Book Article

Acting Up A Storm: A History

The highs and lows of Method actors -- From Marlon Brando to Daniel Day-Lewis, find out who was most successful in ''becoming'' their role

Ever since the Method taught them to ''become'' their roles, actors have been piling on pounds, spending months on research, and staying in character 24/7 — all for their art. Here's a sampling of highs and lows through the years, ranked from genius to dubious.

MARLON BRANDO
On the Waterfront (1954)
The Method icon mumbled his way to an Oscar as an angsty dockworker.

ROBERT DE NIRO
Raging Bull (1980)
He learned to box, then gained 55 pounds to play Jake La Motta gone to seed.

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS
There Will Be Blood (2007)
After confining himself to a wheelchair for 1989's My Left Foot, he earned his second Oscar channeling a crazed oilman.

RENÉE ZELLWEGER
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
She packed on 20 pounds to play the British singleton — and snagged an Oscar nod.

PAUL NEWMAN
The Hustler (1961)
The student of guru Lee Strasberg learned pool, then took up race-car driving for 1969's Winning.

MARLON BRANDO
Apocalypse Now (1979)
He arrived on set grossly overweight, then told director Francis Ford Coppola he didn't want his character to be fat.

NICOLAS CAGE
Vampire's Kiss (1989)
No actor has gone so far for so little: He ate a live cockroach on screen.

Originally posted Mar 06, 2008 Published in issue #982 Mar 14, 2008 Order article reprints
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