“Correct me if I am wrong, but I am almost certain Tony Hopkins did not actually bite into the sweet flesh of a screaming human being when he portrayed that saucy roué Hannibal Lecter, now did he?” said brooding British method actor Daniel Day-Lewis, speaking on the set of his new movie City of Butcherly Love. “Tony’s a decent bloke, but a complete fraud of an actor.”
Lewis, renowned for his intense style of acting, starts prepping for his roles months in advance and takes on the character’s persona for the entire time. According to Lewis, “A good method man never turns it off.”
Method acting can be described as a naturalistic style of acting made famous by the Russian actor-director, Konstantin Stanislavsky, where the actor identifies closely with the character to be portrayed. Marlon Brandostarted the method ball rolling in the U.S. with his highly emotional performance in On The Waterfront. Brando is now famous for becoming his character prior to filming. He has been preparing for his role as the mentally ill, obese, 14th-century Italian Opera singer Enrico Lozengia for the past 30 years. He refuses to begin production until he has reached the singer’s true weight of 900 pounds. He’s only thirty pounds away. Shooting is scheduled for March 2004.
A Madness to His Method
For his role of Christy Brown in the 1989 film My Left Foot, Lewis had both his arms and one leg broken so he could truly feel what it is like to be a physically disabled. He also kept a live chipmunk in his cheek to disrupt his normal speech pattern and to produce the sound of a man who had to struggle to speak.
Lewis trained for a whole year in the ring and sparred daily with professional middleweight boxers to prep for his critically acclaimed lead role in the 1997 drama The Boxer. The thespian pugilist embraced the sweet science so much he recently went on a celebrity boxing tour (sponsored by PBS) and defeated the likes of Mickey Rourke, Will Smith and Dustin Diamond.
In keeping with his strange yet effective preparation, Lewis donned a giant black top hat for five months straight for his role as the ultra-violent Bill “The Butcher” Cutting in the Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York. He did not take off the towering topper even for his weekly shower. Lewis described the headpiece as “…a part of me. It gave me strength and fearlessness… plus I could hide my favorite large killing-axe in it.”
“Mr. Lewis would not allow anyone — cast or crew members — to speak directly to him. We had to address his hat,” said production assistant Mitch Keady. “It was a bit weird, but he is so fantastic we didn’t care!”
A Most Unsettling Set
In what many are calling the greatest achievement in method acting to date, Lewis murdered a homeless man to immerse himself in his latest role as a serial killer roaming the streets of Philadelphia. With the cameras rolling on a closed set in North Philly, a withered old homeless man was tricked into entering a decrepit warehouse door that read “Free Food and Parkas!” Once inside, the frail man was tackled by three burly gaffers and a best boy and immediately injected with a large dose of Phenobarbital and some A-1 steak sauce.
Then, suddenly, a naked and feral Lewis pounced into the darkened room and quickly mauled the man to death. Biting, scratching, shredding, screaming, ululating like the alpha wolf partaking in a fresh kill, Lewis became the character. Seconds later, it was over and the stunned crew burst into applause. Lewis was subdued with a dart gun and put back into his cage.
“It had to be done. How could I honestly portray a murderous sociopath if I had never experienced the act of brutal, bloody murder? Okay, well, maybe once in college… but that was long ago…” said Lewis hours after his heinous rampage.
In a deal brokered with the Philadelphia Film Commission, the producers of the movie and the Philadelphia Police Department, Lewis will not be brought up on any criminal charges. “With all the money and jobs City of Butcherly Love is bringing to our town, one little murder is a small price to pay,” said Karen Reddman, head of the Film Commission. “This is a high-profile movie. When Hollywood producers hear how accommodating Philly is, they will think of us when they’re scouting for their next project. It’s great P.R.!”
When filming commences, Lewis will retreat to Hawaii for a grueling six-month crash course in surfing to ready himself for his part in the upcoming Olsen Twins sun-n-surf musical Gidget Meets Gidget.
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