understand.

(Cut back to Tuttle in Brazil)

NC (vo): But then he tried on the outfit and discovered how the many layers made it incredibly difficult to move smoothly in. He then realized, since DeNiro's character was supposed to be sneaky and fast, it made sense to become comfortable with the suit and tools. And look at him! He moves comfortably like he's been doing it for years. You never assume any of that was a pain to work with.

(Cut to footage of Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) in Boys Don't Cry)

NC (vo): Hilary Swank in her breakout role, Boys Don't Cry, knew she had to be convincing as a boy, as the people in the movie were supposed to believe she was one. So she spent a month walking around in public pretending to be male, and when someone didn't believe it, she would take notes and try to figure out what to fix. She did it so well...

(Cut to a shot of Chris Kattan as Swank on a Celebrity Jeopardy sketch on Saturday Night Live, accompanied by the message "I'M A GIRL, YOU KNOW")

NC (vo): ...that when people would play her on TV, it was usually a guy in the role.

NC: A strange compliment, to say the least. (nods)

(Now we have footage of movies featuring Daniel Day-Lewis)

NC (vo): And of course, arguably the most famous currently working is Daniel Day-Lewis. In terms of modern-day method acting, this is usually the guy people point to as the crowning achievement, getting tons of praise as seemingly a completely different person every time he's on screen. None of these characters seem to have anything in common.

NC: You know, apart from...screaming.

(As the montage continues, we have Day-Lewis' characters screaming their lines)

John Proctor (in The Crucible): GOD IS DEAD!

Henderson Dores (in Stars and Bars): IT'S BURNED!

Dr. Fergus O'Connell (in Eversmile, New Jersey): LEAVE THE GIRL ALONE!

Daniel Plainview (in There Will Be Blood): I'VE ABANDONED MY CHILD!

NC: (nodding) Lots of screaming.

Dr. Fergus O'Connell: NO MORE DECAY!

John Proctor: BECAUSE IT IS MY NAME!

(As the montage, we treated to just rapid-fire shots of Day-Lewis' characters screaming)

NC: Hence, the nickname...

(A shot of a YouTube video showing clips of Day-Lewis' screaming is shown, along with the title, which NC reads...)

NC (vo): ..."Dan 'Yell' Day-Lewis".

(We are treated to one more clip of Day-Lewis' character, Guido Contini in Nine, screaming in anguish)

NC (vo): With performances this big and...yelly, it'd be easy to throw him in the same camp of people method acting just for attention.

NC: (crosses arms) But the more I looked into this guy, the more his reasons did mostly make sense.

(Footage of Day-Lewis' performance in My Left Foot is shown)

NC (vo): In My Left Foot, he stayed in a wheelchair and had people carry him around. That sounds douchey, but because he could walk fine and didn't know how a person with cerebral palsy would move or act, it does kind of add up why he would do this for a performance. He isn't just paralyzed for a few scenes, it's the entire movie, and it's based on a real guy. So it makes sense to represent a drastically different way of living and moving that you're not familiar with as best as possible.

(Cut to alternating snippets of Day-Lewis' performances in both The Crucible and Last of the Mohicans)

NC (vo): In films like The Crucible and Last of the Mohicans, he tried living months like his characters would in that time period, which does seem like a little much, but it appears he's doing it on his own and it's to be as authentic as possible. The way he moves and acts feels like a guy who lives in that time period.

(Cut to yet another Day-Lewis' performance, this one as the title character in Lincoln)

NC (vo): Even in Lincoln, I always thought it was lame that he told everyone to address him as "Mr. President". But Lincoln was supposed to be a humble person, and getting used to that authority and how to react to it, I can sort of understand.

NC: (crosses arms) But what I find the most interesting about him is when he was asked why he does method acting.

NC (vo): His answer was, what would drain me much more, in my case, is jumping in and out of character.

NC: I weirdly respect that because honestly, he's kind of admitting that he's doing it because it's easier.

NC (vo): If he was doing it for the attention, he would say how hard and difficult it is, but he says the other way just takes a lot more out of him. There are some actors that can go in and out of character in a millisecond, he's just not one of them, and clearly wants to give the best performance he can. It's odd, but there is a level of relatability I think a lot of people can sympathize with.

NC: (waves dismissively) But, ah to the ethical people! What about the assholes?

