To immerse themselves in their respective roles, the talents always have their own methods. Astonishing sources of inspiration too, sometimes unusual, which are not obvious.
To compose their characters, the actors and actresses logically draw from a multitude of inspirations: personal experiences, sometimes more or less happy moreover; Sens of observation; interviews with specialists if the role requires it, etc. Basically, nothing but very classic.
In this panel, the actors of the extreme, from the Method Acting occupy a very special place. We obviously think of Robert de Niro for example. Trained at the Actors Studio, he is a notorious perfectionist, totally embracing his roles, who does not hesitate to learn the saxophone for the musical New York, New York; to live alongside steel miners for Voyage au bout de l’enfer (1978); to gain thirty kilos to play a boxer on the decline in Raging Bull (1980); or to learn the Latin mass for the purposes of Bloody Confessions.
Besides that, there are amazing sources of inspiration in these talents; influences, sometimes unusual, which are absolutely not obvious.
Al Pacino was inspired by Meryl Streep to create Tony Montana
Trained in the “method” specific to the Actors Studio, Al Pacino is known for delivering a very intense and physical acting. His approach, which allowed him to slip into the shoes of some of the greatest roles in the history of American cinema – made him an ideal that inspired – and still inspires – a whole generation of apprentice actors and directors. Among his legendary roles is obviously Tony Montana.
It’s hard to imagine for a moment Brian de Palma’s Scarface without its main performer: Al Pacino delivers a performance so bigger than life with his monstrous slaughter and his punchlines that it has become cult. A character who has even become iconic, setting the standard for 80s gangster films.
In a fascinating article published by Empire in 2011, the actor evoked precisely his transformation for this role, recalling in particular that Steven Bauer, of Cuban origin, had helped him a lot to find the adequate accent. He also drew a lot of inspiration from a legendary Panamanian boxer, Roberto Duran : “there was a tawny side to him which corresponded to my character”.
Much more surprisingly, he also admitted to having been inspired by Meryl Streep, in his film Sophie’s Choice: “I was very inspired by the work of Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice. I found that her way to get involved in the role of someone from another country and another world was particularly fine, committed and… courageous.” Summoning the delicacy of Meryl Streep to compose a character like Tony Montana, you had to think about it.
Meryl Streep was inspired by Clint Eastwood in “The Devil Wears Prada”
Far from his purely dramatic roles which made him famous, Meryl Streep jubilantly tried a completely different register in the comedy The Devil Wears Prada, in which she lent her features to the cruel and tyrannical Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine Runway.
If her character is strongly reminiscent of Anna Wintour, head of Vogue magazine, the actress decided not to play a pale copy, refusing in particular to take the British accent. For her performance, she also drew inspiration from Diana Vreeland, the previous editor-in-chief of Vogue; and Liz Tilberis, the manager of Harper’s Bazaar.
Surprisingly, she also quoted Clint Eastwood’s composition in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as inspiration, to create and modulate his character’s voice: “He never, ever, ever raises his voice; everyone has to bend down to listen to him, which automatically makes him the most powerful person in the room.” A compliment that would surely please Blondin, an effectively taciturn character, always fueling the economy of words. But hits the mark every time. Like Miranda.
Iwan Rheon was inspired by Denis la malice for his Game of Thrones character
In Game of Thrones, Iwan Rheon camped the ignoble Ramsay Bolton. In terms of barbarism, torture, sadism, this monster, without filter and without empathy, he won the palm of abjection. He pretended to save Theon to better take away all his dignity, he killed Rickon as if on a hunting trip, raped Sansa, eliminated his own father and fed his stepmother and little brother to his dogs.
In April 2016, the actor confided to the New York Times his sources of inspiration to create his character: Heath Ledger’s Joker, a touch of singer Liam Gallagher from the group Oasis, mixed with a hint of the comic book character Denis la Malice. Curious and strange cocktail to tell the truth, even if the reference to Denis can be taken for his dirty kid side always ready to play pranks. Even horrible and fatal as in the series.
Daniel Day Lewis was inspired by Eminem for Gangs of New York
Daniel Day Lewis or Method Acting at its peak. To better immerse himself in his character, the terrifying Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, Lewis spent all his time dressed in the clothes and costumes of his character, including outside the film sets. The problem is that these were clothes worn in the middle of the 19th century, not really made to keep you warm…
Result of the races for the actor: he contracted severe pneumonia. When the production asked him to wear warm clothes and especially to treat himself with medication, he refused, on the grounds that it would not help him to remain immersed in his character and his time. By dint of insistence, he ended up accepting the drugs.
