Each actor has their process. And certainly, some processes are more intense than others. There are countless on-set stories about the dramatic lengths actors have gone to get into character — whether physically, mentally, or both. And the most notorious can go down in legend. But in recent years, the method game has also been a bigger source of criticism, especially with a few high-profile artists coming forward to criticize the process. Only a few months ago, Mads Mikkelsen railed against the style, calling it “bullshit” and “madness”. In addition, Samuel L. Jackson detailed his own distaste for what is often referred to as The Method, explaining in an interview with Collider that acting isn’t something you’re supposed to get into and get “hurt”. Now, in a recent interview, David Harbor spoke out against the method acting, going so far as to call it “dangerous”, especially with regard to young actors and their experiences.
During his conversation with GQ magazine, Harbor detailed a story from his past where he explored “The Method” when he took on the role of Macbeth. The stranger things The actor said that because of this training, he considered injuring or killing an animal to understand the Shakespearean persona and live vicariously through that experience. Luckily he didn’t, but looking back now, he recognizes how “stupid” and downright “dangerous” it was to have those thoughts for the sake of acting. Additionally, Harbor doesn’t think such a process will “produce good work,” despite a notorious history of acclaimed actors producing extraordinary performances using The Method.
Here’s how Harbor explained it in his confessional interview:
“When I was younger – it’s so embarrassing – but I remember playing this famous Scottish king. And being like, ‘I’m going to kill a cat’ or something: ‘I’m going to kill something to find out what that’s murder.’ I didn’t really, of course. [method acting] dumb stuff is dangerous, and it doesn’t produce good work.”
While it’s ultimately subjective as to whether the work is actually good or worth the intensive effort put into bringing these performances to the stage or screen, Harbor’s comments hint at the long history of actors earning more. of attention for the drastic or near disastrous efforts they have gone to to bring them to the masses. Certainly, there are outstanding examples of actors who have done extreme things in the name of The Method and produced incredible work, including Daniel Day Lewis, which the interviewer is talking about. While the Hellboy notes that the former Oscar winner is “an extraordinary actor who captivates and fascinates me”, he also notes that “when he explains his process, it seems absurd to me”. Ultimately, The Method is a world of actors that Harbor has criticized before and will likely remain critical of in the future – and if you’ve seen him in stranger thingsyou know he produces great work without it.
There are still several famous actors who have made a point of continuing to practice the method, including Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprioand Jared Leto. Also, although it is not an outright method, Jeremy Strong has deserved notice for the extreme lengths he has gone to to get into character for his recent acclaimed performances. But especially since stories of inappropriate on-set behavior are more likely to elicit plot scorn these days, The Method is also more likely than ever to incur the ire of established artists. Harbor is just the latest actor to speak out against The Method and how it can corrupt the minds of actors in extreme, wild, and ultimately insane ways.
You can catch Harbor in Season 4 of stranger things available now on Netflix.
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