As a profession, acting is often spoken of in mystical terms. When a celebrated stage or screen performer gets asked about their "process" on a late-night talk show or in a glossy magazine profile, the responses tend to include metaphoric language about "transformation" or "getting lost" in a character. To make the craft sound more relatable, the acclaimed thespian often emphasizes the most tactile part: the preparation. The grittier -- and more ridiculous -- the better.
But is putting your body (or mind) through hell for your art really necessary? Though actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis have won Oscars for flexing their Method muscles, just as many performers have seen their hard work mocked online -- or, even worse, completely ignored. There's an often-told anecdote about Dustin Hoffman not sleeping for 72 hours to prep for a scene in Marathon Man, where his character was supposed to be sleep deprived. His co-star, stage veteran Laurence Olivier, asked, "My dear boy, why don't you just try acting?" You'll know the answer from reading this list: Sometimes the preparation is its own reward.