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The benefits and challenges of working with method actors

Jared Leto attends the
Jared Leto attends the "Suicide Squad" World Premiere at The Beacon Theatre on August 1, 2016 in New York City.
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After the recent release of DC Comics’ latest superhero flick “Suicide Squad,” some unsettling stories surfaced about just how far one of its stars went to embody the character he was playing.

In addition to director David Ayer reportedly having his cast punch one another to get invested in their roles, Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto apparently went even farther in trying to get into character. Leto, who has been known to immerse himself deeply into character, sent the cast a dead pig during their first table read. On set, he apparently refused to go by his real name and insisted on being called “Mistah J,” the pet name that the character Harley Quinn calls The Joker.

Leto’s immersion in his character may be the latest instance, but it’s certainly not the first in which an actor has gone to great lengths to embody someone on screen.

Others like Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christian Bale, and Marlon Brando have also embodied characters they play by essentially becoming the character.

But when you go to lengths like Jared Leto did to become a character, at what point does method acting like that stop serving the film and become about serving the actor? How has method acting evolved in Hollywood, and is it the same now as it was originally taught? Who comes to mind when you think of method actors, and who are some of your favorites? Are there any you think went too far in trying to become a character?


Sasha Krane, actor, director, and an instructor at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, where he teaches method acting for the camera

David Strasberg, creative director and CEO of The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, where he teaches method acting