The most amazing thing is that Lewis confided that music had played an important role in making him fit into Bill’s clothes, as he said in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2003 then at Telegraph in 2007. With a predilection for the music of… Eminem!
“Yeah, I used to listen to music every morning, around 5 a.m., especially the song ‘The Way I Am’. I’ve admired it for a while. I’m always looking for music that might be useful for a . It bypasses the intellect in a particular way. With this film, I realized that I was listening to Eminem more than usual.” We would not have associated the monstrous (and obviously brilliant) Bill the butcher with Eminem in any case. Hats off to the artist!
Chris Pratt was inspired by dolphins for his character in “Jurassic World”
We could see Chris Pratt fidgeting in all directions and sweating from the shirt in Jurassic World, the reference was not necessarily obvious. But why not. In an interview given to GQ in May 2015, the actor revealed a new technique, which consists of thinking of an animal that the embodied character would look like, then determining which part of the body would move first according to this idea, to help the actor or actress move in space. Pratt thus determined that for Owen Grady, the most appropriate animal was the dolphin: “they move with their foreheads” he explained.
Johnny Depp is inspired by Pépé the polecat for Jack Sparrow
In his defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard, which lasted 6 weeks, Johnny Depp often discussed his career at length, including anecdotes. Like the one where he recounted the creation of his cult character Jack Sparrow.
“I had met the Disney teams who had offered me the script for a film, Hidalgo [NDR : qui sera réalisé par Joe Johnston et produit par la filiale de Disney, Buena Vista], I read the script, and I found that this film was not for me. But I wanted to meet them because at that time I had my daughter who was 2-3 years old, and for three years I watched nothing but animated films, cartoons, Tex Avery to Bugs Bunny.
“I received the script for Pirates of the Caribbean in 2002, and somewhere in my mind I saw the opportunity to mix different characters like those from the cartoons, like Coyote from Beep Beep and Coyote, when he takes a huge rock on his head which smashes him, before finding him again in the next scene where he wears a bandage on his skull.
So I started thinking about those kinds of things that were found in cartoons, and integrating them into the character composition, so that I could control the suspension of credulity. […] By doing this, I said to myself that this character could be as well received from a child of 5 years, as from an adult of 45, 65 or 85 years “.
We should also add that in the catalog of his cartoonish inspirations figure prominently that of Pépé le polecat. Just like him, Jack Sparrow is often incredibly lucky to get out of the worst situations.
Tom Hardy was inspired by the self-proclaimed King of the Gypsies to create the voice of Bane
A completely bald head, a terrifying metal mask, massive musculature like a minotaur… and a cave voice. If the character of Bane camped by Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises – remained anchored in the memory, it is partly thanks to the so particular intonation of the character. A metallic timbre, disembodied, tinged with an accent almost impossible to identify, forged from scratch by its interpreter.
But how did he go about crafting the voice? Interviewed by Wiredthe actor had mentioned the way in which he had suggested this track to Christopher Nolan, on the set of The Dark Knight Rises. “Bane is a character who has Latin origins, which is not my case,” he explained. “So I did some research and I found a man called Bartley Gorman, who is from the Roma community. They call him ‘King of the Gypsies’. He is a boxer and he fights with his bare hands.
I found that great. I showed it to [Christopher Nolan]“he said. “I told him we could either follow a Darth Vader lead, neutral villain tone, or we could try that. I had considered that possibility, just in case we needed to take into account the roots and origins of Bane (…). [Christopher Nolan] replied that we were going to go in that direction. We had fun with [cet accent]we made it a little smoother, and now people love it.”
Joaquin Phoenix was inspired by the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz to create his Joker
In the lead up to Joker’s release, and even after for that matter, there was a lot of talk about how Joaquin Phoenix got hold of the role. The actor had revealed having first worked on the laughter of the character, created from extensive research with people with personality disorders.
“I started with laughter. I watched videos of people with pathological laughter, a neurological syndrome that causes uncontrollable fits of laughter,” he explained. However, we have heard less of another source of inspiration, more surprising this one: the actor Ray Bolger, who played the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.
“There was one song in particular called ‘The Old Soft Shoe’ that he performed and I saw some a video, and there’s almost a weird arrogance in his movements and, really, I completely stole it from him,” Phoenix recounted. “He does this thing with his chin up. Choreographer Michael Arnold [sur le film] showed me that and tons of videos, and I focused on that one. It was the Joker, right? There is arrogance in him, really. That was probably the biggest influence.”
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You’ll never guess who inspired Al Pacino to create Tony Montana