Method actors have won over 80% of ‘Best Actor’ Academy Awards in the last decade.
Method acting is often looked upon as an extreme and mysterious way to improve an actor’s performance, but when it comes down to the bottom-line box office figures and academy awards, it’s hard to argue with its obvious benefits.
From Joaquin Phoenix to Meryl Streep, some of the world’s most respected and celebrated performers follow the Method and find great success as a result. To illustrate this point, we’ve put together some of the most revealing method acting facts and statistics…
Method Acting Facts, Figures and Awards
1. The Academy agrees
Method actors have won over 80% of ‘Best Actor’ Academy Awards in the last decade. With The Method being a technique that allows you to feel true inspiration at will, it has worked its magic on the big screen, leading to a whole lot of prestigious Academy Awards. It is a fact that The Method helps to create real, in depth, believable characters, and over 100 actors have won Oscars by following it.
2. The success of Daniel Day Lewis
One of the craft’s most cherished sons, Daniel Day Lewis is arguably one of the most successful actors in the world, and is widely known to be a method actor. He has won three Academy Awards for ‘Best Actor’: the only actor ever to do so in that category, most recently for Lincoln. Putting his success down to his meticulous preparation, using the method, he inhibits the role, and refuses to break character on set. Having reportedly tattooed himself in preparation for The Crucible, trained for a year and a half to portray Danny Flynn in The Boxer, and contracted pneumonia after refusing to wear anything but historically accurate coats on the set of Gangs of New York, his dedication to his profession is extreme yet inspiring, and it shines through in his performances.
3. The Pianist
Roman Polanski’s The Pianist was made on a $35m budget and starred Adrien Brody as a Polish- Jewish pianist during World War Two, based on the memoirs of Władysław Szpilman. It made a budget quadrupling $120.1m at the box office, and currently holds a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the best to be released in 2002. Many critics hailed the performance of Brody as particularly impressive and he won a ‘Best Actor’ Academy Award for his efforts, at 29 the youngest ever to do so. He achieved such a feat by taking heavily from the Method. He practiced piano for four hours every day, moved to Europe with few belongings in preparation and lost 30 pounds of weight to more accurately portray his starving character. He described his experience as fulfilling, and expressed that suffering in such a way allowed him to ‘find a greater connection to the material’, allowing him to be honest in his performance. The result is a powerful film that was both a great commercial and critical success.
4. Kate Winslet’s first Oscar
Kate Winslet had already been acting for quite some time when in 2008 she won the part of Hanna Schmitz in The Reader. The story of an illiterate woman and ex-Nazi told through the eyes of her 15-year-old lover, it is an extremely poignant film, with particularly impressive performances. Having taken from The Method to bring the character of Hanna to life, Winslet found it very difficult to return to regular life, saying in an interview: “It’s like I’ve escaped from a serious car accident and need to understand what has just happened.” It reportedly took her two months to feel back to normal, after connecting so deeply with her troubled character. The film made $108m at the box office, and Winslet won a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actress.
5. The Most Harrowing Joker
It is impossible to talk about the effectiveness of Method acting without mentioning Heath Ledger, and his career defining performance as the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Now considered one of the best superhero movies of all time, audiences were captivated by Ledger’s terrifying Joker, and the transformation he underwent to portray the character. The Method was key to helping Ledger to craft his performance, and his preparation for the role was immense. From his erratic diary that he kept as he isolated himself and built up his emotional connection to the character, to the reports that he refused to break character on set and ran on two hours sleep a night, his commitment was unwavering, and the result is a performance so seamless, it is difficult to fault it.
6. It’s as popular today as it’s ever been
Method acting has been a technique in use in Hollywood since Stanislavski and Strasberg were around, throughout the Golden Age, and all the way up to the modern day, and it isn’t showing any signs of disappearing. It allows actors to create career defining characters, and many benefit hugely from the natural performance they can give due to the techniques that it offers them. And while some actors, such as Edward Norton and Christian Bale are ‘Method Actors’ and commit 100% to the technique, others find success by taking inspiration or aspects from the Method, such as Anne Hathaway did, when she famously had her hair cut for real on the set of Les Miserables, (a role for which she was also awarded an Oscar).
Though it continues to be misunderstood and shrouded in relative secrecy, ‘The Method’ has helped actors take their skills to the next level for decades, and will certainly do so in the future. Want to find out more about ‘The Method’ yourself? Why not apply for our 3 day Method Acting Bootcamp?