Jared Leto terrorised his co-stars during production of Suicide Squad
Getting cast as the Joker has become one of the most prestigious honours in Hollywood and is seen as an opportunity for actors to show off the true depths of their talent. When Jared Leto landed the role in 2016’s Suicide Squad, the actor clearly saw it as his ticket to an Oscar and spent months in the headlines for his excessive method acting antics.
His behaviour towards his co-stars was both bizarre and downright inappropriate, and included sending ‘gifts’ to their trailers such as bullets, dead animals, and used condoms, which is almost certainly against the law.
Jim Carrey bullied everyone on set when filming Man on the Moon
Andy Kaufman was known for his relentless, confrontational approach to comedy, and when Jim Carrey was cast as the comedian in biopic Man on the Moon, he decided to stay in character for the entire production. Things stopped being funny pretty quickly, as Carrey’s behaviour deteriorated to the point where it was unclear if it would even be possible to complete the film.
In one particularly explosive incident, Jerry Lawler – a wrestler who was involved in an altercation with Kaufman in real life – lost his cool and physically attacked Carrey after his relentless taunting went too far.
Jeremy Strong kept playing a kazoo on set while filming The Trial of the Chicago 7
Jeremy Strong is infamous for the extreme lengths he goes to for his roles (such as tearing up one of the only photos he had of his dead mother in order to get emotional for a scene) and his antics on set have raised more than a few eyebrows. An article in the New Yorker revealed that many of Strong’s colleagues on TV’s Succession find him incredibly difficult to work with, but it was an incident from the production of The Trial of the Chicago 7 that sounds most annoying.
According to Aaron Sorkin, the film’s director, Strong kept incessantly playing a kazoo on set whilst his costar Frank Langella was trying to deliver his lines, which must have got old incredibly fast.
Daniel Day-Lewis treated the crew like slaves during production for My Left Foot
The poster boy for method acting, Daniel Day-Lewis’ intense commitment to immersing himself in his characters has earned him a slew of awards and critical acclaim. However, the actor’s refusal to break character made everyone else’s life a nightmare during production for My Left Foot. The fact-based film stars Day-Lewis as wheelchair-bound quadriplegic Christy Brown, and the actor insisted on being carried around and spoon-fed, even when the cameras weren’t rolling.
Jamie Dornan stalked a woman to get into character for The Fall
Actors will often get into the right headspace for their roles by spending some time ‘living’ as their character, adopting their routines and behaviours. For obvious reasons, most actors won’t take this approach when they’re playing a serial killer, but Jamie Dornan still gave it a go for his role in The Fall. The Irish actor impulsively decided to follow a woman off a train and followed her for several streets to understand what it feels like to be a murderer, an incredibly unethical act that could have led to serious trauma.
Benedict Cumberbatch bullied Jesse Plemons about his weight whilst filming The Power of the Dog
The Power of the Dog, which was released on Netflix in 2021, stars Benedict Cumberbatch as abusive rancher Phil Burbank. Cumberbatch resolved to stay in character for the duration of production, which inevitably led to him behaving unpleasantly to everyone on set. Cumberbatch’s co-star Jesse Plemons was singled out for particular torment, with the Sherlock actor exclusively referring to him as ‘big boy.’
Plemons later confessed that the relentless abuse got got under his skin, which is pretty understandable considering Cumberbatch’s behaviour amounted to little more than workplace bullying.
Shia LaBeouf showed up to set drunk every day making Lawless
Shia LaBouef has built up a reputation for going full method, and when he was cast as a moonshiner in 2012’s Lawless the actor decided the best way to make his performance authentic was to show up to set sloshed every day. His constant inebriation led to what he later admitted was some pretty “aggressive” behaviour, causing his costar Mia Wasikowska to call her attorneys in an attempt to bail from the project.
Denzel Washington made another actor waterboard him for Safe House
It feels obligatory for every movie about the CIA to contain at least one waterboarding scene, and 2012’s Safe House is no exception. To make the film’s torture sequence as realistic as possible, Denzel Washington insisted that he be waterboarded for real.
Whilst his devotion to his craft is commendable, torturing someone – whether they’ve volunteered or not – is likely to lead to have a lasting psychological impact, and it isn’t fair to put someone in that position.
Halle Berry refused to wash during production for Jungle Forever
Halle Berry got her break in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, and was determined not to let the opportunity go to waste. Lee had been reluctant to cast the aspiring actress, feeling that she was too pretty and clean-cut to convincingly play a street prostitute.
Berry spent weeks hanging out in some seriously unsavoury places to develop the grit that Lee was looking for, and he eventually relented and awarded her the role. However, everyone on set probably wished he hadn’t, as Berry proceeded to stay in character by refusing to wash for the entirety of production.
Forrest Whittaker’s behaviour filming The Last King of Scotland made his family stop speaking to him
Successful acting involves becoming your character, at least temporarily, but when your character is a genocidal monster this can pose problems. To prepare for his role as Idi Amin, Forrest Whitaker immersed himself in the Ugandan dictator’s life to the point that he started bringing the character home with him.
Unsurprisingly, Whittaker’s family weren’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of spending time with a murderous tyrant, and stopped talking to the actor until he’d finished the film.