Actors in Hollywood are known for going to extremes for roles. A common move for an actor to be taken seriously is to majorly alter their looks for a part. It’s paid off as Charlize Theron, Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, and others have won Oscars for changing themselves for parts. Robert DeNiro and Daniel Day-Lewis are two of the best-known cases of method actors who go to incredible lengths for their roles. Even a few B-list actors have gone method, which ended up helping their careers majorly, and the parts were very well received for this dedication.
However, there are cases where all the prep and method in the world can’t make a movie a hit. Several actors have taken “Oscar-bait” roles only for those movies to come nowhere near award standards. Even some terrific actors can’t make this preparation pay off with a few truly suffering for their work. Here are 20 cases of actors who tried way too hard in roles that ended up not meaning much to show “going method” doesn’t always pay off.
20 Daniel Day-Lewis Learned Italian For Nine
Daniel Day-Lewis is infamous for how he vanishes into his characters. He doesn’t play a role, he becomes the role. But even he can have a flop now and then. Nine adapted the Broadway musical with Day-Lewis as a 1960s movie director handling the women in his life. While not known for his great singing voice, Day-Lewis took lessons to pull the songs off. He also learned Italian. Not just a few phrases, but made himself fluent in the language for the part. The movie was a rare misfire for Day-Lewis even though he gave his all to it.
19 Jamie Foxx Learned The Cello For The Soloist
Learning musical skills and going method had already worked out for Jamie Foxx. He’d won the Oscar for bringing Ray Charles to life so casting him in The Soloist made sense. Based on a true story, Foxx played a once-great cellist who was now homeless. While he’d known piano, Foxx taught himself how to play the cello and handling the role well. The movie ended up being bumped from its fall slot to a forgettable April release to ruin Foxx’s prep.
18 Chris Hemsworth Lost His Muscles For In The Heart Of The Sea
We know Chris Hemsworth for his handsome looks and muscular build that made him a star as Thor. In the Heart of the Sea had Hemsworth stretching himself as a member of a whaling crew who ends up marooned at sea. Hemsworth shocked fans by showing images of himself nearly skin and bones and a serious sunburn. His diet was one egg a day to lose nearly 60 pounds. Sadly, the movie sunk at the box office and Hemsworth had to beef himself back up to play Thor again after all that hard work.
17 Ryan Gosling Gained 60 Pounds...Then Got Fired
At least everyone else on this list got their role on screen. Ryan Gosling can’t even say that. Gosling was cast in The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the best-selling novel. To fit the role of the grieving father, Gosling gained 60 pounds via shakes and ice cream. But just before filming was about to begin, Jackson decided that Gosling’s weight gain was too much and replaced him with Mark Wahlberg. So Gosling got himself fat without even a credit to show for it.
16 Ben Foster Took The Same Stuff Lance Armstrong Did
Before his fall from grace, Lance Armstrong was known for his intensity as a cyclist. To portray Armstrong in The Program, Ben Foster mimicked that majorly. It was one thing for Foster to train himself to lose weight and copy Armstrong’s biking style. Bigger was that Foster took the exact same performance-enhancing materials Armstrong had. Even director Stephen Fears didn’t know Foster was going that far. The movie flopped to make this a poor move that nearly drove Foster crazy.
15 Chloe Sevigny Went Too Far In An Intimate Scene For Brown Bunny
The Brown Bunny has become infamous for its reaction. Not only was it booed out of the building at Cannes but writer/director/star Vincent Gallo began a feud with Roger Ebert over the latter’s trashing of the film. All this had to affect Chloe Sevigny, who played Gallo’s girlfriend in the movie. For the controversial final scene, Sevigny went all the way in an intimate moment with Gallo that divided audiences. The scenes were cut from the U.S. version and the movie wasn’t worth what Sevigny put herself through.
14 John Cena Pushed His Fears For 12 Rounds
In his wrestling career, John Cena has suffered a lot of injuries. One would think he doesn’t feel fear but in reality, Cena has long had an issue with heights. In 12 Rounds, Cena plays a cop who has to go through a dozen challenges to rescue his girlfriend. One had him dangling from the side of a building before sliding down a ladder. On the movie’s DVD commentary, Cena admits he was so freaked out on the first try that he nearly quit the film. The movie vanished from theaters fast as even Cena has his limits.
13 Ellen Page Starved Herself For An American Crime
In 2007, Ellen Page broke out starring in the hit comedy Juno. The same year, she starred in An American Crime where she played a young girl who’d been locked in a basement in the 1960s. Page starved herself for the role, refusing to eat for days on end and when pushed on it, claimed that it was because her character wouldn’t be allowed to eat as much. The movie wasn’t successful and Juno did much better for Page’s career.
12 Anson Mount Created His Own Sign Language For Inhumans
The Inhumans is the biggest misfire of the MCU. It was to be a big-screen movie only for that to be changed into a flop TV show hated by fans and critics alike. Anson Mount was cast as Black Bolt, the leader of the Inhumans who has to be silent due to his powerful voice. Mount created his own special sign language for Black Bolt to use, teaching the other actors with over 50 original hand movements. That’s a lot of dedication for a role that lasted only a few weeks.
