Actors that Successfully Transformed Themselves or Not

        Actors sometimes put too much of themselves into a play or movie. They end up with drinking and drug problems from not being able to handle the role, such as Heath Ledger, who fatally overdosed because he was taking so many drugs due to the dark part of the Joker he was playing in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan. He is definitely not the first actor to have that problem, and he will not be the last. A couple actors in movies seen in class threw themselves too hard into their roles, and different actors in similar roles transformed in more or less effectively ways.

        I think that both Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh put all of themselves into their parts in Elia Kazan’s 1951 movie of Tennessee Williams’ 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire. I think that Vivien Leigh really became Blanche. The actress put so much of herself into the movie that she ended up having a nervous breakdown. Brando completely overtook the screen. He made the part so much of himself that do not think one could not look at him and see Stanley. He dominated the part so much, that, if it were played by anyone else, it would not have the same feel. People today are still trying to mimic the way he calls Stella. I think that Vivien Leigh did such a good job because most people only see her as Scarlett from Victor Fleming’s 1939 Gone with the Wind, based on Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 book. I did not even realize that it was the same actress until we were discussing her role.

        This is unlike Jane Fonda in Joseph Losey’s 1973 movie of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 A Doll’s House. I do not think that she transformed herself into Nora at all. I do not think that she made a very good Nora. She was hyper as she was in the book, but that was all. She was too independent for the part. She did not seem afraid of Torvald as she was supposed to be. However, Anthony Hopkins did an excellent job as Torvald in Patrick Garland’s 1973 movie. Hopkins overtook the part and made it his own. He definitely was more like the Torvald in the book than was David Warner in Losey’s versions.

        Likewise, Audrey Hepburn was an excellent Eliza Doolittle in George Cukor’s 1964 My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 Pygmalion. She effectively performed the part of Eliza after her transformation in to a beautiful lady, but she was not so good as the flower girl Eliza as was Wendy Hiller in Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard’s 1938 Pygmalion.

Samantha Andersson

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