Actors Who Got Their Inspiration For Roles From Pretty Weird Places

Christian Bale in 'American Psycho'
youtube | Movieclips

The challenge of acting lies in playing a character other than yourself, and doing it convincingly. It's hardly an exact science, and most actors likely have their own way of preparing for a given role.

Sometimes, though, an actor's inspiration for playing a character makes for a story so good that it needs to be told. You might view your favorite movie or show a little bit differently after reading this.

Tom Hanks' brother was the original Forrest Gump.

Forrest Gump seems like a unique character, but Hanks acknowledged that many of the mannerisms seen in the 1994 hit were inspired by a character played by his brother in a movie called Buford's Beach Bunnies.

Gal Gadot saw Princess Diana as a superhero.

Gadot played Diana Prince, or Wonder Woman, in a film series. She says that the character's compassion and level of care for other people was inspired by another Diana — Princess Diana.

Hannibal Lecter is more catlike than you think.

Anthony Hopkins says that his haunting portrayal of Hannibal Lecter was based off of cats, particularly his slinky movement. "I wanted to get that [cat] feel when Lecter is padding very quietly and stealthily in the shadows," he said.

Quagmire is an old-school guy.

Seth MacFarlane's portrayal of Quagmire on Family Guy is truly an inspired role, but what's it inspired by? MacFarlane says he turned to old-timey, fast-talking radio announcers of the '40s and '50s, added some perverse elements, and created the character.

Tom Hardy studied a bear to prep for 'Peaky Blinders'.

Tom Hardy in 'Peaky Blinders'
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Hardy is perfect in his role in Peaky Blinders. It was inspired not by a person, but by a bear. Director Colm McCarthy said Hardy came to set and told him he wanted the whole character to be based on a bear.

Joker (the Heath Ledger one) was inspired by Sid Vicious.

Heath Ledger as Joker

The sneering, arrogant tone of Ledger's Joker was based, at least in part, on Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious. Who'd have thought that a legendary film character would be based on a legendary punk?

Gollum was based on a cat hacking up a hairball.

Andy Serkis' CGI-aided performance as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films is completely unforgettable. Serkis says that some of the character's tics were based on his cat coughing up a hairball.

Chris Pratt didn't have real velociraptors, but he did have dolphins.

Chris Pratt in 'Jurassic World'
Giphy | Jurassic World

Since he couldn't study actual raptors for Jurassic World, Pratt did the next best thing: studying the movement of dolphins. It allowed him to convincingly follow an animal's movement, which came in handy as he played a raptor wrangler in the film.

Daniel Day-Lewis always finds inspiration in the weirdest places.

Bill the Butcher from 'Gangs of New York' tapping a knife near his eye

His portrayal of Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York is haunting to this day, and the method actor says that he looked to Eminem to nail the part. The character wasn't based on Em or anything, it's just that Day-Lewis listened to a lot of his music while prepping for the role.

Iwan Rheon's Ramsay Bolton was partially inspired by a children's character.

Rheon's performance as the sadistic Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones was a true scene-stealer. He says that he studied three disparate characters: Heath Ledger's Joker, Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, and Dennis the Menace in order to nail the role.

Al Pacino went to an unexpected place to portray Tony Montana.

Al Pacino in 'Scarface'

Pacino's performance as Tony Montana in Scarface is so legendary that it's become an archetype. What was it inspired by? He says that Montana's physical movements were inspired by boxing legend Roberto Duran, but that he also drew inspiration from Meryl Streep's performance in Sophie's Choice.

Meryl Streep looked to an iconic western for inspiration.

Meryl Streep in 'The Devil Wears Prada'
Giphy | 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The Devil Wears Prada and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly don't seem to have much in common thematically speaking, but that didn't stop Streep from looking to Clint Eastwood's character in the western. She says his style — in which he never raises his voice and commands a room — was perfect for her role in The Devil Wears Prada.

What do Jonah Hill and the Fyre Festival have in common?

Jonah Hill in 'Don't Look Up'
IMDb | Bluegrass Films

Here's a new one: a character inspired not by a person, but by a dumpster fire of a music festival. Jonah Hill says that he tried to channel the disastrous vibe of the ill-fated Fyre Festival for his role in Don't Look Up.

Joaquin Phoenix's Joker was basically a scarecrow.

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker
Giphy | Balaiu's Comunicação

We've seen some incredible portrayals of Batman villain the Joker in recent years, and Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal was one of them. Phoenix says that he based some of the movements and tics of the character on Ray Bolger's portrayal of the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

Robert Englund looked to 'Treasure Island' for inspiration.

Englund is best-known as Freddy Krueger, but he also had a memorable role in Stranger Things. He says that the latter character was inspired by Billy Bones, a storytelling character from Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island.

Tom Hardy's Bane was based on a Romani fighter.

Tom Hardy as Bane

Hardy's iconic role as Bane in the Batman movies was based, at least in part, on Bartley Gorman, a well-known bare-knuckle boxer in England. Hardy says that Bane's voice was based on Gorman's unique cadence.

Bill Paxton looked to his dad.

Bill Paxton smiling while driving in 'True Lies'
IMDb | Twentieth Century Fox

The late Bill Paxton had some inspired lines in his career, such as asking in Weird Science if his brother would like "a nice greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray." He revealed that this line, along with his role in True Lies, was based on stuff his dad would do and say.

Thomasin McKenzie was told to watch an '80s movie.

Thomasin McKenzie starred in Jojo Rabbit, a kind of dark comedy about a boy who's friends (in his imagination) with Adolf Hitler. To channel the energy that director Taika Waititi was looking for, McKenzie was told to watch Heathers — a different dark comedy — for inspiration.

Melissa McCarthy looked to Guy Fieri for inspiration.

Melissa McCarthy in 'Bridesmaids'
Facebook | Bridesmaids

McCarthy's role in Bridesmaids was comedic, and she turned to one of the Food Network's biggest stars for inspiration. She told Conan O'Brien that she wanted to channel Guy Fieri's energy — loud shirt, glasses on the head and all — to play the role. She even claimed that she wanted to wear spiky bleached hair.

Is Tom Cruise the original American Psycho?

Christian Bale in 'American Psycho' wearing sunglasses and talking on a large mobile phone
Facebook | American Psycho

Christian Bale burst onto the scene with his unforgettable role as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. As it turns out, Bateman's wide smile and empty eyes were based in large part on Tom Cruise.