Natalie Portman, Heath Ledger… 10 completely crazy actor preparations for a movie role

To embody the character entrusted to them, some actors immerse themselves body and soul in their performance and sometimes push the preparation of a role very far. Always pushing their limits a little further, they hope to transcend themselves to offer viewers a striking authenticity, capable of making a difference on the big screen. Proof by ten!

Anne Hathaway for Wretched

© Universal Pictures

Chosen by Tom Hooper to lend her features to Fantine, in her adaptation of the work of Victor Hugo on the big screen, Anne Hathaway complied with a draconian diet to get into the skin of her character. Causette’s mother was starving and exhausted, forced to sell her hair and her body to support her daughter, the American actress wanted to look like someone on the verge of death. For this, she ate only two oatmeal pancakes a day for two weeks. The result was immediate with a loss of eleven kilos and a haggard look. Isolated in a kind of bubble created by lack, the actress then took time to return to a normal life.

Actor Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight

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© Warner Bros.

Famous for his incredible incarnation of the Joker in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger engaged in an extraordinary and particularly extreme preparation for the film by Christopher Nolan. Long before filming began, the Australian actor left to lock himself in a hotel room in which he remained alone for weeks. A way to connect with the character by exploring his dark side. The actor then kept a diary in which he noted his darkest thoughts, in order to enrich his future performance. All this, accompanied by deep and serious research on Batman’s sworn enemy, but also on clowns. His work would even have become so obsessive, that it would have led him to his tragic end in 2008, when he succumbed to an overdose.

Daniel Day-Lewis for Phantom Thread

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© Universal pictures

Renowned for his astonishing methods and his infallible seriousness in the preparation of his roles, Daniel Day-Lewis was no exception to the rule for the film by Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread. In order to interpret the stylist Reynolds Woodcock with the most credibility possible, the British actor has truly trained as a designer. The actor learned to handle the fabric, to drape it to be able to make clothes himself. He was so involved in his research that he managed to create a model copied from Balenciaga himself. Great art!

Joaquin Phoenix for Joker

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© Warner Bros.

To get the Oscar for best actor in 2020, Joaquin Phoenix worked very hard. And for good reason, the actor is compelled to a drastic diet in order to lose 25 kilos to give his Joker a sickly look. In addition to this physical metamorphosis, the latter then focused on the laughter of his character, which stands out as a central element of Todd Phillips’ film. The actor then spent long hours studying videos of patients suffering from pathological laughter to be able to draw inspiration from them, then trained himself to laugh himself so that it became natural. A total success, his performance having been hailed by critics and spectators around the world.

Actor Jamie Foxx for Ray

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© United International Pictures

Immersing yourself in the skin of a great celebrity is not easy, as the pressure is great. More than the public, it’s a whole community of fans that we must not disappoint! That, Jamie Foxx had understood and therefore gave his all to best embody the singer Ray Charles in the biopic film by Taylor Hackford. If he already knew how to play the piano from his earliest childhood, the American actor mainly focused on the blindness of the artist in order to perceive the world in the same way as him. To prepare for the role, the latter therefore spent 12 hours in the dark every day and even took courses at the Braille Institute. On the set, Jamie Foxx then asked to have his eyelids glued on to play his scenes in the same arrangements as the jazz legend and give him the best possible representation on screen. To this, was then matched a small physical transformation, the actor having had to lose 13 kilos to look more like the character.

Natalie Portman for black swan

black swan

© 20th Century Fox

To give life to Nina, shy and delicate ballerina from black swan, Natalie Portman immersed herself in a dancer’s existence a year before filming began. To start, the actress first took lessons with a professional dancer 3 hours a day to build muscle and work on her toes in particular. After six months, she then forced herself to swim 1.5 km a day in addition to the 5 hours of ballet necessary for her preparation. Finally, two months before starting to shoot, the actress had to learn the choreography of Benjamin Millepied at the rate of 8 hours of daily training. How to become a real prima ballerina!

Margot Robbie for Me Tonya

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© Mars Films

Born in Australia, Margot Robbie knows long stretches of sand better than cold and ice. However, when she landed the role of Tonya Harding in Craig Gillespie’s biopic, the young actress immediately took her role very seriously and the preparation that goes with it. Although she was familiar with ice hockey, the latter had to undergo intensive training to learn how to skate gracefully while performing tricks. For this, the actress spent 4 hours a day, 5 days a week training. Enough to allow her to perform most of the scenes herself, although a double was used for the most difficult figures.

Robert de Niro for The Incorruptibles

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©1987 by Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Meticulous and very punctilious in the way he approaches his roles in the cinema, Robert de Niro really gave of his person to slip into the skin of Al Capone for Brian De Palma’s film, The Incorruptibles. With little time to prepare for the role, the actor flew to Italy where he followed a very hearty local diet to gain weight quickly. His pasta and pizza method worked perfectly, as he managed to put on 12 kilos in just five weeks. Then, to push the transformation a little further, the comedian shaved his head in order to look rounder. He also contacted tailors who had dressed the famous criminal in the past and sought to gather accessories and other objects that belonged to, or at least were similar to, those available to the man nicknamed Scarface.

Colin Firth for Kingsman

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© 20th Century Fox

Accustomed to more intellectual than physical roles, Colin Firth had to step out of his comfort zone to play Harry Hart in the saga Kingsman by Matthew Vaughn. In order to be able to perform his stunts himself, the British comedian then trained 3 hours a day for six months with a team of professionals made up of Jackie Chan’s coach, an Olympic gymnastics champion and a member of the special forces. Enough to transform the famous English gentleman into a formidable Galahad.

Actor Bob Odenkirk for nobody

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© Universal Pictures

At almost 60 years old, Bob Odenkirk set himself an incredible physical challenge with the film nobody, released in 2021. To embody the amazing Hutch Mansell, Bob Odenkirk took the time to do it right. He therefore began his preparation two years before the start of filming, going to the gym for two to three days to train with combat and stunt professionals. A preparation similar to that of Keanu Reeves, who at the time attended the same establishment as him!

Natalie Portman, Heath Ledger… 10 completely crazy actor preparations for a movie role