6. Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot
Daniel Day Lewis is definitely worthy of being on this list. There are many examples of movies that he went to extremes to make. When he was starring in The Crucible, he erected a log cabin for himself to live in, and reportedly did not take any baths or showers until shooting was over. To play The Boxer, he actually learned how to box from a former world champion, Barry McGuigan, who described him as talented enough to go pro.
He severely injured his back and suffered a broken nose. To prepare for one film, he lived on prison food, lost a significant amount of weight and spent time in an actual jail cell, not eating or sleeping for two entire days. The film crew was also instructed to yell insults to him all day. Perhaps the most extreme, though, was when he went all in to play Christy Brown, who had cerebral palsy, in My Left Foot. Brown only had the use of the toes on his left foot, and amazingly learned how to write and paint with it. Daniel learned how to do the same, and refused to leave his wheelchair for so long that his posture broke two of his ribs. If that’s not dedication to your craft, I don’t know what is!
7. Shia LaBeouf, Fury
Shia LaBeouf is known for his performance art, and wild and erratic behavior. However, he is a bona fide actor who earned his place on this list for the role he played in the film Fury. Fury Is set during World War II and Shia prepared for it by watching horses die, not bathing at all during shooting and cutting his own face.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he also picked at the wound every day to make sure it didn’t heal until the film was finished. I guess he didn’t trust the makeup crew to make it look authentic enough. Wow. Starving yourself for a part is one thing, but actually slicing your face open takes it to a whole other level! Can you imagine the pain of actively keeping a wound fresh like that? That might cross over the line from dedication to crazy!
8. Cape Fear and more, Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro is one of those actors who can play serious, comedic and even downright frightening. He is beloved by many for his roles in comedies and dramas alike. He has worked with the incomparable Martin Scorsese on a number of occasions, resulting in some Amazing work. He played the lead character in the movie Taxi Driver, which some consider to be one of the best films of all time. He actually got a license to drive taxi before the movie and worked in New York to get a feel for the part. And apparently, he listened to readings of Arthur Bremer’s diary.
Arthur Bremer was the man who shot George Wallace, paralyzing him from the waist down. The choice of listening material seems a little weird, but driving a cab is not such an abnormal thing for someone playing the role of a taxi driver. What does seem a little off-the-wall is spending $20,000 to have your actual teeth ground down in order to look scarier for a part. In Cape Fear he played a frightening criminal, and spent some time studying actual people who were jailed for assault. Also pretty normal. I can’t imagine what was going through his mind to decide to alter his appearance for ever for a roll, but he did earn an Academy award nomination for the part. Maybe that made it worth it to him. Either way, he did an amazing job. He definitely scared me!