Question for method actors

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by nitro, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. nitro


    With the recent death of Heath Ledger, it occurred to me that his death was right after his very dark role as the Joker in the new Batman movie. I wonder if this role tipped him over the edge.

    My question is this: Why don't more method actors go mad? I mean, the really good actors get into a character and "lose" themselves in the role. Isn't this dangerous on some level?

    Also, how does an actor mantain his own ego/id etc when getting into a role? Marlon Brando also comes to mind. Is it definetly a trade off between greatness and madness?

  2. jem


    I like the question. I guess a semester of intro to acting in college - would not give my opinion much weight.

    I do really like the question. I wonder if James Lipton is trader.
  3. Good question. My first thought, into assuming a role that is outside your character may be a soldier at war.
  4. nitro


    But there you can justify your behavior, because the mind is not self inflicting the delusion.

    However, point well taken, as soldiers often come back a mess.

  5. Next thought would be undercover law enforcement. Possibly in the short term their may be some re adjustments (re law enforcement) but "acting" in under cover operations last much longer and more intense than an actor in a movie. I'm inclined to opine it would not have much of an effect on an professional actor.
  6. hcour

    hcour Guest

    Ledger had psychological/emotional issues well before he took the role of The Joker. He died because he mixed something like 6 different prescriptions, there's no way that could be attributed to a role.

    I've certainly heard and read actors talking about the difficulty they sometimes experience in playing certain characters day after day. However I don't believe actors really "lose" themselves in a character, never completely. Good actors always have control, this is referred to as the "duality" of acting. They are the character, but they are also aware of themselves, as actors, playing the role. Otherwise, a stage actor would forget to project his voice, he would forget to face the audience, he'd fall off the damn stage. A film actor has to hit his very specific "marks", he has to face the camera at this or that specific angle, he has to make this or that specific gesture. W/o that duality, that control, their performance would not be technically viable and therefore useless.

  7. this thread is silly. there MAY be a slight relationship b/w genius and madness, but it's small and tenuous at best. And this refers to TRUE genius, ie very high IQ. who says method actors are geniuses in the true sense? and how many great actors are there whose behaviour is not bizarre compared to a few oddballs?

    silly :p
  8. Assuming for a moment that there is a relationship between the two in the context that you propose, I would guess it is the madness that makes them great rather than the greatness that makes them mad.

    "First, although highly creative individuals tend to exhibit elevated scores on certain psychopathological symptoms, their scores are seldom so high as to represent bona fide psychopathology. Instead, the scores lie somewhere between the normal and abnormal ranges (Barron, 1963; Eysenck, 1995). For example, although successful writers score higher than normals on most clinical scales of the MMPI, and highly creative writers score higher still, scores for both groups remain below those received by individuals who are psychotic (Figure). At these moderate levels, the individual will possess traits that can actually be considered adaptive from the standpoint of creative behavior. For instance, higher than average scores on psychoticism are associated with independence and nonconformity, features that lend support to innovative activities (Eysenck, 1995). In addition, elevated scores on psychoticism are associated with the capacity for defocused attention (e.g., reduced negative priming and latent inhibition), thereby enabling ideas to enter the mind that would normally be filtered out during information processing (Eysenck, 1993). This less restrictive mode of information processing is also associated with openness to experience, a cognitive inclination that is positively associated with creativity (Peterson and Carson, 2000; Peterson et al., 2002).

    Second, creative individuals score high on other characteristics that would seem to dampen the effects of any psychopathological symptoms. In particular, creators display high levels of ego strength and self-sufficiency (Barron, 1963; Cattell and Butcher, 1968). Accordingly, they can exert meta-cognitive control over their symptoms, taking advantage of bizarre thoughts, rather than having the bizarre thoughts take advantage of them. Furthermore, the capacity to exploit unusual ideas is supported by general intelligence. Although intelligence is not correlated with creativity in the upper levels of the intelligence distribution, a certain minimal level of intelligence is required for exceptional creativity (Simonton, 2000). That threshold level is in the gifted range, roughly equivalent to an IQ 120. Creators do not necessarily have genius-grade IQs, but they do have sufficient information processing power to select, develop, elaborate and refine original ideas into creative contributions."

    this last part in bold is very interesting..hmmm

    ps traders aren't mad afteral :D