Method acting is a technique of acting in which an actor tries to immerse themselves in the character’s personality, emotions, and experiences, often staying in character even off-screen.
Method acting can produce powerful and realistic performances, but it can also be challenging and demanding for the actors. Here are seven African actors who put the method in method acting.
The Nigerian-British actor is known for his versatile and nuanced roles in films such as 12 Years a Slave, The Martian, and Doctor Strange.
For his role as Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 12 Years a Slave, Ejiofor spent months researching the history of slavery and learning how to play the violin.
He also endured physical hardships such as hanging from a tree and being whipped on set. Ejiofor said that he wanted to “honor Solomon’s experience” and “connect to his soul”.
The Kenyan-Mexican actress rose to fame with her Oscar-winning debut performance as Patsey, a slave who suffered brutal abuse at the hands of her master in 12 Years a Slave.
Nyong’o prepared for the role by reading slave narratives, visiting plantations, and practicing picking cotton.
She also isolated herself from the rest of the cast and crew to feel the loneliness and desperation of her character. Nyong’o said that playing Patsey was “the most difficult thing I’ve ever done” and that she had to “go to some dark places within myself”.
The Ugandan-British actor is best known for his roles in Get Out, Black Panther, and Judas and the Black Messiah.
For his role as Fred Hampton, the charismatic leader of the Black Panther Party who was assassinated by the FBI in Judas and the Black Messiah, Kaluuya spent months studying Hampton’s speeches, mannerisms, and ideology.
He also met with Hampton’s family and friends, and even took up smoking to emulate Hampton’s voice. Kaluuya said that he felt “a huge responsibility” to portray Hampton accurately and respectfully.
The South African actress is renowned for her ability to transform herself physically and emotionally for her roles.
For her role as Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer who was executed for murdering seven men in Monster, Theron gained 30 pounds, shaved her eyebrows, wore prosthetic teeth, and used makeup to create a rough and aged appearance.
She also studied Wuornos’s interviews, court transcripts, and letters to get into her mindset. Theron said that she wanted to “find the human being” behind the monster.
The American actor, who has Nigerian ancestry, is acclaimed for his portrayals of historical figures such as Idi Amin, Cecil Gaines, and Zuri.
For his role as Idi Amin, the notorious dictator of Uganda who was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in The Last King of Scotland, Whitaker learned Swahili, mastered Amin’s accent and body language, and stayed in character even when the cameras were not rolling.
He also met with Amin’s relatives, former generals, and victims to understand his personality and motivations. Whitaker said that he tried to “comprehend” Amin rather than “condemn” him.
The Nigerian-British actress is celebrated for her roles in Hotel Rwanda, The Secret Life of Bees, and Ratched.
For her role as Tatiana Rusesabagina, the wife of Paul Rusesabagina who saved over a thousand people during the Rwandan genocide in Hotel Rwanda, Okonedo visited Rwanda and spoke to survivors of the genocide.
She also learned how to speak Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda, and wore traditional Rwandan clothing. Okonedo said that she felt “a great sense of duty” to tell Tatiana’s story with “authenticity and dignity”.
The British actor, who has Sierra Leonean and Ghanaian roots, is famous for his roles in Luther, The Wire, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
For his role as Nelson Mandela, the legendary anti-apartheid activist and president of South Africa in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Elba spent months researching Mandela’s life, reading his books, listening to his speeches, and meeting with his family and friends.
He also learned how to speak Xhosa, Mandela’s native language, and spent a night in Robben Island prison where Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. Elba said that playing Mandela was “a massive challenge” and “a real honor”.
Source: The Independent Ghana