METHOD ACTING: Stepping into another’s shoes

Mark Lee and Kumar take a stab at living someone else’s life, as some top actors have famously done

METHOD ACTING: Stepping into another’s shoes
METHOD ACTING: Stepping into another’s shoes
11 May 2016

METHOD ACTING: Stepping into another’s shoes

Photos: Dion Tang, Hoods Inc., TPG, artistes’ social media
Video: Vina Chia, Kimberly Tay

In two episodes of Double Trouble last week, we saw intrepid hosts Mark Lee and Kumar try out a day in each other’s life: Kumar played papa to the younger two of Mark’s three children, and Mark performed an entire stand-up comedy routine — in drag, no less.

“It's not easy, because when you pretend to be a pretty and elegant girl, you cannot (exaggerate it),” said Mark, who has performed stand-up comedy routines as himself. “Sometimes when you talk you forget and you (return to being) a man.”

Singapore’s best-known drag queen spoke highly of Mark’s valiant attempt done at a Clarke Quay nightclub. “I really salute him for wanting to do drag,” Kumar said. “People will only understand what people are going through when they are in their shoes.”

Meanwhile, Kumar, the unattached bachelor, performed admirably as a parent for a day to Marksonn, 4, and Calynn, 2, looking after them as they romped in a kids gym.

According to Catherine Ng, Mark’s wife, Kumar did quite well: Halfway through lunch Marksonn said he needed the loo, and Kumar ordered Calynn to sit still before he rushed the boy out, and then he waited for him and washed his hands. “It was quite OK,” Catherine said. “I was curious about whether they would obey him.”

Kumar had his hands full though: The two kids kept him busy with their boundless energy, but luckily for him he’s experienced — sort of. “It's a very bad comparison, but I brought up my puppy, so it's the same kind of attention you need to give,” Kumar said.

“But they're so fickle, they want to do 10 things at one time,” he went on. “You really have to pay attention, you cannot lose focus.”

However, Kumar doesn’t consider Marksonn and Calynn particularly difficult. “They're not naughty, they're just children,” he said.

Though it wasn’t acting per se, the entire exercise of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes got us thinking about outstanding examples of method acting, when thespians went as far as to live as their characters for the sake of authenticity. Read on for more.

Rui En in If Only I Could (2016)
Rui En in If Only I Could (2016)
11 May 2016

Rui En in If Only I Could (2016)

Fat suits might have been enough to transform Rui En into a dowdy, long-suffering housewife who travels back in time in If Only I Could, but the actress didn’t like that her face and limbs remained disproportionately slim. So she took it a step further and put on 4 kg.

Though it didn’t put her on par with Bridget Jones actress Renee Zellweger (who gained 13 kg) or Christian Bale (who went from 84 kg to 55 kg to 99 kg going from The Machinist to Batman Returns), it did complete Rui En’s ‘natural’ look, which the actress embraced.

“This is the first time I don’t have to report for hair and makeup, and I can wake up and come straight on set,” she said. “So I’m looking forward to it, I can sleep in!”

If Only I Could debuts May 31, 2016, 9 pm on Channel 8.

Related:
Rui En gets ‘dolled down’ for If Only I Could  

Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (2016)
Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (2016)
11 May 2016

Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (2016)

The dedicated method acting practitioner has probably done it all, from dressing in drag off set while playing a drag queen in Dallas Buyers Club to hanging out with junkies to play one in Requiem for a Dream.

But as the new Joker in the upcoming Suicide Squad, Jared first met his co-stars while carrying in a pig carcass, which, understandably, freaked them out. He also sent his co-stars gifts of dead animals and other inappropriate items to acclimatise them to Joker’s unpredictable but extreme nature, and spent time with institutionalised psychopathic criminals.

It got so intense that Will Smith, who plays the anti-hero Deadshot, remarked that he never actually met Jared Leto while working on the film for 6 months.

Related:
Jared Leto halted whole Suicide Squad as The Joker 
Jared Leto met psychopaths for Suicide Squad 
Actors who took on gender-bending roles in film and TV

Robert De Niro in The Wizard of Lies (2016)
Robert De Niro in The Wizard of Lies (2016)
11 May 2016

Robert De Niro in The Wizard of Lies (2016)

The actor lived in Sicily for months to learn the local dialects prior to his role in the 1974 movie The Godfather II, and once you go method you can’t go back — he went on to work as a licensed cab driver before filming Taxi Driver (1976) and entered actual boxing matches to prepare for Raging Bull (1980).

While filming scenes in New York last October for the HBO film The Wizard of Lies, based on fraudster Bernie Madoff, Robert was seen looking exactly like the former stockbroker, from his long white hair to his portly build. He even seemed to channel his subject’s smug attitude when he gave curt replies during interviews while promoting the movie The Intern last year with Anne Hathaway.

