6 Unexpected Inspirations Behind Iconic Performances

Acting is a weird job, you guys.
6 Unexpected Inspirations Behind Iconic Performances

Despite what the filmography of Larry the Cable Guy might have you believe, acting is a real art form. Great thespians don’t just show up, spout a bunch of lines, and then go home to their mansions made of award statuettes – great acting requires serious thought and hard work. Sometimes the inspirations behind our favorite performances are even a tad surprising, such as how … 

Giancarlo Esposito Used His Experience Appearing in Miami Vice to Create Gus Fring

Before he was known for playing villains like Gus Fring, Moff Gideon, and Gus Fring again –

– Giancarlo Esposito appeared in a number of roles that didn’t require him to slice up dudes with a rusty boxcutter. Like, as we’ve mentioned before, he once played Big Bird’s summer camp counselor Mickey. And shortly after that, he showed up in an episode of Miami Vice as a “mid-level” cartel guy who gets busted for having his lasagna-sized plateful of cocaine by Sonny Crockett. 

Weirdly, that performance, basically set in a neon-filled cartoon world, ended up aiding Esposito in the creation of Gus Fring – specifically one of his co-stars, Edward James Olmos, who played Lt. Castillo. According to Esposito, Olmos’ character was surprisingly “very laid back and very, very relaxed,” and in playing Fring, he “wanted to take it even further.”

Decades of Being Closeted Informed Kevin Conroy’s Iconic Batman Voice

Kevin Conroy is arguably the greatest Batman performer ever, and has voiced the Caped Crusader for nearly three decades, on TV in Batman the Animated Series, but also in video games, and the world’s most vengeful GPS app – not to mention, arguably the greatest Batman film of all-time.

Recently, Conroy penned a heart-wrenching story for this year’s DC Pride compilation; “Finding Batman,” which chronicles his past, including enduring his father’s death and the death of friends during the onset of the AIDS crisis, as well as his struggles with being a closeted gay man keeping his true self secret for the sake of his career.

Amazingly, these experiences all fed into Conroy’s take on his iconic take on the Dark Knight; not just because he was working through past trauma, like Bruce Wayne, but because, as Conroy puts it, Bruce wears a “mask of confidence to the world …and a private one racked by conflict and wounds.”  When it came time to find his voice for the part, after “thirty years of frustration, confusion, denial, love, yearning," he felt "Batman rising from deep within." 

Adam Sandler Based His Punch Drunk Love Character on Judd Apatow

Setting aside the abject pathos of Happy Gilmore’s ejection from the National Hockey League, Adam Sandler’s first real dramatic role was in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love, in which he plays Barry, a socially-awkward loner who falls for one of his sister’s co-workers. It’s easily the most romantic Sandler movie that in no way involves wedding singing.

While Sandler may not have had much of a process in creating characters like Billy Madison or Little Nicky, for Barry, Sandler tapped into several real-life inspirations. Apparently, Barry was based on Sandler’s brother and also Judd Apatow – who is now a mega-successful Hollywood filmmaker, but was once just a young dude who paired oversized sport coats with giant Frankenstein t-shirts.

According to Apatow, he used to be “terrible with women, just scared to death,” and can see how his behavior influenced the performance. So maybe one day Anderson will give us a sequel where Barry writes a blockbuster comedy about prolonged virginity.

Daniel Craig’s Knives Out Accent Was Inspired By a Historian Who Appears in Ken Burns Documentaries

Daniel Craig is no doubt best known for playing Great Britain’s favorite alcoholic sexual compulsive, but now he has another popular film franchise under his belt that in no way involves motorcycle chases or near-constant philandering; gentleman sleuth Benoit Blanc from Knives Out, and the upcoming Glass Onion. For the role, Craig ditched his native accent and adopted what can only be described as Columbo meets Foghorn Leghorn.

We don’t want to suggest that Craig’s process is limited to stealing affectations from random people he saw on PBS one night … but that’s pretty much what he did. Apparently, the script only called for a “very subtle southern accent,” but Craig borrowed his accent from historian Shelby Foote, who appears in Ken Burns’ The Civil War documentary series.

And if that guy had even attempted to solve a murder, maybe most of us wouldn’t have nodded off in the middle of the second episode. 

Joel Edgerton’s Green Knight Lord Was Based on YouTube Clips of Drunk British Actors

Disappointing families who thought they were paying to see a new, Medieval-set Muppet movie, The Green Knight is the recent critically-acclaimed arthouse fantasy (that was also seemingly a low-key remake of Willow). Towards the film’s end, Sir Gaiwan (played by Dev Patel) holes up in a castle owned by an unnamed Lord (played by Joel Edgerton). Because this isn’t a Hammer horror movie from 1975, he actually turns out to be friendly – very friendly, in fact.

So how did Edgerton prepare for the role? Luckily the internet is full of documentation of the modern-day equivalent of a spoiled feudal ruler: YouTube clips of drunk British celebrities. According to Edgerton, after being sent “clips of old British actors” by director David Lowery, he ended up “going down a YouTube wormhole” of screen acting legends giving inebriated TV interviews. At which point he decided to play the part like he’s “five sheets to the wind into an old school talk show.”

Frances McDormand’s Nomadland and Three Billboards Characters Were Styled After John Wayne

Nomadland, as far as we know, is the only Academy Award Best Picture winner to feature a scene in which its protagonist poops in a bucket (although we’d have to rewatch The Sound of Music to be totally sure). The film is a loose, mostly plot-less mood piece, undoubtedly held together by a central performance by the great Frances McDormand.  

Who did McDormand turn to in order to shape her take on a modern-day American drifter? Um, this guy:

Yup, John Wayne, AKA the Duke, AKA America’s racist uncle everyone wants to forget about. According to McDormand, her character, Fern, was not unlike Wayne’s character from The Searchers. And this wasn’t the first time McDormand cited Wayne as an influence, for her Oscar-winning role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, she even reportedly “used John Wayne’s walk.”

The takeaway here seems clear: name an airport after Frances McDormand.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter

Top Image: AMC/Lionsgate 

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?