Many of the Hollywood stars practiced method acting at least once or twice in their career. They used it to polish their acting skills and create an authentic performance. Of course, it’s one thing to “method play” a spoiled billionaire or a hooker, and it’s a whole other story when you need to convince the audience that you’re a drug addict, even if they’ve never seen one. This can be especially tricky, as actors can’t just do drugs all day long to see how it feels. So how do they do it?
John Travolta in Pulp Fiction (1994)
Let’s start with one of the most iconic performances of the 90’s – Pulp Fiction. The movie featured 3 separate but interlocking stories involving two gangster killers: Vincent Vega, a heroin addict, played by John Travolta, and a bada$$ Jules Winnfield, played by Samuel L. Jackson.
There’s a scene where Travolta’s character was supposed to get shitfaced on drugs, right? So, an ex-addict, a friend of Quentin Tarantino, tells him how to come close to what a heroin high might feel like. He says: get plastered on tequila while relaxing in a hot bath. And guess what? Travolta did just that together with his wife. Were you fooled by his performance?
Heath Ledger in Candy (2006)
Remember Heath Ledger’s amazing performance in 2006 film “Candy”? Ledger, played the poet Dan, and he had to put surfing life aside for this role. Heath intentionally avoided the sun, and hid in darkness, to achieve the pale look of a junkie. But that’s not all. Heath actually hung out with a real junkie in Sydney, who showed him (on a prosthetic arm) the best ways to inject. That’s some dedication right there!
Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
I don’t care what anyone thinks, I say Nicolas Cage is a real genius, and when he started preparing to play the role of a suicidal alcoholic, who loses everything in Leaving Las Vegas, he learned some really disturbing stuff about alcoholism. Cage said he talked to many drunks to gather all the needed information, but what he found was that, apparently, the stomach shrinks and contracts like a fist, and the alcohol’s like this injection that goes into the body and relaxes it. That’s why his performance in that movie was so… stomach-churning.
Samuel L. Jackson in Jungle Fever (1991)
In an ironic twist of fate, Sam Jackson’s “drug addict” role in the Jungle Fever was based completely on his own past experience. Actually, this was the first movie that he did without any drugs in his system. Samuel was released from rehab just a few weeks before the filming started. Talk about “method acting”, am I right?
Jared Leto in Requiem For A Dream (2000)
Jared Leto is known for 2 things: his band “30 Seconds to Mars”, and his method acting. Just remember last year’s Suicide Squad and his fairly decent portrayal of the Joker. But when he played a heroin junkie in the 2000 cult movie “Requiem for a Dream”, he tried pretty much everything (except for the drugs) to commit to the role, even as far as to spend weeks living with drug addicts, watching them do their thing. He even lost 25 pounds for the role, and he’s already been a really skinny guy to begin with, starving himself to the point that he started to faint on set.
Leonardo Dicaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)
And finally we got Leo Dicaprio in the 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street”, which you’ve all probably seen a hundred times. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Belfort, Leo’s character, overdoses on Quaaludes with Donnie Azoff, played by Jonah Hill. So how did he make that scene so believable? Believe it or not, he asked Belfort himself to roll on the floor, reenacting what it’s like to be on Quaaludes, while Leo filmed him. That sure helped, but not as much as watching a video on YouTube of a guy that is trying to get beer, but is too drunk, so he’s just rolling on the ground. YouTube for life!