What is your opinion about it?
Method acting gave us great performances, but I think it’s pathetic to prepare for a role for months and the result is usually the same as a classical actor’s result. Just look at Day-Lewis performance in Gangs of New York for example. Nothing special in it. Of course we hear he wore old coats and stuff but did it make it a better performance? I don’t think so. And we have Michael Caine who consistently plays very well although he’s not a method actor.
method actors just as often make fools of themselves.
I suppose classical acting is the best though I don’t know if that accounts for performance I have loved from the vaudeville actors or comedians.
I thought Day-Lewis was the only aspect of a Scorsese film that could be called “special” over the last 10 years or so.
Not sure there’s much to be said at this level of generalization.
Déjà vu all over again?
Take just “method” in isolation, for example. Can you say much (beyond simply a definition of what method acting is) about a Day-Lewis performance that’s also true of, say, a Brando performance, James Dean? Robert De Niro? Al Pacino? Paul Newman? Dustin Hoffman? Even if we’re stipulating that the approach to acting is roughly the same from method actor to method actor (which I’m not sure is entirely reasonable), what can one generalize about the actual performances that end up in films?
Acting style must be placed in the context of the character’s relationship to the meaning of the story.
Oh, and one can define meaning any way you want.
The point being, there is a relationship to the totality of what is being expressed.
Even on the most general level there’s something of a problem with the thread. Either one can tell the difference between a method actor and a classical actor, in which case they are doing something different that would effect how one views their work and the film, or one can tell the difference between the two in which case there isn’t much point to the thread unless, for some odd reason, one simply wants to say how actors should approach a role, as if that difference wouldn’t matter to them, which seems a bit of a stretch.
I think that the lines between “method” and “classical” have blurred considerably over the past 20 years. Technically, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, even DiCaprio could all lay claims to being method, though Depp’s work has certainly become more theatrical over the years. Even so, I don’t think that actors are really performing the same way as in the 70s when DeNiro and Jane Fonda were doing it or back in the 50s.
Are DiCaprio and Pitt practicing the method? I doubt it.
On the whole, I prefer classical acting.
Early Pitt definitely. When Basketball Diaries came out, DiCaprio received criticisms of being too :“methody”. Can’t say myself about Leo. I never saw it.
To be honest I am not a fan of his work but he was stunningly good in This Boy’s Life.
Let’s try to crystallize this discussion a little more. The functional difference between method acting and classical acting seems to be that the former focuses on recreating the character’s emotions in one’s own mind and acting on those emotions, and classical acting focuses on learning external techniques.
With that definition, I think method acting is going to result in more distinctive performances, but classical acting is going to result in more charismatic ones. So, it really depends on the specific needs of the film which is better.
Thanks for crystalizing, but I know the differences. The thread was made to let you decide which is more effective (you answered in the second part and I agree.)
I think the word method is thrown around to the point of it being meaningless. What method are we talking about? It’s funny that most people automatically assume that method acting means that the actor walks around in their costume all day, demanding to be referred to only as their character’s name. There are many different schools of acting based upon Stanislavsky’s fundamental teachings. Some people say Lee Strasberg was responsible for Marlon Brando’s groundbreaking acting, while he himself denied it and stated that Stella Adler was most influential to him. Lee and Stella did not see eye to eye on Stanislavsky’s teachings (Lee focused on emotion from sense memory, stemming from personal experience, while Stella focused on emotion stemming from the actual circumstances of the character, their actions within the script, etc). Then there is Sanford Meisner who diverted in his own direction away from those two and so on. So when someone says the word method it actually doesn’t have a true meaning anymore. Film acting is at such a high standard of realism now, that it doesn’t matter how the actor gets to where he/she is going as long as the result is sufficient.
I’ve told this story on other threads but here it is again:
On the set of MARATHON MAN (1976), Dustin Hoffman, a “Methodist” performer, came in looking wan, disheveled, and exhausted. His co-star in the upcoming scene was Sir Laurence Olivier, the epitome of a classical actor. The following dialogue supposedly ensued (paraphrased, of course, except for the last line):
OLIVIER: My boy, what on earth happened to you?
HOFFMAN: To prepare for this scene, in which I have to appear to be wan, disheveled, and exhausted, I spent the night out on the streets of New York. I didn’t sleep, shower, or shave so that I could be true to the character’s harrowing situation.
OLIVIER: My dear boy, have you ever tried … ACTING?!
Most method actors don’t go around demanding to be treated like the character. But, a lot of them will, say, remember a painful memory from their own pasts and use it to be sad.
Is this yet another thread where the circle of thought is centered upon mainly Anglophone performers and curiously enough, mostly actors instead of actresses and we’ll soon be seeing more “widget” comments by the expert cine-“lover” Peabody?
Is there really so much fixation about American and somehow British-oriented actors as opposed to other countries? Women get a bad rap too around these MUBI parts I’ve noticed. It’s not even about the “type” of acting anymore but how many Nicholsons and Newmans we’ll name.
