4 Things Actors Endured (To Play Terrible Real-Life People)

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4 Things Actors Endured (To Play Terrible Real-Life People)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Sometimes, acting is great, and an actor gets to play a fun and mostly straightforward character — like Mary Poppins or that guy from Facebook. For any actor (who isn't obsessed with method acting), such a role would be a relatively easy job to get done, with not a lot of introspection needed. Sometimes, though, a character will come along and test an actor's skill and ability in a pretty awful way. Sometimes, a character is so vile that it gets really hard being in the mindset of said character — like Stalin. Or, in a Venn diagram sort of way, that guy from Facebook.

Here are times actors had to suck it up more than usual while asking some deeper questions about their subjects, like "Is this person actually a good person," or "What if Hitler was more like a 10-year-old boy?"

For Charlize Theron, Playing Megyn Kelly Was Harder Than Portraying Aileen Wuornos

Yeah, Theron actually said she found it easier to play a serial killer than to portray the Fox news anchor in that movie everyone immediately forgot about

While Bombshell ended up being kind of a dud, there’s no denying the solid acting of all the actors here, Theron included. It might not be her best role — The Guardian referred to it as a bit too “studied,” and I tend to agree  — but it was still a fine portrayal of a woman the world has come to know as the journalistic equivalent of a lukewarm wannabe shock jock. It was, however, a role that Theron was hesitant to sign up for. 

“(Megyn Kelly) is incredibly well-known, and I’ve never played anybody that’s on that level. I’ve played real people, but people that nobody knows about. There was less pressure when I did those. I was just really scared, too, because I honestly knew her so superficially. She’s conflicting.”

When asked how hard it could possibly have been since she had played Aileen Wuornos back in 2003 (and won an Oscar for it), Theron responded:  “This was harder. You forget sometimes — all of us do this — we think we know people, we have our preconceived ideas of them. As an actor, you have to have that ability to put all of that aside and do research, and to actually find out about somebody.”

Theron went on to say that there were things she found in her research on who Megyn Kelly was that bothered and challenged her quite a bit. We wonder if it was that time Kelly advocated body-shaming as a thing that works and people should totally do it (please don’t). Or maybe it was that time Kelly pretended not to know why blackface is racist. So many upsetting things to mention here that, in retrospect, describing Theron’s performance in Bombshell as “studied” is, in context, really just a compliment.

Playing Miranda Priestly Made Meryl Streep So Depressed She Quit Method Acting

Yes, Miranda Priestly isn’t a real person (we know), but the character is based on the very real British fashion editor Anna Wintour. People who have worked with Wintour in the Vogue office corroborated some of the eccentric behaviors the character did in the movie. Like demanding her assistant get some unattainable Harry Potter book (pronto!). Or that everyday dry cleaning business.

"Oh, the dry cleaning came, like every morning. It has been documented, every night after she had been out she would stop by her dry cleaners on the way to work. {...} Dry cleaning is paramount to her existence; nothing gets soiled."

Boy, she sounds swell. Meryl Streep, of course, played the hell out of Priestly —a character that would further propagate the unfortunate “Girlboss” stereotype all around the world. It’s like people sometimes don’t understand movies very well.

Ugh, we totally relate to Streep when she says that playing hard-nosed Girlboss Priestly made her feel a hundred percent depressed.

“It was horrible! I was in my trailer. I could hear them all rocking and laughing. I was so depressed! I said, ‘Well, it's the price you pay for being boss!’ That's the last time I ever attempted a Method thing!”

Even her co-stars could pick up how miserable she was. Said Emily Blunt: “Meryl is so gregarious and fun as hell; in some ways, it wasn't the most fun for her having to remove herself. It wasn't like she was unapproachable; You could go up to her and say, ‘Oh my God, the funniest thing just happened,’ and she'd listen, but I don't know if it was the most fun for her to be on set being that way.”

Turns out that being an icy jerk to people only makes you feel worse. Who knew?

Breathing And Meditation Exercises Helped Zac Efron Get Through Playing Ted Bundy

Interesting how this list consists of three pretty so-so movies starring A-list actors absolutely bringing it. It’s almost like people don’t want to remember vileness, which seems to very much be the case with Ted Bundy because, gosh, apparently, people just won’t stop romanticizing the guy and forgetting what a giant turd he was.

And it sure didn’t help having Zac Efron portray him in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile:

The actor himself had some reservations when the role came along — his mom literally looked scared when he told her he was considering playing Douchebag Ted — but Efron wanted to push himself. And push he did. He lost some weight, had to learn how to talk with a specially-made set of teeth, and he watched some “heavy stuff” which could mean anything, and also we don’t want to know. 

On how he coped with playing BS Bundy: “I did breathing and meditation. I think that’s the only way. I really love TM, transcendental meditation. I did TM on the way home … Really, you can’t ever really let go of all of it. There’s always a little bit of you that knows tomorrow you’re Ted.”

A feeling no one should ever have, really.

Taika Waititi Made Hitler As Unrealistic As Possible In Order To Play Him (And He Really Didn’t Want To)

There are possibly very few people in this world who would willingly play the character of Adolf Hitler. Or, you know, that last sentence is just something I say out loud from time to time to convince myself that humanity isn’t all that bad. Chances are good that a shocking number of people would probably want to do just that for various and mostly unsavory reasons. Director Taika Waititi isn’t one of those people, and he only did it because the studio said it was him as Hitler or they wouldn’t fund his movie. What an ultimatum. 

JoJo Rabbit is a comedy-drama about a 10-year-old boy who is part of the Hitler Youth group but discovers that his mom is hiding a Jewish girl in their house. The young boy is conflicted and has to deal with his imaginary friend —  a comical version of Hitler played by Waititi, quite splendidly.

Waititi said he felt totally ashamed having to put on that uniform, but that he ended up telling himself he was only playing a 10-year-old boy’s idea of Hitler, and that he was in full control of the character. So he made him near powerless and utterly comical (and that he did). 

"I didn't base him on anything I'd seen about Hitler before. I just made him a version of myself that happened to have a bad haircut and a sh**ty little mustache. And a mediocre German accent."

He said that he felt the best way to approach the whole thing was to do the opposite of realism because no one wants to see that. “He was such a f***ing c**t, and everyone knows that.”

Too right.

Zanandi is on Twitter and also on that other platform.

Thumbnail Image: Netflix, Fox Searchlight Pictures

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