Times Actors Either Overprepared For A Role, Or Completely Ignored The Prep Work

Ashley Hunte
A few lines of a script written in what appears to be German.
Unsplash | Waldemar Brandt

A lot more goes into acting than just showing up to set and reading lines. Generally speaking, there's a lot of prep that goes into every role an actor takes.

Though, some actors take the idea of prepping for a role a little too seriously. On the other hand, some don't take it seriously enough. In this list, we'll talk about a bit of both.

Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Revenant.'

Leonardo DiCaprio during his award-winning performance in Revenant.
Giphy | 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Before DiCaprio finally cinched an Oscar for his performance in the 2015 flick, him not winning an Oscar was one of the internet's favorite jokes. Needless to say, he took preparing for Revenant pretty seriously.

He took it upon himself to actually sleep in the wilderness in preparation for the film.

Leo DiCaprio in the 2015 film The Revenant.
Giphy | 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

This included eating raw bison, swimming in icy cold rivers, and sleeping inside of an animal carcass. I guess he really, really wanted that award.

Christopher Plummer didn't have a lot of time to prepare for 'All the Money in the World.'

Plummer speaking to Mark Wahlberg in All the Money in the World.
IMDb | Imperative Entertainment via IMDb

Sexual assault allegations against Kevin Spacey surfaced not long after All the Money in the World was completed, but director Ridley Scott wanted to replace him quickly.

So quickly, that Plummer's scenes were filmed in nine days.

Christopher Plummer laughing while in the audience of the Academy Awards.
Giphy | The Academy Awards

The reshoots meant spending more money, but getting all the footage didn't take much time at all. Somehow, it all worked out in the end, and Plummer even got an Oscar nom for his performance.

Billy Burke had never heard of 'Twilight' when he got cast in the movie.

Kristen Stewart and Billy Burke in Twilight.
IMDb | Summit Entertainment via IMDb

Twilight fans remember Charlie Swan, Bella's father and chief of police in Forks, with a lot of fondness. But Burke, who played Charlie in the films, didn't even know the books existed when he first got the gig.

He auditioned at the request of director Catherine Hardwick.

Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, and Kristen Stewart in Twilight.
IMDb | Summit Entertainment via IMDb

And despite knowing nothing about the story, something just clicked. He later went on to say, "I just thought it was a really nice love story. I didn’t really pay attention to the whole vampire aspect, actually. It was a really nice love story, and a really great relationship between a father and his daughter."

Christopher Lee, on the other hand, was a huge fan of the LOTR series.

Christopher Lee as the wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings.
IMDb | New Line Cinema via IMDb

Lee really wanted to be a wizard in The Lord of the Rings. He even played a wizard in a show called The New Adventures of Robin Hood (which was not good), just so he could have wizard experience on his acting resume (no joke).

He even snapped a pic of himself as a wizard and sent it to director Peter Jackson.

Christopher Lee as Saruman, the evil wizard in Lord of the Rings.
IMDb | New Line Cinema via IMDb

His persistence got him the gig, which was probably a dream come true for the late actor. Also fun fact: he's the only cast member of the film series to have met J.R.R. Tolkien in real life.

Brie Larson stayed home for a full month in preparation for 'Room.'

Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in the 2015 film, Room.
Giphy | A24

While today, staying at home for extended periods of time doesn't seem like a farfetched idea, it definitely seemed pretty extreme at the time when Larson did it.

But she also spent time getting in her character's headspace while in her isolation.

Brie Larson in the critically acclaimed film, Room.
Giphy | Room

She even wrote diaries as Ma during different periods of her preteen and teen years.

"It was stream of consciousness a lot of the time. I'd get really into it and get stuck in a 10-year-old mind for hours at a time," she said.

Considering the fact that it was an Academy Award-winning performance, the prep definitely paid off.

Ewan McGregor was pretty underprepared for 'Emma.'

Ewan McGregor and Polly Walker in the 1996 film, Emma.
IMDb | Miramax via IMDb

McGregor is kind of famous for... not doing as much to prepare for a role as he probably could. In fact, he didn't read "Emma" before taking on the role of Frank Churchill in the film adaptation.

He later said it was the worst thing he'd done.

Ewan McGregor with Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma.
IMDb | Miramax via IMDb

"I made the decision to do that film because I thought I should be seen to be doing something different from Trainspotting," he said. "It's a good film, Emma, but I'm just... not very good in it."

Hugh Jackman only had three weeks to get into shape before playing Wolverine.

Jackman was brought in last minute to take the role on, which meant he had very little time to get into shape. But considering how many times he's reprised the role, it definitely worked out.

Though, that still doesn't mean he was totally prepared for the part.

Headshot of Wolverine from 'X-Men' smiling with his claws extended
IMDb | Twentieth Century Fox

In fact, he kind of went into it knowing very little. Not only did he have zero knowledge of the X-Men comics and Wolverine, he "didn't even know a wolverine was a real thing."

Tom Cruise took 'Interview With the Vampire' very seriously.

Tom Cruise as Lestat in Interview With the Vampire.
Giphy |

Anne Rice, author of the book, very famously hated the fact that Cruise was cast as Lestat for the film adaptation. He was actually hurt by Rice's comments, and used it to fuel his passion for the role.

Cruise read all of Rice's books in preparation for the film.

Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in Interview With the Vampire.
Giphy |

He also learned piano, lost weight, and moved to Paris with then-wife Nicole Kidman to experience some of Lestat's "hedonistic lifestyle." In the end, he actually pulled it off.

One of the most infamous instances of method acting was Jered Leto as the Joker.

Jared Leto as the Joker in Suicide Squad.
Giphy |

In preparation for Suicide Squad, Leto decided to act as twisted as the Batman villain during his time off set, too, much to the ire of his costars.

He would constantly send his costars some pretty bizarre stuff.

Jared Leto as the Joker, who painted a fake smile on his hand.
Giphy | Suicide Squad

He once sent Margot Robbie a rat, and even brought a dead hog to the set (which especially upset Viola Davis). Davis even said in an interview, "He did some bad things, Jared Leto did. He gave some really horrific gifts."

Jennifer Hudson did a lot to prepare for 'Respect.'

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in the 2021 biopic, Respect.
IMDb | MGM via IMDb

Years before her 2018 death, Aretha Franklin said to Hudson, "You're gonna win another Oscar for playing me, right?" Since then, the two would get together regularly to talk about Franklin's life and the potential role.

Hudson finally got to play Franklin in 2021.

Jennifer Hudson, Saycon Sengbloh, and Hailey Kilgore in Respect.
IMDb | MGM via IMDb

While she didn't get an Oscar for the role, it's safe to say that Jennifer Hudson did Aretha Franklin justice in her portrayal during Respect.