5 Actors Open Up on Emotionally & Physically Preparing for Roles

Posted by PZ on March 27th, 2013

Preparing for a role isn’t as simple as just turning up on set: if you want to nail your performance, you have to work hard before the cameras start to roll. These 5 actors have all spoken on their personal emotional and physical preparation that has gone into their roles. From taking method acting to the extreme to working out every single day, they’ve all put their own blood, sweat and tears into their performances, which might explain why some of them are Oscar winners! Getting into the mindset or stepping into the character’s body, these actors believe strongly in becoming the character they are about to play and living the same kind of experiences as them so they are able to understand their feelings.

Bradley Cooper


Bradley shadowed real police for his role in ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’: “(I was) going into these domestic disturbances, which are about 80 per cent of the calls. There was one house with a fish tank that a shoe had been thrown through. Dead fish were everywhere – and kittens were eating the dead fish as we walked by.”

Daniel Day Lewis
daniel day

Daniel is known for his extreme method acting but he feels he needs to go through it to learn about the part: “It is quite true that I like to take a long time to allow things to absorb before undertaking an actual role, but this is not an intellectual pursuit. It really isn’t. If anything, it’s messy and filthy, it’s me scouring the muck in the hope of finding the right interplay between the subconscious and the imagination. I’m sure I could arrive at the same effect for any given role in just two weeks, but I choose not to. People think I go through this in order to do what I do, perhaps because I lack confidence. That’s a considerable misconception, but then it’s one of many.”

Danny Glover

Danny closed his eyes and walked around empty movie theaters to prepare for his role in ‘Blindess’: “There’s another kind of humility for me whenever you close your eyes and trust all the other senses that you often don’t use as much like hearing, and smell. I began to notice the difference from when I was going from outside to inside the building (without seeing) – the way the air feels. I always had a practice when I started doing theatre work. I’d close my eyes and walk from my dressing room to the stage and feel around; to get a sense of where I am the moment before I step on the stage. It’s a kind of tool I played around with to calm my body and provide a certain level of openness in saying that I’m giving myself to this energy in a sense.”

Ryan Gosling

Ryan mentally worked on preparing for ‘Blue Valentine’ for five years: “It made me think about everything. When you’re making a movie like this, you wrack your brain to think about your experiences. I had five years to think about it, I had a ‘Blue Valentine’ file in my brain, so every time something happened in my life or someone else’s life, I would ear-mark it and put it in the file. “

Shia Labeouf


For his part in ‘Lawless’, Shia had to undergo hard physical preparation: ”There’s physical preparation. We were all in the gym all of the time. I was in the gym more here than I had ever been in my entire life. I know that Jason was in the gym every day. Tom was in the gym every day. I know the walk that [Dane DeHaan] had to do was physically arduous and continues to be. You go as hard as you can. It’s a very physical thing.”

Category: Danny Glover, Lists, Ryan Gosling