Sebastian Stan: Method actors ‘create chaos,’ are ‘irresponsible, narcissistic’

Who do you think of when you think of “method acting?” For me, it’s Christian Bale, Jared Leto, Jeremy Strong (lol, one of these things is not like the others). But you know who’s not a method actor? Sebastian Stan. He’s a solid character actor. He does seem to disappear into his roles and it never feels like his real persona is coming through. Apparently, that’s by design and he’s very careful about creating characters apart from himself, but Sebastian recently spoke out against method acting, calling it “creating chaos” and likening it to torturing others.

In most ways Sebastian Stan seemed completely transformed when he played opposite Lily James and Seth Rogen in Pam & Tommy — Hulu’s wild biographical drama about Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s leaked sex tape — earlier this year.

Taking on the infamously hotheaded and sometimes violent drummer from Mötley Crüe was new and challenging territory for the actor, who was probably best known for his role as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before stepping into Tommy Lee.

Well, Sebastian reflected on developing his character, and the processes that helped him bring a real person to life onscreen, during a recent appearance on Backstage’s In the Envelope podcast.

It turns out that, despite Sebastian’s concerns about bringing his own personal mannerisms with him to work, he’s not a fan of the already dubious “method” approach to acting. Here’s why.

“I don’t believe in creating chaos for the purposes of [acting],” Sebastian explained. “And I know actors do that a lot. There’s a lot of people that do that … create sort of chaos on set or chaos in the other people they’re working with, in order to somehow give the scene this tension or whatever.”

“It just reads like: ‘I’m afraid, and I just want to torture everyone else because of it.'”

Given just a few of the horror stories we’ve heard about actors using the method technique to get into character — like, ahem, Jared Leto sending a live rat to Margot Robbie while filming Suicide Squad — it definitely sounds like Sebastian has the right idea.

[From Buzzfeed]

What Sebastian says here is completely correct. In a lot of ways, method acting does seem like creating chaos, or at the very least inconvenience, for the sake of acting. To which I say, is it really even acting if you have to recreate specific conditions to get the result? Like Sebastian says, it does seem like a result of fear. Fear that they won’t be good enough at their job without all the bells and whistles. Actors should be able to act without terrorizing their costars. We never really hear about method acting that results in kindness and comfort. Jared Leto is the worst offender. He was absolutely awful on the set of Suicide Squad and mostly recently refused to break character for bathroom breaks while portraying a character in a wheelchair. It’s pretty terrible the way he treats people for “craft” and usually to middling results. Jared is not exactly lighting the world on fire with his acting even with all this effort. Sebastian Stan is great in every role I’ve seen him in, which goes to show that method isn’t always necessary and you can’t fake real talent and effort no matter how hard you try.

Very recently, a handful of actors have spoken out against method acting. Maybe the Jeremy Strong New Yorker profile a few months ago and then Brian Cox’s comments about the process reinvigorated the conversation. But, in addition to Sebastian Stan, Mads Mikkelsen, Will Poulter, and Jon Bernthal have all spoken out against it as well. I do think there are levels of method acting. For instance, Jeremy Strong didn’t abandon his real life family when he was immersed in Kendall Roy, but that guy from Sons of Anarchy ghosted his girlfriend for months for a character. Christian Bale was super method on the set of The Dark Knight Rises — until his wife came to visit. But at least Christian and Jeremy turned out great performances. Getting into character is one thing, but completely terrorizing your costars — and getting away with it — like Leto did is another thing entirely. I think Sebastian has method acting described correctly and I’m glad he doesn’t partake in it for his roles because it seems a bit pretentious and he’s good without it.

photos credit: Instar and

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50 Responses to “Sebastian Stan: Method actors ‘create chaos,’ are ‘irresponsible, narcissistic’”

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  1. jo73c says:

    Reminds me of the famous conversation between Dustin Hoffman & Laurence Olivier…
    “So what did you do?” Olivier asked. “Well, I stayed up for three days and three nights.” Laurence Olivier then uttered this famous line, “Why don’t you just try acting?”

    • Luna17 says:

      That’s what I thought of too! If you can’t just act then you’re probably not that good and need a new profession. Jared Leto is the worst with his cult and creepiness.

    • Moxylady says:

      I adore Sebastian Stan. Adore. He’s such a good egg.

  2. Steph says:

    Something, that really stuck out to me in this article that lends do much credence to Bucky With The Good Hair’s comments: every method actor mentioned is a white man. I’ve never once heard of a woman who does method acting and I don’t think (not 100% sure) of a man of color doing it either.

    • Lux says:

      I think Angelina Jolie did a version of it for Girl, Interrupted, which in my opinion, did result in a tour de force performance. Winona Ryder lamented that they never got close because AJ was so into her character. Lady Gaga comes to mind as well when she was in her Joanne phase. It doesn’t seem as prevalent because like you said, you have to be pretty privileged to terrorize people on set and get away with it.

