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29+ Actors Who Over-Prepared for Their Roles and Others Who Came in Blind


| LAST UPDATE 09/05/2023

By Donna Odell

From Margot Robbie to Hugh Jackman, some of Hollywood's most esteemed celebrities have opened up about getting into character. Here's a closer look at who did their homework - and who didn't!

Overprepared - Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

To perhaps no one's surprise, Lady Gaga amazed viewers with her role of Patrizia Reggiani. The superstar went to extreme measures to prepare for the role - making sure it was nothing short of captivating.

Method Acting Lady GagaMethod Acting Lady Gaga
Marco Piraccini/Archivio Marco Piraccini/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Gaga spoke in an Italian accent for a year and a half to prepare for her role as the Italian socialite in House of Gucci! She also confessed to watching countless clips of panthers and foxes and trying to "live in a way whereby anything that [she] looked at, [she] started to take notice, and where and when [she] could see money."

Underprepared - Kit Harington, Pompeii

Known as Jon Snow in the iconic HBO series, Game of Thrones, Kit Harrington arrived onset of the 2014 film Pompeii having done absolutely zero research on the city's history. This comes as a major shock, considering he slays as the Warden of the North.

Method Actors Kit HaringtonMethod Actors Kit Harington
 Film District/Kobal via Shutterstock

Once the film wrapped up, Harrington decided to take a trip to the city he probably should have visited well before production began! The actor was cast in various roles throughout his time on Game of Thrones, but he is most famously known for his iconic role as Jon Snow, where he was completely invested in his role.

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Overprepared - Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Based on the Stieg Larsson novel and adapted by David Fincher for the big screen, Rooney Mara was cast as the main lead in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The actress completely changed her look for her role as Lisabeth Salander, as she chopped off and dyed her hair black, bleached her eyebrows, and got some new piercings.

Rooney Mara Dragon TattooRooney Mara Dragon Tattoo
 Ibl via Shutterstock

It didn't stop there. The actress moved to Stockholm on her own before filming began and took up some new hobbies. She began motorbike riding, skateboarding, and martial arts - but considering the film is rather dark, she also came home with a few bruises. Still, according to Mara, "I couldn't imagine my life without doing it."

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Underprepared - Viggo Mortensen, The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

It must be challenging to replace another actor right before filming begins, and this star is no exception! Viggo Mortenson joined The Lord of The Rings family as Aragorn to replace another actor - but he felt genuinely underprepared for the role, as the rest of the cast had been preparing for months.

Aragorn Lord of RingsAragorn Lord of Rings
Moviestore via Shutterstock

During an interview, Mortensen said, "I felt unprepared. The other actors had been there for weeks and months, in some cases preparing for the arduous task of shooting the whole trilogy. I also felt awkward because I'd never been in a position of replacing another actor."

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Overprepared - Jamie Foxx, Ray

Jamie Foxx took his role as Ray Charles all too seriously in the movie Ray. The actor wore prosthetic eyelids for 14 hours a day so his eyes would be glued shut, making him blind essentially. In an interview with The New York Times, Foxx shared that he experienced panic attacks due to the "unsettling, claustrophobic feeling."

Method Actors Jamie FoxxMethod Actors Jamie Foxx
 Moviestore via Shutterstock

Already a musically talented soul, Foxx learned all of Ray's songs on the piano to further connect to Ray Charles, known as "The Genius" of Blues and R&B/Soul. As for Jamie Foxx, it all turned out in his favor. The dedicated method actor won an Academy Award for Best Actor that year.

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Underprepared - Billy Burke, Twilight

A special shoutout to all the Twilight fans reading this! Billy Burke, Bella Swan's father, Charlie was one of the only non-vampire or non-werewolf characters in the series. So for him, getting into character might have looked a tad different than, say, Edward Cullen AKA Robert Pattinson or Jacob AKA Taylor Lautner.

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YouTube via The Twilight Saga

Burke never even read or even heard of the Stephenie Meyer books based on the films before they started filming! According to him, he doesn't "have the attention span" to finish a book, and he would "rather not know" the information in the books.

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Overprepared - Christopher Lee, The Lord of the Rings

Christopher Lee was made for his role as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings. Or at least that's how the actor viewed it. Lee was a huge fan of the series, would reread the trilogy each year, and took wizard acting roles to prove he would be the right choice!

Saruman Lord of Rings Saruman Lord of Rings
Pierre Vinet/New Line/Saul Zaentz/Wing Nut/Kobal via Shutterstock

The actor even wrote a personal letter to director Peter Jackson asking for a part in the movie and sent him photos of himself dressed as a wizard to prove his dedication to the role further. Christopher Lee was also the only actor to meet Tolkien, the mastermind author behind the fantasy novels.

