Jamie Dornan Stalked A Woman To Prepare For A Role & 9 Other Actors Who Pushed The Limits For Their Characters

There has to come a moment when an actor decides if it is worth it. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jamie Dornan admitted that he stalked a woman while preparing for his role as a serial killer in the series, The Fall. Dornan shared, "The first series, I did do a couple of things to try to get inside [his mind]. On the tube, which is our underground system... I, like, followed a woman off the train one day to see what it felt like to pursue someone like that... It felt kind of exciting, in a really sort of dirty way. I’m sort of not proud of myself. But I do honestly think I learned something from it, because I’ve obviously never done any of that. It was intriguing and interesting to enter that process of ‘What are you following her for?’ and ‘What are you trying to find out?’”

Dornan admitted that he wasn't entirely comfortable with what he did and insisted that he doesn't "want to be in that headspace all the time. Certain actors would but I remember thinking I was in over my head when they cast me."

It is true, many of our greatest actors have been wholly dedicated to preparing for their role, to the point of causing physical and psychological turmoil. Here is a list of some other actors who stepped out of their comfort zone for their craft and have pushed the limits with their method acting.

Joaquin Phoenix


In a 2014 interview with The Independent, Phoenix said, ”I’m not a method actor, I don’t even know what method acting is, but I think that you try, or at least I try, to stay in the world of the characters as much as possible.”

I think his roles prove otherwise. Phoenix famously walked around with a sword during the filming of Gladiator, only replied to ”J.R.” (Johnny Cash’s real name) during the filming of Walk The Line , not to mention the entire strange period of the mockumentary, I’m Still Here. I don’t think anyone really knows what happened with that.

Rooney Mara

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Rooney Mara could have gone to a couple clubs and dressed in all black for a few days to get a feel for her character Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but of course, that would not be enough. When she landed the coveted role, Mara lost weight, shaved her hair and eyebrows, and went to do all of her REAL facial piercings — all in one day. She also went to Stockholm by herself a few weeks before shooting to roam the streets in character and said, “When you have a weird haircut and no eyebrows and lots of piercings and you’re dressing like a boy, people don’t look at you, and I found it to be so freeing.”

Anne Hathaway

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Anne Hathaway delivered the performance of her life as Fantine in Les Miserables, which earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2012. The role required her to look emaciated, and she ate only dried oatmeal paste to drop 25 pounds. She shared with Vogue, “I had to be obsessive about it — the idea was to look near death… It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that’s who [my character] Fantine is anyway.” Her character didn’t leave her once the filming ended and she says she was in “a state of deprivation — physical and emotional.” She further explained, “I couldn’t react to the chaos of the world without being overwhelmed. It took me weeks till I felt like myself again.” That’s dedication.

Christian Bale


This Christian Bale’s film might not be well-known, but his work to get in character definitely is. He dropped over 60 pounds for his role as an insomniac in The Machinist, and images of him in his skeletal frame are a little bit frightening. He apparently wanted to lose even more weight, but his producers banned him from doing so for concerns of his health.

Heath Ledger


When people think of method acting going “too far” many now cite the tragedy of Heath Ledger. He was reported to have become obsessed with trying to capture the psychotic Joker, which led him to sleep less than two hours a night and constantly scribble into a journal as his demented character. A source on set told Fox News, “He would often come to the set to hang out even on his days off, freaking everyone out. Towards the end of filming, he was warned by people that he had gone too far, but it was almost like he couldn’t connect with those who cared for him anymore.”

Shia LaBeouf


Shia LaBeouf has been getting into some wild and strange antics as of late, and he has even named his method acting as a reason for being fired from a job. The line between real life and acting is very thin for the actor, who apparently cut his own face for his role in Fury and dropped acid for his role in Charlie Countryman. Seems like this extreme method will definitely be a part of his style for a while and he’s shared the he looks up to actors like Sean Penn, who was “actually strapped up to that [electric] chair in Dead Man Walking.”

Adrien Brody


Adrien Brody’s role as a Polish Jew hiding from the Nazis in The Pianist got him a Best Actor Oscar, and part of that was his total dedication to the life of solitude. Brody says, “I gave up my New York apartment, sold my car and turned off my cell phone,” during the 8 months that he was filming throughout Europe. The actor also shrunk down to 130 pounds and shared it was ”excruciating” and he was “extremely weak” but that’s what director Roman Polanski wanted. “He wanted it to be truthful.”

Jared Leto


To play the captivating and tragic Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto had no qualms about fully immersing himself into the role. He told ShortList of how he lived in character, “I went to the supermarket [in drag], mainly to stare at food because I wasn’t eating, and I got lots of looks. Some were just like, ‘Wait, is that… that guy from films? Dressed as a woman?’ But I also got a look that was like, ‘I don’t know who or what that is, but I don’t f–king like it.’ A judgement, a condemnation.”

Hilary Swank


To play the role of the transgender man Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry, Swank lived as a man and cut her hair off a month before filming. She told Role Recall of her preparation, “I walked around trying to pass as a boy for five weeks before filming that movie… Seeing what worked and what didn’t work, and losing a bunch of body fat so that my face would be thinner. My neighbors thought that I was my cousin Billy from Iowa.”