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10 Actors Who Got Too Involved in Their Roles

6. Hugh Laurie in House

The actor is better known as Dr. Gregory House. He couldn’t get rid of the limp that he developed over the span of eight years when he played the role of Dr. House’s character in the Fox show House

Hugh Laurie
Hugh Laurie in Pasadena, CA (Image to the left), Actor in the movie House. Image credits: DFree/Shutterstock, Shore Z Productions

Laurie is originally British, yet he was selected for the American Fox show House where he played the role of Dr. House who is known for his gruff ways of interacting with people and also the limp. Laurie mentioned that he was so habituated to limping that he often forgot the lines but as soon as he heard “action,” he spontaneously started limping.

He added that he felt like a dog that has been prodded with electrodes. He worked as Dr. House for eight years and later couldn’t get over the limp easily. He was pretty effortful to play House’s character. Besides limping, he used to carry out vocal exercises to let go of his British accent and adopt the hoarse voice suitable for the role.

His brilliant acting work in House led him to bigger projects, but whenever he worked on those other projects, the limp occasionally popped up, even after three years. (1, 2)

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7. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

A diary was found weeks after he died displaying how deep the actor went into the psyche of his character of Joker in The Dark Knight. He locked himself up in a hotel room with the diary for a month where he wrote and practiced the psychopathic dialogues of the character.

Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger in New York (Image to the left), Actor as the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. Image credits: Everett Collection/Shutterstock, Warner Bros.

To play the role Heath played in the movie The Dark Night, it is absolutely plausible that he would do something like that. Heath thought he had to put himself through a self-imposed exile to dwell inside the chilling psyche of the Joker, as described by his father. 

The diary was only shared by his father, Kim, but was recently revealed when a German documentary filmmaker wanted to learn more about Heath’s final period before he passed away. The diary showed many traces of his performance and strangely enough, it was a collection of his random manic thoughts that he perhaps intentionally brought out to prepare for the movie.

The diary included hyenas, clowns, Alex DeLearge from A Clockwork Orange, etc. His dad mentioned that it was typical of Heath to dedicate himself to a character, but for this one, he really took it up a notch. 

The Joker work was finished in 2007, but the film was in the editing phase when the actor passed away. Some people claim that the unusual psyche of Joker played a major role in Heath’s death, but the actor rather mentioned that he had the most fun ever, or probably ever will have, to play a character like that. 

Despite him enjoying the role, he admitted before he died that he was going through insomnia because he was constantly thinking. Also, he was not in a very healthy psychological condition while preparing for the role. 

Nonetheless, he got the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor posthumously. (source)

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8. Janet Leigh in Psycho

The shower scene in Hitchcock’s movie Psycho took seven days to film, and it left an emotional scar on the actress Janet Leigh forever. She was so terrified that she didn’t take showers for years after the movie was filmed. 

Janet Leigh
Actress Janet Leigh (Image to the left), “Psycho” Janet Leigh 1960 paramount. Image credits: Feature Flash Photo Agency/Shutterstock, Shamley Productions

The horror film Psycho is ranked among the greatest movies of all time and is also considered a good example of the earliest slasher film. The movie wouldn’t have been so terrifying without the shower scene played by Janet Leigh. She played it out so well that it is still horrifying to watch for any viewer. 

The filming of the shower scene required seven days and 20 takes to finalize. Still, the part is only about 45 seconds when Leigh was shown repeatedly stabbed to death in the shower. When she was attacked, she had to land her head against the tub and squinch.

Of course, she pretends that she was dead without showing any movements, which was extremely difficult as she couldn’t focus because of the water running over her face when she was down. It left an emotional scar in her mind, and she didn’t take shower for almost 35 years, only baths.

Leigh mentioned whenever she bathed, she closed all the doors and windows of the house, kept the bathroom door open, kept the shower curtain open, and couldn’t move her attention off the door. 

Leigh was pleased when she watched the film after it was ready, and also again after many years. She said it was very real and emotional to watch, and she could notice new things every other time she watched the movie. (source)

9. Shelly Duvall in The Shining

Duvall was traumatized and scared for her life after starring in the movie The Shining. Her throat went dry from crying, she started losing her hair, and she almost gave up entirely on her acting career. 

Shelley Duvall
Shelley Duvall arriving at celebrity event (Image to the left), Actress in ‘The Shining’. Image credits: Shutterstock, Hawk Films

The Shining proved to be a very successful horror movie, but it was only due to the diligent work and sacrifices made by the actress Shelly Duvall. The director of the film, Stanley Kubrick, treated Duvall pretty tyrannically to get her into the character that she was playing.

He isolated Duvall from others and asked the entire film crew to show no sympathy towards her. He intentionally didn’t appreciate her work. The popular baseball scene from the movie required 127 takes and Duvall’s hands were dehydrated and wounded between takes.

Duvall’s health declined because of all the stress she was going through while filming the role. She described the role as a “scream therapy,” and the most difficult one she had ever played. Despite the hardships, Duvall was content with her work after she went home. The role had pushed the actress so much; it was indeed one traumatic experience that she often shared openly in interviews years later. (source)

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10. Christian Bale in The Machinist

The actor transformed himself for the movie The Machinist to the degree that his body distorted to a nearly skeletal-like frame. He pulled his weight down to 54 kilograms and further wanted to bring it down by another 10 kilograms, but the director stopped him because if he did, it would have seriously damaged his body and might even lead to death. 

Christian Bale
Christian Bale in London (Image to the left), Actor in ‘The Machinist’. Image credits: Steve Vas via Feature Flash Photo Agency/Shutterstock, Castelao Productions

The actor is well known for his crazy physical transformations for different films, but during the time of The Machinist, it was on a whole different level. He brought his weight down to 54 kilograms in just four months and still was not satisfied by it. The role he was playing in the movie was of an insomniac industrial worker.

The methods used by Bale to nail this down were completely unhealthy. He used to continuously smoke cigarettes and drank whiskey. For his diet, he once mentioned the “black coffee fast” which involved consuming just black coffee, a single apple, and some canned tuna every day. Everything added up to just 200 calories of intake every day. 

After he was finished with this role, Bale gained 30 kilograms again in a couple of years for a new movie and lost it again for another. While speaking to a bunch of magazines, he mentioned that he just can’t keep going this way. If he continued his practice of rapid transformations, it might even lead to an early death. (source)

Also read: 18 Facts About Famous Actors Who Went to Extreme Lengths for Movie Roles

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