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Underprepared - Hugh Jackman, X-Men

We know and love Hugh Jackman for all his roles, even those he is less prepared for! Jackman came in late to the X-Men game as he replaced Dougray Scott as Wolverine. The actor was only given three weeks' notice to get into shape for the coveted role!

Hugh Jackman X MenHugh Jackman X Men
20th Century Fox/Kobal via Shutterstock

Becoming a household name as Wolverine, Jackman came onto the first film with absolutely no knowledge of the X-Men comics beforehand! Uh-Oh! However, despite not being in "Wolverine Shape," the actor got it together and starred as Wolverine/Logan in nine X-Men films.

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Overprepared - Brie Larson, Room

Brie Larson decided the best way to prepare for her role as the young captive mother in the 2015 film Room was to hold herself captive in her house for a whole month before shooting began. The actress even met with psychologists to give her more insight into the trauma of captivity.

Method Actors Brie LarsonMethod Actors Brie Larson
Caitlin Cronenberg/Element/No Trace Camping/Kobal via Shutterstock

Larson spent time with her onscreen son Jacob Tremblay before they began filing to further their bond - and even made some of the toys that appeared in the film. Together they wrote diary entries and created collages as her character does. In the end, it all paid off as she won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2016.

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Underprepared - Michael Gambon, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban

Known as having one of the most prestigious roles of all time, Michael Gambon had the great pleasure of playing Albus Dumbledore for many years -even after he came in totally unprepared to play the part! The Hogwarts headmaster replaced the late Richard Harris in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Harry Potter Dumbledore SceneHarry Potter Dumbledore Scene
IMDB via Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Despite landing the coveted role of Dumbledore, Gambon joined the cast without even reading a book! According to the Harry Potter actor, he found there was "No point in reading the books because you're playing with [screenwriter] Steve Kloves' words." Well, it seemed to work in his favor for many years to follow!

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Overprepared - Dustin Hoffman, Marathon Man

Dustin Hoffman is "an actor with the everyman's face who embodied the heartbreakingly human," according to fellow actor Robert De Niro. With his commitment to his roles and achievements in acting, the Marathon Man actor did everything he could to live up to his role as Thoman "Babe" Levy.

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Dustin Hoffman decided the best way to portray a sleep-deprived Thomas Levy was to deprive himself of sleep for 72 hours, just like his character. When his co-star Laurence Olivie heard about his radical dedication to the character, he said to Hoffman, "My dear boy, why don't you just try acting?" He has a point, no?

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Underprepared - Michael J. Fox, Back To The Future

Michael J. Fox was initially not supposed to play the character he most famously became known for. At first, Eric Stolz had the coveted role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future. But then in 1985, Michael J. Fox became the household name behind the iconic film.

Back To Future MartyBack To Future Marty
Universal/Kobal via Shutterstock

The young actor at the time came onto the set only a few weeks into filming, taking over the highly praised role, and now we cant imagine Marty McFly as anyone else! The now-retired actor opened up in an interview with AARP Magazine about his role as Marty McFly, saying he finally now "got the spirit of the movie."

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Overprepared - Richard Gere, Time Out Of Mind

Having played some of the strongest roles in Hollywood, Richard Gere is known for his iconic work in Pretty Woman - as well as the 2014 film Time Out of Mind. However, while in Pretty Woman, he falls in love with Julia Roberts, in Time Out of Mind, he plays a homeless man living on the streets of NYC.

Richard Gere Method ActingRichard Gere Method Acting
 Alison Rosa/Blackbird/Cold Iron/Lightstream/Kobal via Shutterstock

Gere worked with the Coalition for Homeless, spoke with homeless people, and learned about their experiences and difficulties living on the streets. He decided not to wear a wig, beard, or sunglasses during the filming and just be Richard Gere in the center of Grand Central Station, but only two people recognized him throughout.

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Underprepared - Ewan McGregor, Beauty And The Beast

Ewan McGregor, unfortunately, was one of those unprepared actors for his part in Beauty and the Beast. The iconic film from our childhood was turned into a live-action cinematographic ensemble in 2017, starring Emma Watson as Belle and Ewan McGregor as Lumiere. However, one may have been slightly more prepared than the other…

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Disney/Kobal via Shutterstock

The Scottish actor had difficulty covering his thick accent in the film, often letting his Scottish twang interfere with the composed French accent he was supposed to have! In addition, the actor hadn't sung in a movie since the 2001 musical Moulin Rouge, and he reprised his singing role in the Disney film.

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Overprepared - Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

The magnificent Margot Robbie continues to prove time and time again that she can seemingly do it all! The Australian actress put in countless hours of hard work and dedication to make sure her role as a figure skater in I, Tonya was nothing less than perfect.