(A clip of Suicide Squad is shown, displaying Jared Leto as the Joker)

NC (vo): The ones we absolutely love to mock and satirize?

NC: We'll talk about them right after I get into character. (starts massaging his temples; whispering) You're a dick. You're a dick. You're a dick.

(On that note, we go to a commercial break. Upon return...)

NC: So now it's that part of the video that, let's be honest, (nods and smiles) is the reason you clicked on it: the douchebag method actors!

(Footage of Marlon Brando is shown)

NC (vo): These, in my opinion, are when actors seem to be method acting more for attention than practicality. Notably, the most infamous in that he was the most famous star in the world and, for the most part, turned in some damn great performances was Marlon Brando.

(Footage of Brando's role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather)

NC (vo): In The Godfather, he believed in the spontaneity of the performance, so he would have his lines hidden onset so that he could read them, sometimes even on people's faces.

(Cut to Brando's role as Max in The Score)

NC (vo): On the set of The Score, director (Image of...) Frank Oz reminded Brando too much of Miss Piggy, one of the characters he played, which threw off his performance. So, throughout the entire film, Oz had to give him direction from another room, not even able to look at him face to face.

(Cut to a third movie with Brando, Apocalypse Now, where he plays Colonel Kurtz)

NC (vo): In Apocalypse Now, he put on a ton of weight, which the character was not described as being heavy, improvised most of his lines, and would just walk off when he felt his character was done, even there was an entire crew ready to shoot more.

Brando: (walking off) I can't think of any more dialogue today.

NC (vo): People are still split whether this is a masterpiece or a failed experiment, and a lot of that is on Brando, who was built up for two-thirds of the film. Some say he delivered; others say...

NC: (whispering) ..."The horror!"

NC (vo): But to Brando's credit, he has turned in groundbreaking performances that arguably changed the art of movie acting.

NC: Others, though...

(Cut to a clip of Suicide Squad, showing Jared Leto as the Joker)

Joker: You helped me by erasing my mind.

NC (vo): Yeah, Jared Leto is quickly going down as one of the worst Jokers ever filmed, and you can't deny part of that is from the stories about his behavior on set. Not only did he stay in character, verbally abusing his costars, but he also mailed dead rats and even used condoms to them, because... (pauses awkwardly) art.

(Cut to a clip Batman)

Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl): What a dick!

NC: The funny thing is, two other actors who would play the Joker got Academy Awards, and they used method acting. (pauses awkwardly again) But they were using it for themselves.

(Footage of the Joker in other movies is shown, starting with Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight)

NC (vo): They weren't bringing others into their homework, they were doing it on their own, like they should have been. Heath Ledger said he locked himself in a room and tried to figure out the right voice, knowing his performance had to be different from the others and match the even darker tone of an already dark character. The result was a terrifying performance nobody thought could be topped.

(Next, we cut to another Joker character, this one as played by Joaquin Phoenix)

NC (vo): That is, until Joaquin Phoenix, who, while difficult at interviews...

(A clip of one such interview for the Associated Press with Phoenix is shown, where he is asked about his performance voicing Kenai in Brother Bear)

Interviewer: Such a heartwarmer. I cried three times.

Phoenix: I don't believe you've ever cried in your life.

Interviewer: What did you learn about yourself and your voice?

Phoenix: Absolutely nothing.

Interviewer: What do you hope that people will glean from it when they walk out of the cinema?

Phoenix: We're done.

(Suddenly, the title Brother Bear is displayed)

NC (vo; announcer voice): See Brother Bear!

(Cut back to Joker)

NC (vo): ...seemed keep his method acting on the page – literally. The director gave him the Joker's journal so he could write some crazy stuff in his handwriting for when he had to be shown writing in it, but still not having the character down, Phoenix kept writing and writing, practicing his laugh until something finally felt unique, matching the script, but also giving a different performance from the other Jokers that have been done before.

(Comparisons between Phoenix's and Ledger's Jokers are shown, before delving in Jared Leto's Joker)

NC (vo): Again, while odd, both his [Phoenix's] and Ledger's approaches seem to make sense in creating a character and bringing it to the big screen. Leto's seemed like he just wanted people to say, "Wow, you became an asshole for a role! How brave." He thrusted his method on everyone else seemingly for no reason, as the role wasn't even that good.

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