Mads Mikkelsen is not a fan of Method acting, saying “it’s bullshit” when actors refuse to come out of character.
“What if it’s a shit film?” he wondered in a new interview with GQ. “What do you think you achieved? Am I impressed that you didn’t drop character? You should have dropped it from the beginning! How do you prepare for a serial killer? You gonna spend two years checking it out?”
The thing we now commonly call Method acting is just one technique from The Method, which has its roots in a theatrical approach devised by the great Russian director Konstantin Stanislavski for Anton Chekhov’s plays in the 1890s. It was adapted by the American acting teachers Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner in the 1930s, and went on to influence thespians including Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe.
Initially, The Method referred to a wide range of rehearsal and performance techniques, many of which involved using one’s personal memories to tap into a character’s emotions. Today, however, when actors and the media talk about Method acting, they are almost exclusively referring to people who stay in character all the time.
Mikkelsen has nothing but scorn for this approach, even for performances he respects such as Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. “I would have the time of my life, just breaking down the character constantly. ‘I’m having a cigarette? This is from 2020, it’s not from 1870 – can you live with it?’ It’s just pretentious,” he added. “Daniel Day-Lewis is a great actor. But it’s got nothing to do with this.”
Mikkelsen himself is fastidious in his preparations, having taken horseback riding lessons for King Arthur in 2004, and learning French for Age of Uprising in 2013. “But preparation, you can take into insanity,” he said.