Ah, the age old question of showbiz: Is it method, or is it just madness? Living deeply in character used to seem like such a serious actor thing to do, a respected approach to the job. But lately the tide has been turning against Hollywood’s method actors. Whether it’s viewed by the public as a self-serious oddity (Jeremy Strong) or an active menace to society (Jared Leto), The Method just doesn’t have the reputation it used to–for the most part.
It’s not just us common plebs pointing out the bizarreness of the technique, either. Plenty of successful actors have scoffed at the style, including Stranger Things’ David Harbour. In a new interview with British GQ, he admits, “I’m very much trained in classical American method acting,” but it’s not a fact he’s particularly proud of.
“When I was younger—it’s so embarrassing—but I remember playing that famous Scottish King, and being like, ‘I’m gonna kill a cat’ or something: ‘I’m gonna go murder something to know what it feels like to murder,’” he shares. “I didn’t actually do it, obviously. Not only is that stuff silly, it’s dangerous, and it actually doesn’t produce good work.”
There is one (sort of) exception: Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis. “He’s an extraordinary actor who I’m captivated and fascinated by,” Harbour says, adding, “[But] when he explains his process it sounds like nonsense to me.”
Even modern cinema’s most respected thespian can’t escape a heavy side-eye! Even if the process is nonsense, Day-Lewis is probably most critics’ exception to the “Method is ridiculous” rule. For one thing, he produced a consistently excellent body of work, while today’s most prominent method actor produced…Morbius. Day-Lewis also seems to have spent a whole lot less press time talking about his process than some of the other current method actors.
Don’t count method acting out just yet, though, because it’s still producing career-defining results for the likes of Austin Butler (even at the expense of his health and, apparently, accent?). Not that it makes hearing about the process any less insufferable.