"Method acting" is a technique where actors try and use real experiences from their own lives to bring them closer to the experience of their characters. There are many different ways to derive these memories, but sometimes there is no way for that. Amazingly, sometimes it’s the 100% real, raw emotions that are caught on camera. Check out these iconic scenes where the actors, in fact, were not acting at all:
1. Waxing Scene, The 40-Year-Old Virgin
No acting was required for this scene, when for the sake of comedy Steve Carell had his (rather hairy) chest hair waxed while his real pain was captured on camera. "I thought it would be funny for the guys who were watching it in the scene",
Carell said on The Graham Norton show. "Because there's no way you can replicate that - the horror that you're witnessing".
2. Fight Scene, Fight Club
Edward Norton was instructed by director David Fincher to hit Brad Pitt to make him 'connect' with him in the iconic scene. "Fincher came up to me and said, ‘Hit him', you know, 'connect with him somewhere.’
I didn’t know what to do and I hit him in the ear", Norton shared with Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon. “He says in the film: ‘Ow! Why the ear?’ Yeah, that was real”.
3. Door-Breaking Scene, The Shining
Actress Shelley Duvall has publicaly spoken about director Stanley Kubrick mistreatment of her during the filming of horror movie The Shining. The Iconic door-breaking scene took 3 days to film, during which actor Jack Nicholson broke nearly 60 doors, while Duvall remained in the dark about what was coming for her, and was in fact in real terror.
Working on the movie was “almost unbearable”, she told movie critic Roger Ebert in the 80s.
4. The Entire Movie, The Blair Witch Project
The actors in this indie film-turned-blockbuster were all first-time actors, and as the movie was supposed to be 'improvised', they were never given a script or any clear directions, and to had to find clues for their next filming locations.
The young cast was all food and sleep deprived, and the filmmakers used to scare them in the middle of the night to further exhaust them and get more ‘raw’ performances.
5. Dinner Table Scene, Django Unchained
In one of the movie's most climatic scenes, Leonardo DiCaprio's character realizes he's been set up, and slams his hand in anger against the dining table. Even though DiCaprio started bleeding, he went on with filming the scene without breaking character,
and when Kerry Washington was brought to the room, DiCaprio smears his bloody hand on her face - an act she never expected, and which made her genuinely horrified. Shockingly, when the scene ended DiCaprio's cut actually required stitches.
6. Slap Scene, The Exorcist
The actress was filming a scene in which she was being slapped by her demon-possessed daughter, and than yanked to the other side of the room (being pulled by a cable). Director William Friedkin was not happy with the result and instructed a crew member to pull it much harder -
and Burstyn was pulled with such force that she broke her tailbone. The shot made it into the final movie, with Burstyn's pain caught on camera and being 100% real.
7. Fight Scene, Rocky IV
This fight scene was so brutal that it was actually life-threatening: Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren were shooting a boxing scene, until Lundgren hit Stallone one time too many. "...After the third take of taking body blows, I felt a burning in my chest, but ignored it...", Stallone told Ain't It Cool.
"[Turns out] he struck me so hard in that my heart slammed against my breastbone and began to swell[...] and without medical attention the heart would’ve continued to swell until it stopped".