Margot Robbie I TonyaMargot Robbie I Tonya
Moviestore via Shutterstock

During an interview with ESPN, Robbie opened up about her experiences training to be a figure skater for her role. "Learning to skate from scratch as an actor is a whole different ball game because you have a limited amount of time to master [a skill] that has taken years to develop as a competitive skater," she said.

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Underprepared - Peter Weller, Robocop

Famously known for his role in Robocop, Petter Weller has acted in over 70 films and television series during his time in Hollywood. The actor actually came into Robocop prepared to play his part - but in the end, it wasn't even his fault for the lack of under-preparedness!

Robocop Peter Weller Actor Robocop Peter Weller Actor
Moviestore via Shutterstock

To become well adjusted to the robotic suit, Weller requested to receive the outfit prior to shooting. Unfortunately, the suit was not ready until right before the shooting began, leaving him no time to get used to the movements. As a result, production was put to a halt so he could familiarize himself with the costume.

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Overprepared - Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Natalie Portman stole the show as Nina Sayers in her groundbreaking performance in the 2010 Drama/Thriller film Black Swan. Portman took her role as a ballerina very seriously and rigorously prepared for months to pull it off. She most definitely did - as she took home the Academy Award for best actress the following year!

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Moviestore via Shutterstock

During an interview, Portman recalled her experience prepping for the role, saying, "There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die. It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down."

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Underprepared - Christopher Plummer, All the Money In The World

Christopher Plummer had barely any time to prepare for his role in All the Money in the World, but his superb acting skills definitely came in handy. The actor took over for Kevin Spacey once the film was basically finished, leaving Plummer basically no time to prepare for the role.

Overprepared Actors Christopher PlummerOverprepared Actors Christopher Plummer
Moviestore via Shutterstock

Knowing virtually nothing about the Getty family or the character, he filmed his entire role in just nine days! "I really followed the script and Ridley's suggestions, which weren't many because there wasn't much time," he later recalled. Despite the little prep, Plummer was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting actor.

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Overprepared - Demi Moore, G.I. Jane

Before there were G.I. Jada jokes, there was Demi Moore in her title role as G.I. Jane. Moore didn't take this part lightly, and to prepare for her intense role, she trained with a former Navy Seal to mentally and physically prepare herself for what was to come.

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Trap-Two-Zero/Hollywood Pics/Kobal via Shutterstock

During an interview regarding her training in G.I. Jane, Moore said, "I could have come in and asked to let the stuntwoman do the obstacle course. But I felt I would have walked away having missed an opportunity to experience, first-hand, what these people actually go through in training."

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Underprepared - Marlon Brando, Apocalypse Now

This Francis Ford Coppola movie had quite a lot of BTS drama - from the expensive sets destroyed by unpredictable weather to Marlon Brando's unwarranted behavior. However, it still remains one of Hollywood's top films. Allegedly, the actor showed up completely underprepared on his first day on set, forcing Coppola to make some edits.

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Zoetrope/United Artists/Kobal via Shutterstock

Apparently, after refusing to show up to the first four days of shooting, the Apocalypse Now actor eventually emerged overweight and with a 'tude. When asked to shave his head for the role, he said he would "sleep on it" before showing up the next day having done it.

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Overprepared - Tom Cruise, Interview With The Vampire

The late Anne Rice was quite unhappy with Hollywood's choice to cast one of the world's biggest heartthrobs in the film adaptation of Interview With The Vampire back in 1994. In return, Tom Cruise was quite unhappy with the criticism and did everything he could to prove her wrong.

Tom Cruise Method ActingTom Cruise Method Acting
Francois Duhamel/Geffen/Kobal via Shutterstock

Cruise took the role of Lestat de Lioncourt to heart, read all of Rice's books, dropped a ton of weight, learned piano, and even moved to Paris to familiarize himself with the hedonistic lifestyle. In the end, it all worked out, as Rice, later on, commented, "I think Tom did a wonderful job, I really do."

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Underprepared - Tom Hardy, Bronson

Based on the true story of Charles Bronson, one of the most violent prisoners according to the British tabloids, Tom Hardy portrayed the hardcore criminal. However, according to the real-life Bronson, he came a little underprepared for the film. What happened?

Tom Hardy Famous RolesTom Hardy Famous Roles
Kobal via Shutterstock

Hardy met the convicted felon in person and had multiple phone conversations with Bronson. But apparently, the prisoner was unimpressed with how he was portrayed on the big screen. The convict was not allowed to see the film until a few years after being released, but he eventually called it "theatrical, creative, and brilliant."

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Overprepared - Charlize Theron, Monster

In the 2003 film, Monster, Charlize Theron did everything she could to make sure she would kill it as Aileen Wuornos in the film based on the true-crime story. The actress even gained 30 pounds to prepare for the role saying, "I knew I had to transform my body to get myself into her physical skin — the way she moved in her body."