Related:
Robert De Niro claims link between vaccines and autism 

Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw (2015)
Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw (2015)
11 May 2016

Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw (2015)

The Donnie Darko actor went all in with his role as a struggling boxer and widowed father estranged from his daughter, and pulled off a shocking transformation on screen: He had lost 13.6 kg for the 2014 crime thriller Nightcrawler, in which he looked lanky and gaunt, and by the next year he had put on 20 kg for Southpaw in a role that was initially intended for rapper Eminem.

To prepare to play the fictional junior-middleweight champ Billy Hope, Jake learned to box — all the punches thrown in the film are real — and he underwent a 5-month training regimen that comprised two 3-hour gym sessions and 2,000 sit-ups — every day. The workouts were so intense that he vomited in the gym and nearly fainted, according to Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua.

“I didn't know how to box and I was just terrified that I'd look like an idiot in the ring,” Jake said of his insistence on picking up the sport. “I don't think you can claim you're a boxer without knowing how it feels to be hit.”

Related:
Hard-working Jake Gyllenhaal 
Jake Gyllenhaal 'terrified' of Southpaw role 
Jake Gyllenhaal: I felt naked filming Southpaw  

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant (2015)
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant (2015)
11 May 2016

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant (2015)

The actor, who finally snagged an Oscar after what seemed like eternity, had to push himself to extremes for the honour. Playing a 19th-century fur trapper struggling to survive in the American wilderness, Leo slept in animal carcasses to stay warm while filming in the frigid Canadian and Argentinian climate. And he ate raw bison liver because he was concerned the fake jelly one wouldn’t look convincing enough on film.

“I certainly don't eat raw bison liver on a regular basis,” he said. “When you see the movie, you'll see my reaction to it, because Alejandro (González Iñárritu, the director) kept it in. .... It was an instinctive reaction.”

Related:
Leonardo DiCaprio ate raw bison for The Revenant 
Leonardo DiCaprio slept in animal carcasses 
Leonardo DiCaprio talks climate change in Oscar speech 

Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
11 May 2016

Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

Not only did the 2015 Academy Award Best Picture winner employ just 16 visible cuts, making the entire film seem like one long take, the plot got intensely meta with its characters — Michael Keaton (who appeared as Batman in 1989 and 1992) plays a has-been actor known best for a decade-old turn as a superhero called Birdman, while notoriously difficult method actor Edward Norton plays … a notoriously difficult method actor. An entire Reddit thread is dedicated to debating whether Edward was just portraying himself in Birdman.

According to director Alejandro González Iñárritu, for one scene in which Edward and Michael rehearse a script, Edward started making comments about the screenplay, exactly as his character was supposed to do. Talk about being a living satire.

Related:
Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel big winners at 2015 Oscars 

Special mention: Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Snowden (2016)
Special mention: Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Snowden (2016)
11 May 2016

Special mention: Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Snowden (2016)

Last year the 3rd Rock from the Sun actor flew to Moscow for a secret meeting with exiled National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to learn more about his subject, and the most notable change that came out of that was Joseph’s Snowden voice.

The actor raised the pitch of his baritone and flattened his intonation to imitate the computer analyst, and delivered his lines in the Oliver Stone–directed biopic in what MTV.com unceremoniously dubbed “Flat Nerd Voice.”

Related:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I'm a proud American 
Joseph Gordon-Levitt supports Edward Snowden  

Special mention: Jeanette Aw in The Dream Makers 2 (2015)
Special mention: Jeanette Aw in The Dream Makers 2 (2015)
11 May 2016

Special mention: Jeanette Aw in The Dream Makers 2 (2015)

The newly crowned Star Awards Best Actress didn’t drive herself into an abyss in order to portray troubled second-rate actress Zhao Fei’er in the year-end blockbuster drama, The Dream Makers 2, but over the course of filming she found herself succumbing to the negative emotions and stress of the intense role.

Jeanette wrote on Instagram early this year that she had recovered from the dark period and it had made her stronger. “I learnt so much about Depression and even experienced it myself,” she explained, “as much as I was aware of the changes going on within and trying so hard to keep my emotions in check.” She reminded her followers to “be sensitive to the loved ones in your life” and not “belittle the sadness and label depressed individuals as weaklings.”

Catch up on The Dream Makers 2 here 

Related:
SA2016: Qi Yuwu, Jeanette Aw bag top honours 
The Dream Makers 2: Of weddings & babies 

Find out more about Double Trouble here.

Catch a new episode of Double Trouble for free every Monday to Friday here or binge-watch the entire series by subscribing to Toggle Prime.

Catch up on previous Toggle Originals series A Selfie’s Tale and Run Rachael Run.

WATCH:
Kumar takes care of Mark Lee's children for a day!- Double Trouble Interview 2

Related:
Mark Lee and Kumar: Double the trouble, double the fun 

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