Earlier this year, Angelica Jade Bastien, writing in The Atlantic, posited that Hollywood Has Ruined Method Acting. Jared Leto was promoting Suicide Squad at the time, and he and his co-stars were telling stories about how he’d send dead rats or pigs to his co-stars, generally behaving like a lunatic because he was playing The Joker. And that behaviour was classified as “acting”. It was a few months after we had to endure an endless conversation about how much Leonardo DiCaprio suffered for his role in The Revenant. And Angelica Bastien noted that the marketing of that kind of “acting” has become how performances are legitimised and, eventually, awarded. That “method acting” is the “labour” of acting to prove that the Leos and the Letos of the world are hard-ass artists, proper dudes who grunt and sweat through their jobs as much as other men who brute through their jobs. The result, she argues, is that “the prestige of method acting has dimmed—thanks to the technique’s overuse by those seeking award-season glory or a reputation boost, as well as its history of being shaped by destructive ideas of masculinity”. Toxic male masculinity. We couldn’t get away from it this year, this f-cked up year. It’s even infected Charlie Hunnam. Thanks 2016. Why don’t you just keep on being an asshole, right to the very end?
Charlie talked to Entertainment Weekly (via Just Jared) about his work in the upcoming The Lost City Of Z. They shot in a remote location Colombia for five months. And I guess there was no email and no texting so initially he promised that he would write Morgana, his longtime girlfriend, his life partner, a letter every day. Here’s the rest of the story:
“We went to Colombia, and the mail system doesn’t really work very well,” Hunnam said. “It’s completely unreliable. I received a letter from her, and I realized that from the tone of it and things she was saying that she hadn’t received the two letters that I sent before.”
With timely letters not really in the cards, Hunnam decided to go even more Method in portraying the explorer-cum-absentee father Fawcett. He stopped writing altogether. “Which obviously makes me sound like a total bastard, appropriately so,” Hunnam said. “But I was very apologetic.”
The separation, however, helped Hunnam understand Percival Fawcett’s obsession. “One of the things that [director James Gray] and I felt strongly that we wanted to explore in the film,” Hunnam said, “was the conflict between family life and the exterior demands that are made on us and the social and economic demands that we all need to deal with in life, being balanced or in conflict with the internal drive, to be the people we want to be and achieve the things that we want to achieve.”
But where does that leave things with Hunnam and the girlfriend he promised to write to? Well, while Colombian mail system failed him, the jewel market did not.
“I had the benefit of shooting in Colombia, where they have rather lovely and somewhat cheap emeralds,” Hunnam says. “My girlfriend is a jewelry designer, so I was able to come back with an appropriately sized gift. It didn’t remedy all of the trouble I was in, but it got me halfway there.”
So Morgana lost contact with her partner for nearly half a year – by HIS choice and not hers. And, sure, he concedes that he was a “total bastard” for it but that, you know, he apologised with emeralds so that makes it halfway to OK.
On so many levels, bullsh-t.
Bullsh-t to the idea that in order to service the character and the story he had to neglect and hurt someone he loves. BULLSH-T. If you can’t find your motivation while living away from home, for that long, by simply missing your life and your friends and the people who love you, and you still need an extra shot of insensitivity to get there, maybe you’re not that great of an actor.
Bullsh-t to the apology gift of jewels to help with her job as some kind of atonement for how his job compelled him to temporarily abandon her. If she can manage to meet her career without disrespecting him, doing her a professional favour isn’t atonement for his professional selfishness.
And, mostly, bullsh-t to the way this is being shared, by him, so casually because he knows, HE KNOWS that this world is set up for him to get away with it, and received, by the reporter’s glib “smart man” comment at the end as implied condonation of said bullsh-t. Because if what we’re doing here is justifying how it was that he was able to depict his character’s “conflict between family life” by arbitrarily cutting off his partner in pursuit of a performance – a performance! – then would the same be acceptable if Charlie was a woman? If a woman were to go so method as to send dead animals to their colleagues or go AWOL on their partners, their families, for 5 months, and come back and shrug about it, like it’s a good anecdote, without having to cry and angst and express all the guilt with all the tears, would the reaction be the same? Sarah answered this in a tweet back in July:
A few words on Jared Leto and Viola Davis. pic.twitter.com/KVwtFAd4Xv— Sarah (@Cinesnark) July 25, 2016