Top 10 Method Actors



Top 10 Method Actors

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough.

Intensity, insanity and devotion to the craft. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Method Actors. For this list, we're not focusing on one specific performance – although some are definitely highlighted – but rather actors or actresses who are widely recognized to embrace the method approach to acting.

Special thanks to our users Mattyhull1, Jack Morris, Vivek Varghese, Lindsey Daggett, AvrilLavigneandAFI,, Nicole Calleja, Steven Robinson, Andrew A. Dennison, Cristian Alejandro Trujillo Meneses, Vivek Varghese, kinrabagre17 and Jillian Lyons for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by Q.V. Hough.

Top 10 Method Actors

Intensity, insanity and devotion to the craft. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Method Actors.

For this list, we’re not focusing on one specific performance – although some are definitely highlighted – but rather actors or actresses who are widely recognized to embrace the method approach to acting. We love you Chloë Sevigny, and the BJ from “Brown Bunny” took commitment, but you don’t make the list.

#10: Dustin Hoffman

He played an autistic genius in “Rain Man” and wore high heels for his cross-dressing role in “Tootsie,” but this dedicated actor went all out for the 1976 classic “Marathon Man.” Although Dustin Hoffman was 38 years old at the time of shooting, he lost 15 pounds to play a Ph.D candidate caught up in a stolen diamond scheme. He often ran before scenes to portray someone nervous, and it’s been rumored that Hoffman stayed up for several days and nights to look ragged and dirty. Whatever the case, Hoffman killed it.

#9: Adrien Brody

It’s no easy task to portray the life of a Holocaust survivor, however this actor transformed his lifestyle to identify with the role of the famed Polish-Jewish pianist in the 2002 historical drama. Adrien Brody won an Academy Award for his performance in “The Pianist,” but only after leaving all his personal possessions behind and moving alone to Europe before shooting. Ok, maybe college kids do the exact same thing all the time, but not all of them are hand-selected by director Roman Polanski to carry the weight of such a film. Mr. Brody went all out and it showed.

#8: Shia LaBeouf

How would you like to drop acid and have sex on screen? These were the questions posed to Shia LaBeouf for two separate roles in the 2013 films “Charlie Countryman” and “Nymphomaniac.” For the former, the actor embraced his inner hippie by dropping LSD. But for Lars von Trier’s saucy film, LaBeouf only simulated doing hibbity dibbity, while porn actors actually did the deed and had their private parts and actions superimposed over the actors’. However, his willingness to participate in these potentially risky films reflects his pure dedication to the craft and commitment to his love of the female form. Bravo, Shia, bravo!

#7: Joaquin Phoenix

Who has two thumbs and loves Tom Foolery and Shenanigans? THIS GUY! Joaquin Phoenix comes from a family of actors and reached the height of his career, or so we thought, when he morphed into Johnny Cash for “Walk the Line.” Five years later, Phoenix threatened to retire from acting and shocked Americans with a bizarre appearance on David Letterman along with the documentary “I’m Still Here.” Of course, Joaquin was simply in character and proceeded to deliver several iconic performances once he finally treated himself to a fresh shave.

#6: Al Pacino

HOO-AHH! Every actor wants to be this cinematic icon, but not many are willing to put in the work. Al Pacino has served as the Grandmaster of Acting Clinics for several decades and understands that one needs to get a little dirty to truly embrace the method. While many still bow down to Pacino’s skills as Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” trilogy, some of his best performances resulted from severe physical and emotional adjustments, whether it was to play an undercover cop in 1973’s “Serpico,” a Cuban in “Scarface” or a blind loudmouth in “Scent of a Woman.” Al Pacino gets down with the method like nobody’s business.

#5: Marlon Brando

He’s the original gangster of Method Acting. Long before James Dean became an American Icon after only three movies, he admired the performance prowess of Marlon Brando, who lit up the screen in both “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “On the Waterfront.” The Omaha-born actor studied under the great Stella Adler in New York City and racked up four Oscar nominations, including one win, before mainstream America even knew what the heck “method acting” was. Films like “The Godfather, “Apocalypse Now” and “Last Tango in Paris” would come later and proved that Brando was the Boss of his era.

#4: Robert De Niro

Now we’re getting serious. Robert De Niro stuffed himself silly in order to gain 60 pounds for Martin Scorsese’s 1980 film “Raging Bull.” The result? Cha-ching! The Oscar! Of course, De Niro also had to be in shape to play the younger version of boxer Jake LaMotta and actually won a couple of NYC bouts after being trained by his subject. Just a few years before, Bobby D worked 12-hour shifts as a New York City cabbie to prepare for his disturbing role in “Taxi Driver” and one could argue that Mr. De Niro pretty much owned the ‘70s,’ 80s and a little bit of the ‘90s thanks to the method. Yes, it’s been confirmed. It was the age of De Niro.

#3: Heath Ledger

This late actor was primed to become the next great Hollywood star, but he moved on to a higher stage in 2008. Heath Ledger became a heartthrob after “10 Things I Hate About You” and “The Patriot,” but his controversial performance as a gay sheep wrangler in “Brokeback Mountain” made the industry pay attention. Ledger went on to play a version of Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” – undoubtedly an artistic challenge – but it was his unforgettable and Oscar-winning performance as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” that preserved his legacy. The Australian artist locked himself in a London hotel room to explore different voices and quirks, and a notebook later revealed the extent of his dedication.

#2: Christian Bale

Intense, ornery and exceptionally talented, this handsome English actor pushes the boundaries of acting. We all know Christian Bale as the modern version of the Caped Crusader, but his film career dates all the way back to the early ‘80s. Bale stepped into the shoes of a Wall Street serial killer for “American Psycho” and won an Oscar for becoming boxer/drug addict Dicky Eklund in “The Fighter,” however his frightening weight loss for “The Machinist” was just…WOW. You win, Christian Bale. Well, almost….

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Choi Min-sik
- Jack Nicholson
- James Franco
- Jared Leto

#1: Daniel Day-Lewis

His appearances on screen are few and far between, which makes them truly an EVENT. Nobody transitions from human to movie character like Daniel Day-Lewis. Some even argue that he’s an entirely different breed of actor all on his own. While Oscar wins don’t always equal superior acting, understand that DDL has three of them in the Lead Actor category – more than any male actor in history. He played an artist with cerebral palsy in “My Left Foot,” a raving lunatic in “There Will Be Blood” and inexplicably managed to make contact with Abe Lincoln in 2012. He was sent to us from the gods of the Method and we praise his greatness.

Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite method actor? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to
Yeeeessss Definitely agreee, and it seems like to be a truly great actor they have to be method actors there is no other way for real greatness. Though i do enjoy the movie star actors very much as well
did daniele day lewis get on the list twice. my god lol :)
Despite how mesmerizing the Joker was, I personally don't think Ledger should've gotten above Robert De Niro.