There was a funny scene in Damages this season where Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) observes a table read of a screenplay based on his life. At one point, after watching the read-through of a deposition scene, Frobisher gives a helpful note to the actor portraying his late attorney, Ray Fiske: "Ray Fiske was gay," he whispers to the actor. "Think about that. Play with it a little."
Apparently, this superfluous-character-detail-feeding is a common acting technique. Even Sean Penn uses it. While Penn was researching his latest role, someone at some point must have whispered in his ear, "Joseph Wilson only flies Southwest airlines, and he loves Canoe cologne. Think about that. Play with it a little."
And play with it Sean Penn did.
From The NY Post:
Valerie Plame, who was outed as a CIA agent by officials in the George W. Bush White House in 2003, is heading to the Cannes Film Festival next month to hype "Fair Game," in which she's played by Naomi Watts.
Plame told one guest that Sean Penn, who plays her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, in "Fair Game," impressed her when he "flew in on Southwest Airlines and spent three days following my husband, even wearing the same cologne."
Flying Southwest or dousing himself in his character's favorite cologne would each be impressive acting feats on their own, but flying Southwest while wearing his character's favorite cologne, and then following around his character for three days? That's commitment. Sean Penn doesn't need the Method. He uses the Single White Female school of acting.
It must be weird having Sean Penn trail you for three days, peppering you with probing questions like, "Do you use body wash or bar soap? Which brand?" "Do you prefer toothpaste or gel?" and "What are your top three favorite colors? This is important, dammit!"