Some actors have to torture themselves to get into character. For Marathon Man, Dustin Hoffman stayed up all night for two days just so he could look tired enough for a certain scene. All of the principal actors in Saving Private Ryan except for Matt Damon went through six days of Army training, so they would resent Damon on screen. We won't even tell you what Ned Beatty, Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds had to go through to prepare for Deliverance.
However, for some actors it' a little easier to prepare for a role because, well, they're basically playing themselves. Here's six actors who were in character long before they actually got the roles.
R. Lee Ermey as Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket
The Role: A loud, terrifying, tough-as-nails drill instructor.
Why this wasn't a stretch:
You remember Lewis Gosset Jr.' badass drill sergeant from An Officer and a Gentleman
? Well R. Lee Ermey was the guy who coached Gossett Jr. on the role. Stanley Kubrick then hired Ermey, a retired drill instructor himself, to do the same thing with Full Metal Jacket
. After hearing Ermey spew a sphincter-clinching string of obscenities in rehearsal, Kubrick decided to hire him to play the role instead.
Did we mention that he also let him write his own dialogue?
The result was Sgt. Hartman, a thundering insult machine that could destroy a man' will with the sheer force of his words, most of which involved accusations of sodomy. Hartman could mold a man' soul into Silly Putty, pick it up, flatten it out with his bare hands and use it to copy "Marmaduke."
R. Lee Ermey is Sgt. Hartman, always will be, and God help the man who disagrees. Or not, because God's afraid of him, too.
John Belushi as Robert "Bluto" Blutarsky in National Lampoon's Animal House
The Role: A raucous, hard-partying slob.
Why this wasn't a stretch:
From what we've heard of his personal life, the Animal House crew could have gotten all the footage they needed just by following Belushi around for his usual Wednesday night. We suspect the only reason they didn't was because they needed him to tone it down to make the character believable.
Director John Landis talked about the first time he invited Belushi to his hotel room to meet about the film. According to Landis, Belushi burst in the door "like a tornado," picked up the phone and ordered enough food and alcohol for 20 people. So, yeah, watching him play Bluto, you don't get the feeling that in between scenes Belushi was off in the corner, in the lotus position, softly reading to his cast mates from the Book of Mormon.
There's a reason every fraternity in America has that poster of Belushi in his "College" sweatshirt, chugging a bottle of Jack Daniels. He was the patron saint of college partiers. Unfortunately, Belushi' own real-life tragic end served as a reminder to a generation of frat guys: that shit you were doing at 22 isn't so funny at age 33.
Courtney Love as Althea Leasure Flynt in The People vs. Larry Flynt
The Role: A drugged-up, foul-mouthed skank.