Method Acting: The Cons

Why Method Acting Is Not Worth the Trouble


Dylan Nolan, Staff Writer

Many great actors have used a trick called method acting to enhance their own acting performance, but many believe it’s taking acting too far. Method acting is when an actor prepares for their role by playing the character in and out of filming. This acting style can create identity confusion for the actor for months at a time. The product mostly results in great performances like Heath Ledger’s Joker, Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle and Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman. However, many argue it takes too much of a toll on an actor’s mental state and isn’t necessary.

Method acting is used by most actors, but only for maybe an hour or day. Actors that use it full time when filming are scarce. Although many of the actors that use it often fulltime are considered some of the best such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Nero, Christan Bale and some others. Method acting is thought to make a performance more believable, but many can’t tell if something is method acted or not. Matthew Mconhuahy’s performance in Interstellar is highly regarded as a great performance but isn’t method acting. The plot is often much more important to making a movie enjoyable than the barely noticeable difference between method acting, and normal good acting.

Blockbuster films like “Star Wars”, “Marvel” and “Harry Potter” do not contain method acting, yet hold box office records. This ineffective method of acting doesn’t help a movie become more popular, it is often the plot and famous actors that bring in money.

Another factor is the dangerous mental state the actor is in when acting around the clock. “I need to know when you’re on stage and when you’re off stage,” said famous actor Robert Pattison “I need to know that between action and cut, that’s the thing. That’s the safe space. I need to know it ends. I need to know there’s a cut coming, and then I’ll feel safe. If it just feels like you can’t get out, that’s when you go crazy.” Being able to transition out of character your playing and back into yourself is important for someone to be in a healthy mindset.

Summit’s theatre program has never practiced method acting due to the harsh side effects that can sprout. Oftentimes in high school, students are still figuring out who they are. Method acting requires such a deep dive into a character’s mentality that there can sometimes be loss of one’s own identity, temporary or permanent,” said Lara Okamoto, Summit theatre teacher. “To me, it’s not worth the risk when there are other techniques that can elicit just as good of results from a performer.” Method acting is dangerous enough for it to only be used by professional actors.

Characters that often use method acting are often some sort of antagonist. “I always say about people who do method acting, you only ever see people do the method when they’re playing an a–holes,” said Pattison. This repetitiveness can get old for the actors, as well as harming. Becoming a mentally troubled person for months at a time can create conflict in one’s life.

In a survey conducted with highschool students at summit, the results showed that people often enjoy non method acted films more then method acted ones. In the survey, students were asked to choose which movie they liked better, one was method acting and the other wasn’t. Out of all five comparisons, the non- method acted in movies one every time. In one of the comparisons, out of the 34 votes, 79.4% went to “Titanic” over “The Revenant”, “Titanic” was not method acted. Method acting has proven to be an unnecessary step for an actor and has become mentally dangerous.

Later in the interview Okamoto explained what type of acting she finds best to teach to the highschool actors at Summit. “Typically, I teach Stanislavski’s System of Acting, which is actually a foundation for many styles of acting, including Method. The System asks a performer to be present in the moment, engage with honest and organic emotions and assess a character’s history and backstory as motivation for their behaviors and actions. In comparison to Method Acting, the System is more about knowing and understanding the character than becoming the character” said Okamoto. 

Using Stanislavski’s System of acting, Summit students are still able to feel the character and immerse themselves into the role, but are able to keep a safe border between them and any role they have played. Method acting is a dangerous maze that many actors have been lost in over time. Method acting is not worth the toll on one’s mind.