There are many blogs and newspaper articles piling accolades on actor and musician 50 Cent’s efforts to transform himself physically from the muscular man that he normally is into an emaciated figure, suitable for the cancer-ridden character he portrays in the film Things Fall Apart. Many of the articles commend him for his commitment to method acting, comparing his actions to those by Christian Bale when he lost a lot of weight for the film The Machinist.
This made me think about method acting in general, and to wonder what it really meant. It’s great that a person transforms themselves physically to adapt for a role through weight loss or weight gain — but is that method acting? The Wise Geek tells us:
Actors who use the Method rely on using their own emotions from their past in order to bring new depth to a part…. There are numerous versions of the Method, taught by different teachers. The initial approach was to recall a past experience and immerse oneself in the emotion of that experience so as to apply it to the scene presently being undertaken.
In other words, method acting is about getting into a character on an emotional and intellectual level, not merely in getting your body to resemble that of the character you are portraying.
It is easy to see why the physical changes are so laudable — they involve tremendous physical work and the change is clear to the naked eye.
One should remember the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince — “…it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”