      • SnarcasmQueen says:

        From what I can tell, when women practice method, it’s fairly contained to themselves. They might cut themselves off from the other cast members but I never hear about them staying in character for the duration of the shooting schedule. It’s more isolating themselves to their trailers, focusing narrowly on their own work, and disengaging from others around them but still maintaining good relationships with their crew.

    • Shawna says:

      Didn’t Lady Gaga do it for the House of Gucci? She ended up torturing herself.

    • Evelyn says:

      I know Sally Field is a method actor; I think there’s some element of generational popularity, too. It feels like (and I could be totally wrong here!) it was more of a thing a couple of decades ago, in terms of people buying into it.

    • Shellgame says:

      I thought Marilyn Monroe did “method acting” w the originators, Lee Strasberg was her on set coach? It makes me think it’s a cult of sorts. I mean, seems controlling and very “us and them”. I’d like to be wrong.

      • Gobo says:

        Originally method acting was about chanelling your own lived experiences to emote e.g. you’re supposed to play sad: think of that pet that died and how sad it made you. It then evolved into this perversion of trying to actually live your life as the character. So what Marilyn was doing was not the same thing as Leto.

    • Sudie says:

      Merle Streep famously did it for The Devil Wears Prada. Anne Hathaway said she treated everyone in the cast the same as she did in the movie.

    • The Recluse says:

      I think Julie Harris indulged in a little method acting while she made The Haunting. Clare Bloom found it difficult to get to know her or just chill after work.

    • Ana170 says:

      Denzel is reportedly a method actor. Spike Lee mentioned it in regards to his performance as Malcolm X. He usually plays good guys so it doesn’t appear to be an issue.

  3. N0b0dy says:

    Which guy from SOA was it ? Charlie or Ryan?

  4. Ariel says:

    Off the topic of method acting- i forget how pretty Mr. Stan is underneath all that Bucky hair and effect.

  5. Izzy says:

    I’m glad more actors are calling it out for the nonsense it is. Almost every instance of method acting we hear about involves that actor being an ahole. It reads more like an excuse to be a bully because they think they’re higher up on the food chain than everyone else.

  6. EnormousCoat says:

    Didn’t Robert Pattinson criticize it a few years ago, saying actors only went method for repellent roles, but never ones where they can walk around and just be lovely? I remember snort laughing at what he said.

    • SnarcasmQueen says:

      Right. They never go method when they are playing warm, compassion characters who save the world.

      And I notice their attempts at method don’t involve playing house with their costar because they know that’s not gonna fly.

    • Wilma says:

      I keep that quote on my phone, it’s such a great observation:
      “I always say about people who do method acting, you only ever see people do the method when they’re playing an a–hole,” Pattinson admitted. “You never see someone being lovely to everyone while they’re really deep in character.”

    • Meg says:

      Yes Robert Pattinson seems so pragmatic in that description of method acting. He criticized twilight while promoting it so he seems like he has a good BS meter

    • LIONE says:

      But doesn’t that just mean it’s easier for them to be nice and warm, and harder for them to be evil, so they have to sink deep into it to able to understand and feel it?

      To me that means they are genuinely nice people so there’s no need for method acting when it’s a lovely and nice character. It’s easier to get into that head space…

      What am I not getting?

    • Emmy Rae says:

      I was trying to think of who said that! thank you

  7. Silver Charm says:

    Sebastian Stan isn’t method onset but he is rude to crew so.

    • Lorette says:

      I’ve followed his career for years, and all the people who worked with him – crew, cast, costars – have only words of praise about how kind and thoughtful he is as a co!league. A lot of their stories are online for everybody to check – including the fact that he gave money from his own pocket to the least paid from the crew on the set of The Devil All The Time. So where is your proof that he’s rude to the crew?

      • Silver Charm says:

        First hand experience.

      • NCWoman says:

        Sorry if you had a bad experience, Silver Charm, but it is definitely not the norm. Too many stories direct from named crew of him being absolutely lovely.

      • CourtneyB says:

        I’ve only heard good things too but everyone can have a bad day. He also apparently has a good deal of anxiety/social anxiety. No one should ever be rude but I think most of us have been there where we’ve done something.

  8. [insert_catchy_name] says:

    I just can’t get over how Jared Leto went from that performance in Requiem for a Dream to whatever the hell that was in Blade Runner 2049.

  9. SnarcasmQueen says:

    It’s a cheap gimmick and it’s a way to exercise control over the people around you while also putting the responsibility for your performance on someone else.

    Power tripping in the name of your “craft” and then if it’s not your best work ever, you can blame the crew for failing to accommodate your stupidity.

    Either you can act or you can’t.

