x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Is there method in their madness?

Billy Bob Thornton has said method acting is pretentious, but advocates of The Method, such as Daniel Day Lewis and Robert de Niro, certainly do well from the technique.

Robert De Niro is an advocate of method acting.
Robert De Niro is an advocate of method acting.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Robert De Niro: take cover. The outspoken actor Billy Bob Thornton has rubbished the notion of method acting in a recent interview with Total Film magazine.

He claims that actors who insist on method acting - the method being the Stanislavski-inspired technique in which thespians keep in character off screen in an effort to fully "become" the role - are using it as an excuse to seem clever. Thornton added that people were either good at acting or not.

We assume he counts himself among the former, though the plaudits that many method actors have received do seem to undermine his views.

Take Day-Lewis, for example: one of the best-known (and most critically successful) actors of the past few decades. For his Oscar-nominated role in Gangs of New York, the actor supposedly worked as a butcher's assistant, made fellow actors call him by his character's name at all times and continued to speak in his adopted New York accent even while off-set. He injured two ribs while filming My Left Foot, after remaining hunched in his wheelchair for weeks on set, and he refused treatment for pneumonia on Gangs of New York because such medical treatment would have been unavailable at the time the film was set.

Other followers of The Method include Marlon Brando, De Niro - who put on 60lb for Raging Bull, worked as a cabbie for Taxi Driver and learned to play the saxophone for New York, New York - and, more recently, Christian Bale, who lost five stone for The Machinist. Still, we're sure Bad Santa was a very tough role as well.