Here’s a Friday Question that prompted an entire post.
Greg Gibson asked:
On many occasions over the years, I've heard actors in interviews say that the spent "two weeks working in a restaurant kitchen" or rode around in a patrol car or lived in a cave for two months or something while they "researched" the role they were playing. I always assumed they were simply being pretentious, but does this actually happen? Is it possible that when you go out for dinner, Meryl Streep is in the back making your salad, or that you may stumble across Robert De Niro someday while out hiking in the woods?
More than possible, it happened to me. I was a sports intern at KMPC in Los Angeles when the General Manager came into the newsroom and said there was somebody about to do a movie on radio and wanted to spend a few days observing a station. Would I mind ushering him around for two days? I said I’d be happy to and the General Manager then brought in Paul Newman. He was about to do a film called WUSA. This was late ‘60s/early ‘70s so we’re talking the BUTCH CASSIDY/STING Paul Newman. I almost plotzed.
He turned out to be the nicest guy in the world. Very down-to-earth. Oh, if only there were selfies back then!
Lots of actors do research. Ted Danson went to bartending school when he got the CHEERS gig.
But that’s NOTHING.
For SOPHIE’S CHOICE Meryl Streep learned German and Polish and learned to speak German with a Polish accent.
Rooney Mara got real piercings for THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTTOO including her nipples.
Marlon Brando’s first movie role was in THE MEN. He spent a month in a VA rehab ward.
Daniel Day-Lewis spent two days in a prison cell without food or water to prep for IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER. And for MY LEFT FOOT he spent the entire shoot in a wheelchair.
As you can see, actors make great sacrifices for their art. But none was greater than Paul Newman, forced to spend two entire days with me.