    • Silent Star says:

      Absolutely agree @SNARCASMQUEEN. Wasn’t Leto the leader of his own tropical island cult? He is someone that desperately needs to feel special.

  10. Merricat says:

    Lol, method acting has been as misunderstood and misused as Christianity, thanks to people like Leto. It was never meant to be this gross thing.

    • Lorette says:

      Exactly, method acting, as per its origins, the Stanislasvski school, was never meant to be “act like a jerk/ weirdo because you play a jerk or weirdo”. It was a way of exploring and connecting to your inner self/world to find what is common with the character you play. It is a spiritual and psychological exploration that has nothing to do with how you behave outwardly. This form of “method acting” as cringy and erratic behaviour on movie sets is a distortion of narcissistic Hollywood stars.

    • Nicegirl says:

      Exactly yes Merricat & Lorette

    • LIONE says:

      True @MERRICAT

      Don’t even think they should be using the word ‘method’ as it’s not even the right technique they’re using when being a**holes onset

  11. elizabeth says:

    There was just that instance of Anne Hathaway saying she only met Jared Leto on the red carpet because he stayed in character as Adam Neumann the whole time. And Adam Neumann is besotted with his wife so he was really kind and loving. So, for him, maybe it works both ways.

  12. AC says:

    Jared Letto is a method actor, and I can totally see him being out there. Didn’t Jolie start her career as a method actor?

  13. Sophia says:

    Jared Leto is a narcissist who has gotten this far due to his looks and luck. He has no range. He definitely tries hard, but has too much of an ego. I used to idolize him as a teen and then saw him in interviews and read stories about him sleeping with barely legal fans (when he was already in his late 30s) while on tour with his band and it just turned me right off of him.

  14. Meg says:

    I just think of how Jim Carrey acted on set when he played Andy Kaufman. Timothy oliphant said in an interview he thought it was narcissistic and exhausting which I totally agree with

  15. LIONE says:

    I kind of understand the need to immerse yourself fully and let go of yourself to become another person. But you are able to do that without being rude and difficult. I don’t have problems with people who want to stay in character as long as possible, because it can be extremely emotionally and physically tolling to jump in and out, depending on the scene and emotion, shooting frequencies ect.
    And also, actors should find the techniques and ways of working that works for them, we’re all different and need different things to be able to do work (any type of work, really).

    But there’s been this elevated status attached to never breaking out of character when filming a movie, and that’s when it starts to become problematic. Because once the human Ego sees a possible reward in higher status and more respect, it will start to take some liberties in the name of “work”.
    We see it all the time, really. Politicians, actors, artists, doctors.
    Abuse of power and a thirsty Ego wanting more recognition and acclaim. The British Monarchy are the BIGGEST method actors in the entire world, and we all seem to go along with it.

    The way to fix it: BOUNDARIES.
    When an actor is “method acting” and difficult it’s because someone is letting hin/her be that way. Structure and boundaries in the workplace is something I will die on a hill for protecting.
    As long as we keep treating people like they’re special and allowing them to constantly get what they want, they will keep doing it.

  16. MangoAngelesque says:

    I can understand people staying in character to a degree while they’re filming, if they’re in an accent that isn’t natural to them. Because it can be seriously awkward to drift in and out if a convincing accent constantly.

    Like when Tatiana Maslany was filming Orphan Black. The directors/creators said that in the first couple seasons especially, she would stay in the voice or accent of whatever clone she was playing in between takes, and that it was totally reasonable and they all supported it. Because how else could she keep it all straight and effective otherwise?

    But actors who have to alter their and everyone else’s lives to “embody” their character? It’s like they know they can’t act and do have to do elaborate things to be able to pull it off even a little. It makes them sound unhinged and bad at their jobs, not like artists who are just, like, suuuuper passionate about their craft.

  17. Noki says:

    I just watched WeCrashed and even though its a biopic/series Leto and Hatheway were insufferable.

    • iseepinkelefants says:

      The Neumann’s are insufferable. It helps that they got two insufferable people to play them.

  18. Eggbert says:

    Method acting is for white men who want an excuse to get away with being awful. It’s juvenile and always unnecessary.

  19. Songs (Or It Didn't Happen) says:

    Daniel Day Lewis believes in method acting, no? I remember stories about how he actually learned the knife work for Gangs of New York or lived as his character would have for Last of the Mohicans, some stuff he did when he was playing Lincoln, but I can’t recall any stories about him being an asshat about it. Maybe I missed them?

    • Dee says:

      I was an extra for several weeks on “The Crucible” lo these many years ago, and from what I saw DDL was perfectly pleasant. And I was standing next to him while he served himself some lemonade from a dispenser in the meal tent, so he clearly wasn’t obsessed with keeping everything authentically old-timey offscreen. 🙂

  20. AmelieOriginal says:

    This just makes me love him more! I have such a crush on him.

  21. J says:

    Such a great actor!