Method acting is notoriously divisive. A lot of actors (a great majority of them men) use it as an excuse to be very much jerks on set with the excuse of being “in character.” While women can be method actors as well, it is a different experience, as Meryl Streep explains.
Entertainment Weekly has released an oral history of The Devil Wears Prada, the American comedy film directed by David Frankel that taught us all the importance of understanding color, accessories, and not being a snob when it comes to understanding fashion. In the film, Meryl Streep plays Miranda Priestly, the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, and a total ice queen whose perfectionism makes her amazing at her job, but cruel—a truly sublime role.
While in the role, Streep wanted to live up to her character and kept her interaction with costars Emily Blunt and Annie Hathaway “ice cold” and didn’t really interact in any humorous way with people.
“It was horrible! I was [miserable] in my trailer,” Steep told EW. “I could hear them all rocking and laughing. I was so depressed! I said, ‘Well, it’s the price you pay for being boss!’ That’s the last time I ever attempted a Method thing!”
Everyone also knew how much it was a bummer for her to do that, as Emily Blunt shared: “Meryl is so gregarious and fun as hell, in some ways it wasn’t the most fun for her having to remove herself. It wasn’t like she was unapproachable; You could go up to her and say, ‘Oh my God, the funniest thing just happened,’ and she’d listen, but I don’t know if it was the most fun for her to be on set being that way.”
Of course, because not being able to enjoy and hang out with your coworkers because of a false sense that you must embody the titular antagonist at all times to succeed, rather than lean on your decades of acting experience, is not fun.
Thankfully, unlike “I will send you used condoms” Jared Leto, Streep didn’t become a complete and utter menace to everyone. “I did feel intimidated, but I always felt cared for,” Hathaway says of the experience. “I knew that whatever she was doing to create that fear, I appreciated [because] I also knew she was watching out for me.”
I appreciate anytime people call out the fact that method acting ends up being used to create a toxic work environment, even a small one. Yes, taking time to immerse yourself in the character is a good thing, but at a certain point, in the words of Laurence Olivier: “Why don’t you just try acting?”
(via A.V. Club, image: 20th Century Fox)
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