11 Sofia Boutella Got Under Makeup For The Mummy
Universal had their Dark Universe set as the next big franchise, lining up some major stars and prepping for a series of movies. Too bad they forgot to make the first installment work. The Mummy was a major letdown that killed the entire franchise off the bat. The title character was to be a man but changed to a woman with Sofia Boutella in the role. A former dancer, Boutella used those skills in training to pull off the scene of her character escaping being wrapped in chains. She also put up with the makeup job that painted over her entire body. Boutella was the major bright spot to this misfire.
10 Meryl Streep Learned The Guitar For Ricki And The Flash
A joke on boards is that Meryl Streep could do a five-minute cameo in an Adam Sandler movie and get an Oscar nomination for it. That is hurt by how Ricki and the Flash was a quickly forgotten disappointment. As usual, Streep did her best for the role, including teaching herself how to play the electric guitar. It took just three months for her to look like an authentic rocker including playing in a band. Even in a “nothing” role, Streep went pretty method.
9 Halle Berry Trained Way Too Hard For Catwoman
While there have been plenty of contenders since, 2004’s Catwoman is still high on the lists of the worst comic book movies. Halle Berry did her best with the part, embarking on a serious training regiment of kickboxing and martial arts while watching her diet. She also put up with that ridiculous costume while doing many of her own stunts. The movie was a bomb but Berry proved she was a good sport by showing up in person to accept her Worst Actress Razzie and has even credited the film for her current fitness.
8 Jared Leto Went Nuts As The Joker
It’s well known how Suicide Squad became a complete mess as Warner Bros couldn’t decide if they wanted a gritty crime drama or a light-hearted comic book flick. One of the biggest issues was the casting of Jared Leto as the Joker which could have been great. But the punk-attitude Joker with gold teeth and tattoos threw off fans. Leto then acted like a true lunatic on set, sent Margot Robbie a rat, gave Viola Davis a pig and other antics that drove everyone crazy. Most of his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor to just leave Leto wild a worse reputation.
7 Michael Chiklis Went Into Major Makeup For The Thing
Michael Chiklis had been enjoying a great push in the early 2000s thanks to his Emmy-winning role in The Shield. When he was cast as Ben Grimm in 2005’s Fantastic Four, the idea was for him to be the human Ben and then voice a CGI Thing. But Chiklis insisted on putting up with a complex makeup job that added over 60 pounds of fake rocks to his body to play the role. He even learned to read with the teeth implants to make his lines work. The movies aren’t well regarded but fans agree that Chiklis is the best “thing” about them.
6 Raul Julia Was Literally Dying In Street Fighter
It doesn’t seem right an actor as brilliant Raul Julia had his final role in the huge bomb Street Fighter. The reality is that Julia was suffering from cancer and knew his time was running out. His kids were big fans of the video game so he took the role for them and a nice paycheck. Articles and even a book chapter note how Julia was on his last legs when filming but as soon as the cameras rolled, was a total professional. Julia passed away after filming so his final performance looks sadder today.
5 Charlize Theron Nearly Broke Her Neck For Aeon Flux
Hot off her Oscar win, Charlize Theron slumped with Aeon Flux. The adaptation of the popular animated series was a huge bomb that was ravaged by critics. But the movie could have a much more tragic reputation. Theron did many of the stunts herself inside a tight bodysuit. Among them was a fall that gave her a severe neck injury and came within inches of being paralyzed. Theron doesn’t speak well of the movie which came close to ending her entire career.
4 Hilary Swank Learned Martial Arts For Next Karate Kid
Even a two-time Best Actress Oscar winner has to start somewhere. Hilary Swank was 20 when she made The Next Karate Kid and went all out for her first major movie role. Not only did Swank train herself hard in martial arts but she also learned some Japanese to properly fit the part. She even put up with how to handle a hawk for the role. The movie was a bomb but it showed the dedication Swank would use for her later career.
3 Sigourney Weaver Made An Impossible Shot For Alien Resurrection
Alien Resurrection was meant to revive the sci-fi franchise but did not do nearly as well as expected. It had Sigourney Weaver back as Ripley who was revived via cloning. In one scene, Ripley shows her new skills by making a behind-the-back basketball shot while walking away. Everyone assumed they’d just use CGI or trick photography for the basket. Instead, Weaver trained hard until she could do it herself. In just the sixth take, she made the shot so perfectly audiences assumed it was CGI. The movie flopped but Weaver can be a force on a court.
2 Leonardo DiCaprio Hid Himself In Makeup To Be J Edgar
Before he finally won the Oscar for The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio was trying various “Oscar bait” projects. Among them was J. Edgar, a Clint Eastwood film where DiCaprio portrayed controversial FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. DiCaprio put up with a major makeup job to play Hoover from a young man to his 70s with the makeup harder as it went along. The movie had a mixed reaction and DiCaprio missed an Oscar nomination and not among his best-known parts.
1 Jake Gyllenhaal Got Ripped For Southpaw
Boxing movies tend to push actors to the limit. Jake Gyllenhaal learned that when making Southpaw. The drama has him as a champion boxer who loses it when his wife dies and has to fight his way back into contention. Gyllenhaal shared with several bodybuilding magazines his intense fitness regiment that included not just losing weight but gaining 8 pounds of sheer muscle. He also learned how to move and jab just like any real boxer. While critics praised his performance, the movie wasn’t well-received despite how Gyllenhaal could go a few rounds for real.
Sources: imdb.com, ranker.com, variety.com, buzzfeed.com