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Discussion over Jaret Leto and method acting, at the New Yorker Movie Facebook Club

Jared Leto’s turn in "Suicide Squad" is the latest reminder that the technique has become more about ego and marketing than good performances.

This is old (ish), but I agree that so called "method acting" has become more stunt than a direct pipeline to gritty human sublimity these days.
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Patrick McEvoy-Halston Right now it would seem perhaps more accurate to say that doing method acting means for being ridiculed as fancifully, self-glorifingly feminine. The cool guy just "acts" and is done, hardly knowing it even happened.

Lizzie Nicholson not quite sure what you're saying...

Lizzie Nicholson i don't see the 'feminine' side to method acting

Peter Hoffman overly-emotional, flamboyant, gesturing = female

Lizzie Nicholson Peter, let Patrick answer...

Chris Okum I don't think method acting or the preponderance of actors glorifying their preparation is feminine at all. And Ed Harris is hardly a method actor, but his performances couldn't be more emotional. Being vainglorious and self-important is a human trait, not masculine or feminine.

Patrick McEvoy-Halston The article writer wants us to think she's against macho, and so encapsulates method acting as a way of sissifying other actors that don't make the same demands on themselves. But she also explains that, "method techniques prompt actors to draw on their own experiences and emotions as a way to strip their performances of artifice," which, if we withdrew our sense of method acting as associated with the likes of Brando, Bale and DiCaprio, and instead imagined we were learning of for the first time, doesn't immediately scream macho: drawing on your own emotions, might sound a little bit like therapeutic silliness, discovering the five love languages of your soul, or whatnot, in today's culture.

What sounds, if not macho, at least manly... an older kind of manliness, that has come back: how the article describes Rowlands, which for me was akin to a working class "gent" who knew to attend to her various other responsibilities, and still did first-class art. She comes across as a disciple of father-knows-best, and the new method actors, as fey artistes who want to abandon all for broadway. And I'm quite sure this isn't true for Rowlands, but I suspect these days that those who are lambasting those who ostensibly, and to justify this critique, probably are, risking a lot of self-uncovering to best play their roles, are primarily motivated by justifying a safe, detached approach to all of their lives, that the 60s generation rejected for being repressed. I don't want to make being frozen cool again.

Chris Okum I agree wholeheartedly with this. You read old interviews with great actors and most of them are loathe to discuss their 'method.' Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall probably roll their eyes at actors like Jared Leto, who seems incapable of playing a simple human being, which is the hardest thing of all to do. Same thing goes with Johnny Depp now, whose movies are all about him and the character he has created. Obnoxious. What I find most obnoxious of all are the actors who play soldiers and who tout the two weeks they spent preparing for the role under the guidance of some retired drill Sargent turned Tech Adv. , as if playing soldier with the knowledge that absolutely no harm will ever come to you is somehow a fool-proof way of getting into the mindset of someone who has seen real combat. But, hey, whatever works for you. If the only way you can play someone from the 1800s is to live in a cabin for a month and make yr own shoes out of cowhide then bully for you, but keep it to yourself. I make an exception for movies that are about the acting process, though, like the recent Kate Plays Christine and Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, as the art of acting itself is nothing to sneeze at and can be quite fascinating to learn about. The stuff with 'method actors' talking about how deep they got into character is pure vanity, though.

Patrick McEvoy-Halston Chris Okum Stereotypically feminine traits, and you must know that. Traditionally, it's what is expected out of women, and if men carry themselves like that, that's whom they are becoming: traitors to real manhood. Your previous post is all about the fundamental manliness of warriors (who unlike actors, subject themselves to "genuine risks"), men of action, about men who are loathe to talk, who'd roll their eyes at our current, disgusting, cowardly and pretentious behaviour. This manner of understanding real men carries with it a sense of men who are vainglorious and self-important as being female-men... men who desire being courted. What's happening is that we are creating an environment which will make it that much more of a combat zone, that much more risky, to dare becoming deeply sensitive to other people. This regression originates out of a lot of men, particularly, feeling themselves as compromised, too much men of feeling, and needing to make their social environment one which helps staunch it all back in. Hence, Jaret Leto, who represents how they feel, must be made an example of... pushed off the map.

Patrick McEvoy-Halston Method acting has become vain, wanting to promote and flaunt oneself... to be stereotypically feminine. It's not being discarded for macho bulls*t as the article suggests, but to privilege something ostensibly more fundamentally manly, resurrected from out of times past. It's basically coming across as anti-metrosexual, and is promoting people robots.


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