Method Actors

Why do the Oscars love Method Actors? This Vox explainer looks into it. Some people (cough Jared Leto) do take it to extremes. Via Vox:

Method acting describes a broad framework for training actors to break down, understand, and portray their characters. The acting technique emphasizes tapping into one’s personal experiences to reproduce the emotions, actions, and behavior required for a dramatic performance.

But this approach remains controversial, because of the mental and emotional stress it can create in actors, and because of the extreme lengths some actors go to achieve it.

Although method acting was popularized by Lee Strasberg in the mid 20th century, it has its roots in early 20th century Russia. Konstantin Stanislavski, a Russian actor and drama theorist, and his peers at the Moscow Art Theater developed a “system” that method acting is directly based on. Stanislavski’s teachings emphasized critical, holistic analyses of scenes in tandem with self-reflection by the actor.

Stanislavski’s ideas spread throughout the US in the 1930s where they were interpreted and transformed by a subsequent generation of instructors, including Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner. These schools acting diverged, emphasizing and building upon different parts of Stanislavksi’s original system.

Strasberg’s interpretation emphasized drawing on personal experiences to relate to fictitious ones, Adler taught a greater focus on leveraging an actor’s imagination, and Meisner stressed the importance of inhabiting a scene truthfully, with less emphasis on abstraction and intellectualizing of the relationship between an actor and their character.

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