Charlize Theron Monster RoleCharlize Theron Monster Role
Moviestore via Shutterstock

In the end, the actress turned convicted felon won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Monster - so perhaps those 30 extra pounds were worth it! However, in an interview with Mirror, she explained she is now over method acting, saying, "It's so f******* exhausting."

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Underprepared - James McAvoy, X-Men: First Class

Joining fellow X-Men actor Hugh Jackman is James McAvoy, who was well underprepared for his role in X-Men: First Class. McAvoy killed it as Professor X in the film, but he showed up to set the first day under the assumption he had to look one way when he actually was needed to look the complete opposite!

James McAvoy X MenJames McAvoy X Men
Moviestore via Shutterstock

The actor assumed he would follow suit in Patrick Stewart's portrayal of Professor X, so he arrived on set the first day with a shaved head! Thinking he was a few steps ahead, it turned out the studio didn't want him to have a shaved head, and they actually wanted him to have a luscious head of hair! Uh-Oh!

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Overprepared - Robert Pattinson, Good Time

It comes as no surprise Robert Pattinson took his preparations for Good Time to new extremes. The brilliant actor is known for his commitment to method acting and passion for the craft that is acting - and his portrayal as criminal Connie Nikas was no different.

Method Actors Rob PattinsonMethod Actors Rob Pattinson
Elara Pictures/Kobal via Shutterstock

According to Pattinson, "I never opened my curtains, didn't change the sheets the entire time I was there, for those two months, and I would just sleep in my clothes." He decided to prepare for his role by living in a basement in Harlem, the same one seen in Good Time, and it was all worth it, as the film received raving reviews!

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Underprepared - Paul Bettany, Iron Man

Known as portraying Vision and voicing JARVIS in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films Iron Man (and all the sequels), the British actor was actually underprepared for his major role. Marvel fans will be sad to hear Paul Bettany didn't do much research on the Marvel Universe before becoming Tony Stark's sidekick.

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Marvel Studios/Kobal via Shutterstock

The actor showed up to set the first day without doing any research on his character or reading any of the Marvel comic books. We're not sure if that's brilliant or just plain old unprepared? But it worked in his favor in the end, as the actor became a staple in the Iron Man films for years to come.

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Overprepared - Jennifer Hudson, Respect

R-E-S-P-E-C-T is all we're seeing for this next overprepared actress! A living legend, Jennifer Hudson, was handpicked by Aretha Franklin herself to play her in the biopic, Respect, years before she had passed away. The two met every week for a few years, making the role perfectly tailored for her.

Method Actors Jennifer HudsonMethod Actors Jennifer Hudson
Kristin Callahan/ACE Pictures via Shutterstock

In order to best capture the soul-singing legend, Jennifer Hudson did everything she could to make sure she would do Aretha justice. The actress carefully studied old recorded footage of the singer performing and worked with a vocal and movement coach.

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Underprepared - Ewan McGregor, Emma

This actor was the first to admit he didn't do his best in the Romantic drama film Emma. Similar to some actors and opposite from a few more, Ewan McGregor disappointed fans when arriving to set without even reading Jane Austen's book Emma. That wouldn't fly in Jane Austen's era!

Method Actors Ewan McGregorMethod Actors Ewan McGregor
 David Appleby/Matchmaker/Miramax/Kobal via Shutterstock

McGregor called the film the worst thing he'd done professionally, saying his "decision-making was wrong," and it was "the only time I've [he's] done that," but that he's learned from it. He admitted he took the role because he "thought [he] should be seen to be doing something different from Trainspotting."

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Overprepared - Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot

Considered one of the greatest actors of our time, Daniel Day-Lewis prepared for his role in My Left Foot in ways only a brilliant methodical actor would. The actor portrayed an Irish man born with cerebral palsy, so the Hollywood star made sure to do his research before shooting began.

Method Actors Daniel LewisMethod Actors Daniel Lewis
ITV via Shutterstock

The actor would go to clinics and speak with disabled patients to better understand his role. Lewis would go so far as to refuse to stand up from his prop wheelchair on set! He eventually admitted he went "totally mad" and that this method was "not so good for my physical or mental health."

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Underprepared - Sabrina Carpenter, Work It

It almost wasn't this actress's fault for coming unprepared to set this time! Sabrina Carpenter starred in Netflix's film, Work It as an awkward teenager dedicated to excelling in dance who eventually competes in a competition. However, like her character, the actress was a first-time dancer - and viewers could just tell.

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Elly Dassas/Netflix/Kobal via Shutterstock

Her character was supposed to be a first-time dancer, so it kind of worked in her defense! However, Carpenter didn't take any dance lessons before they started shooting the Netflix movie, so she ended up looking like the awkward dancer she was playing!

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