Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch: Six times actors refused to break character

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Both Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch, who play characters with a fraught on-screen relationship, revealed they had made the conscious decision not to mingle on set. That decision was rooted in method acting, a technique both stars used to stay in character and sustain their relationship even while off-set. Actors have long used such a technique to deliver powerful performances, and Express.co.uk has compiled a list of other infamous occasions where actors refused to break character on set.

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet, who rose to fame following her performance on Titanic, also has a track record of method acting.

She once told The Sun that she adopted a German accent while filming The Reader.

The 2008 film saw her play Hanna, a German woman who strikes up a relationship with a younger man after World War Two.

She said her accent managed to confuse her children, who got “mightily fed up with me reading bedtime stories with a German accent”.

She added: “They said, ‘Mum, just be plain. Don’t do any funny stuff like voices. Just be regular.'”

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix most recently captured attention in The Joker but has a long-established career as a Hollywood heavyweight.

He forged his image via method acting in several films, where he refused to break character.

One infamous occasion came during filming for 2012 film The Master, where Mr Phoenix plays cult inductee Freddie Quell.

Freddie characteristically clenched his jaw, which Mr Phoenix emulated with medical assistance.

He told National Public Radio he had “metal brackets” fastened to his teeth wrapped in rubber bands to “force my jaw shut on one side”.

Jared Leto

Although Jared Leto’s Joker ultimately wasn’t as well-received as Mr Phoenix’s, it wasn’t through lack of trying.

The actor famously co-opted aspects of the Clown Prince of Crime’s personality while filming the DC flick.

Speaking from the red carpet during the premiere, Will Smith, who played Deadshot, said Mr Leto “wasn’t playing”.

He told reporters: “He went full Joker. And the rule, generally, is to never go full Joker. But, he went all in. He really set the tone. He wasn’t playing with it.”

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Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway stepped into the shoes of Fantine for the 2012 on-screen adaptation of Les Miserables.

She went the extra mile when playing the character.

While filming, she ate dried oatmeal paste for two weeks and lost one stone (11 kg).

She said she was “obsessive” about looking “near death”.

Ms Hathaway added: “It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that’s who Fantine is anyway.”

Christian Bale

Christian Bale is another famous method actor who cultivates his characters off stage.

While he also keeps personalities in play, he is best known for his dramatic weight shifts.

During filming for The Machinist – a psychological thriller that centres on troubled and emaciated insomniac Trevor Reznik – Mr Bale dropped a significant amount of weight.

His efforts, which drew international attention, saw him lose four stones (28 kg), dropping to eight stones (54.4 kg).

While filming for the titular role in 2018’s Vice, he gained two stones (18 kg) to play Dick Cheney.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio is less famous for method acting but had one well-known occasion where he refused to break character.

Django producer Stacy Sher revealed in 2012 that the actor managed to injure his hand during filming.

While delivering a line as Calvin Candie during filming, he smashed his hand on the table in front of him, smashing a glass and cutting himself.

Ms Sher explained: “Blood was dripping down his hand. He never broke character. He kept going. He was in such a zone.”

His intense performance ultimately made the cut, and people can see the dramatic moment in their own copy of the film.

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