“Is there really so much fixation about American and somehow British-oriented actors as opposed to other countries? "
Because often the best and most interesting and ‘groundbreaking’ screen actors have come from those parts of the world, that’s why.
“Women get a bad rap too around these MUBI parts I’ve noticed”
There aren’t nearly as many stellar female actresses, mostly because they tend to get hired for their looks or end up with shit parts.
We can only work with what we are given.
And besides, the great female actesses get plenty of praise on here. e.g Binoche, Gong Li etc.
I’m pretty sure Stanislavsky’s technique influenced more than just American or British actors since it is a Russian school of acting, and I would say that most screen actors in some form or another, from whatever country have been influenced by it. Just because we gave “Anglophone” examples of the differences in acting technique doesn’t mean this conversation doesn’t extend to actors from different countries.
I find this topic very confusing. Method and classical are two different approaches to acting, but do they have different goals? I’ve always considered them two different systems meant to get the actor inside another character. I tend to think method has a higher ratio of good performance than classical.
“Because often the best and most interesting and ‘groundbreaking’ screen actors have come from those parts of the world, that’s why.”
Says who? People get fixated with American / British-oriented theatrical performers too, does that mean theatrical actors and actresses from other parts of the world are inferior or is it because of the language barrier?
“There aren’t nearly as many stellar female actresses,”
“mostly because they tend to get hired for their looks or end up with shit parts.”
Many of the so-called method / classical actors that have been mentioned here and there have been hired for their looks too, so why should we give more credit to Burt Reynolds as a “popular” actor just because he was a major swooner back then as opposed to miss Keaton? So Keaton has played in more “romantic” parts and Reynolds is superior because he’s played in more “manly”-type films? So women don’t have the right to say “these fuckers were hired for their looks”, it’s always the men who get a free pass for that saying about actresses?
Moreover….what does a shit part mean? Why is Dustin Hoffman always a name to refer to regards to acting and not Faye Dunaway or Helen Mirren? Hasn’t Dustin Hoffman played in the same amount of shit as with Dunaway and Mirren cases? So why is Hoffman almost always a primary example of that sort of 70’s Hollywood acting whereas the ladies above are hardly referenced as acting giants amidst the critical and moralistically pathetic social standards?
Men = Fascism even in acting?
As I said…method and classical are chewed-up terms in order to preserve the mentality of the all-capable “Man”. The one who produces Art thanks to supremacy syndromes and masturbatory complexes.
Since the discussion here is exclusively limited to mainly male performers, I find it ridiculous we’re even trying to discuss these types of acting when nationality and sex are a constant, discriminative factor amidst MUBI users and of course, individuals across the globe.
“Just because we gave “Anglophone” examples of the differences in acting technique doesn’t mean this conversation doesn’t extend to actors from different countries.”
True, true but most people have usually complained that they either don’t have access to those films beyond the well-known Deneuve or Mastroianni treatise of non-Anglophone performers or refuse to download material that would prove useful to comprehend and parallel similarities and differences to what they already know.
“the great female actesses get plenty of praise on here. e.g Binoche, Gong Li etc.”
So we’re talking about a numerical catalogue of talent instead of a fair and square perspective of juxtaposition and interactivity between male / female performers? What? So there’s only one Gong Li from the Chinese realm of cinema but many Katharine Hepburns?
“Not sure there’s much to be said at this level of generalization.”
Second. Matt Parks, once again, voice of reason.
Oh man, the-voice-of-reason is being invoked?
Okay, someone please post a song….
What if I take my problems to the United Nations?
Well, as the OP kinda-sorta-in-a-vague-way touched on, both approaches to acting can have the same result. These are only approaches actors use to achieve a believable/relevant performance. All actors are different and therefore require different techniques to flesh out the character they’re playing.
It’s the same with music. Some musicians must rehearse a song ad nauseum in order to perform it well … others are able to improvise more thoroughly – either way will probably achieve an effective result, it depends on the ability of the musician.
Personally, I prefer neither (or both) because there have been many great performances given by actors using both approaches.
I think it’s just that anglophone actors are more famous because they get the most global exposure. Movies made in France are mostly watched in France, movies made in India are mostly watched in India, movies made in the US are watched everywhere, so naturally American actors get the most name recognition.
It is the general case in the movie industry that female parts are designed around being objects of desire, whose moral imperative it is to succumb to the wishes of the audience and fall in love with a man she’s not attracted to. This leads to women who are good at acting getting far fewer roles than men who are good at acting. (And women who are bad at acting getting far more roles than men who are bad at acting.)
Jack White insists on recording something in the first few takes because he feels it preserves the energy of the performance better. U2 likes to polish their songs down to a nub. This leads to the same sort of dichotomy as in film, higher energy versus shinier polish.