It’s common knowledge that a number of movie stars have gone above and beyond to prepare for their roles on the silver screen, but what about some of TV’s most famous faces?
From waterboarding to dramatic weight loss, this lot seriously committed to their characters. Bravo.
We’ve always known that Samantha Morton is cool with a capital C, but the 41-year-old recently cemented her status as a bona fide badass when she shaved her head for her role in The Walking Dead.
She’s playing Alpha, The Whisperers’ fearsome leader, and she’s certainly not messing around.
“Oh, I loved it. It just feels very real, and what the audience is seeing is real, you know?” she told Entertainment Weekly.
“And there’s emotions about that, but the practicalities for pre-Alpha is that the hair, she’s turning herself into something. She’s metamorphosing from a caterpillar to a butterfly, but not the nicest butterfly, you know?
“She’s completely changing who she is, and whether that’s trauma and something to do with the brain, or that she just found her true self that she’s able to be because of what’s happening to the world.”
Digital Spy previously asked former Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln (we’re still not over it) about Morton joining the show, and clearly she’s had quite a powerful effect: “She’s scared the bejeezus out of all of the crew, actually. Someone was doing an impersonation of a scene that she did, and even that scared me. I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s really scary’.
“These kind of roles usually go to men, so that’s why she’s thrilled, and she’s giving it extraordinary attention and care. So I think we’re very, very fortunate to have her.”
Amen to that.
When Forest Whitaker landed the role of Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh on The Shield, he clearly felt like he needed to make some external changes to get into character, and for him that involved shedding a lot of weight.
The 57-year-old had reportedly gained a whopping 70lbs for his role as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, for which he took home the Oscar for Best Actor back in 2007.
But following that, Whitaker decided to change up his habits and lose the bulk which had been so essential for that award-winning performance.
“I’ve been fascinated about the situation in that I’m a villain in a weird way,” he told Variety.
“I started him off with a lot of intensity, someone very driven. As the episodes wore on, the writers became more excited about writing for the character. He was unpredictable.”
You can say that again.
It’s usually the stunt personnel doing the heavy lifting, but Criminal Minds’ AJ Cook, who plays Jennifer Jareau aka JJ, isn’t one to shy away from the less-glamorous side of acting after she allowed herself to be waterboarded (ie the controversial torture technique) during a flashback scene in the show’s 200th episode.
Producers were finding it difficult to make the moment look realistic, so Cook volunteered to have it inflicted upon her.
“There are some pretty gnarly torture scenes and me being the crazy person I am, I wanted it to look real,” she told Australian publication The Northern Star. “I wanted it to be as authentic as possible.
“They put a towel over your face and they dump water over your face and the water in your nose and mouth fills up and you start choking and you can’t breathe. To prevent the water from getting in my mouth, we tried to do it with a plastic bag over my head which isn’t that much better, but it wasn’t working because every time they pulled the towel off the plastic would be stuck to my face.
“I was like, ‘Screw it, just do it. Waterboard me’.”
“It was definitely a beginner’s waterboarding, but you panic, you know. I didn’t want to wreck the take or anything so I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, please tell me they’re going to stop pouring water soon’.”
You’ll be pleased to know that they did.
When Andrew Robinson was cast as Garak, a Cardassian spy-turned-tailor, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he had some serious preparation to do because, as he told Star Trek Magazine, he “had no idea what that was”.
So to really get to grips with the character he was playing and truly understand what was going on instead his head, Robinson decided to start writing a diary as Garak.
“And then I started going to conventions… and I started reading from the diary and the fans, the audiences loved it,” he continued. “So I started writing more, and I started crafting it more and, like a lot of people, I’ve always wanted to write a novel.”
And that’s exactly what Robinson did.
“That’s when I started working [it] into a novel. Then the people at Simon and Schuster, the publisher, agreed to let me do it, and it was a bit of a big deal because I was the first actor to write a novel without what they call a ghost writer, or with someone else writing it for me.”
Robinson’s A Stitch In Time: Star Trek Deep Space Nine is currently available to buy, the book detailing why Garak was banished from his home planet and why he chose to spend his exile on Deep Space Nine.
Now that’s what you call commitment.
Convincing audiences that you really are a super villain is no mean feat, but Lois & Clark’s John Shea was certainly up for the challenge.
To bury himself deep in the mind of Lex Luthor, one of Superman’s greatest enemies, the 69-year-old dedicated his spare time to studying Nietzsche, according to TV Tropes, the German philosopher who focused on questions surrounding truth and morality.
The Übermensch, which literally means Superman in German, was a concept devised by Nietzsche, and the Oxford English dictionary defines it as: “The ideal superior man of the future who could rise above conventional Christian morality to create and impose his own values.”
Shea also reportedly paid a visit to John Jay College of Criminal Justice as Lex Luthor to receive an actual medical diagnosis for his character’s condition.
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