A PSA on Drug Use and the Dangers of Method Acting

This one is a hard one for me to write. I’ve cried almost the entire time I was collecting my gifs. As a casual drug user and having a background in theatre I’m probably a little too close to this topic, but it is a serious issue and something that crosses all paths of life. (On a totally unrelated side note: I just had to put on a long sleeve shirt to be comfortable! This is my favorite time of year!!) For those who are unaware of the jargon, method actors are those who don’t break character and they go deep into the psyche of their characters while working. It goes beyond just doing some extra research on certain subjects, or feeling “more like their character” once they get into costume or what have you. Method actors will go as far as only answering to their character name the entire time they’re shooting, they will adopt their characters behavioral traits, accents, mannerisms, style, eating habits, everything that would make their character a real person; they become their characters. There’s stories of Jared Leto sending morbid prank gifts to his cast-mates in Suicide Squad, including a live rat, bullets, a dead pig, anal beads, used condoms, sticky porno mags, & a love letter. Sean Penn lived in the trailer they had set up as Spicoli’s room in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and acted like a stoner the whole time they were shooting and would only answer to “Spicoli.” These of course are not extreme cases, but they’re just examples of how far some actors go to bring a character to life. 

There are so many other forms of acting that one can learn and grown in. The school I studied at teaches the Meisner technique, which can get confused for method acting, but it isn’t quite the same thing. The Meisner technique teaches one to find the motivation behind everything, and to focus more on a reaction to what’s happening around one, as opposed to one focusing on what’s happening to oneself. In most respects it does teach one to get out of their own head, but not so much so as to become another person. It’s about taking things that have happened in your life and using those experiences in conjunction with what the current situation is calling for and drawing on those experiences for your motivation. Method actors go farther and just immerse themselves completely into being that person instead of themselves. 

One of the most shocking instances of method acting going too far, at least in my opinion, was Heath Ledger’s death. He did so many intense jobs back to back with very little break in between and dove too deep into a psyche that he couldn’t shake. It was my belief from the start that all he wanted to do was get some sleep, which is near impossible to do when you’ve let yourself get that tweaked out playing a role like the Joker, and so well at that. I’ve only ever been able to watch this movie once; it took me years after it came out to get the nerve up to do it, and it was incredible. It was just so heartbreaking that I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it again. 

I’m one of his biggest fans, and he was such a fantastic actor, it’s even more heartbreaking to think of all the amazing things that he never got to do. He was so great at the dramatic roles that we hardly ever got to see his comedy in the later years, granted sometimes his Joker was hilarious, like when he runs away after blowing up the hospital ^. Here’s a little en memoriam to some of my favorites of him:

It’s no surprise that people who go into Showbiz tend to have some deeply seeded issues, for the most part that just seems to be the case, especially comedians (Please lets NOT talk about Robin Williams, it’s still too soon…for me). Those issues combined with money, and the “lifestyle,” drugs are just going to be in the picture. Some people in that sort of situation aren’t going to be able to control themselves, and no one around them is really going to tell them that they’re being excessive; some people even use their drug habits to their own advantage, which in itself is disgusting. I’m not trying to read into anyone’s lives, or attempt to fill in the blanks or justify anything, I’m just saying that these things happen, and when given every opportunity to, things will go horribly wrong. Some other famous people, who’s names and images you may remember, that were also taken from us too soon that suffered from drug related issues are:

As I mentioned before, I am a casual drug user. With my mind being as frantic as it is I tend to self medicate, and because I’m the offspring of two addicts, primarily alcoholics, my tolerance is sort of through the roof; add to that my addictive personality and need to turn my brain off, and Houston (no pun intended) we have a problem! I enjoy the occasional drink, I love to be high (even though smoking isn’t the best with my asthma, but brownies are THE BEST EVER), I enjoy the buzz I get from my sleeping pills before I pass out, and may the gods help me when I’m sick I will drink every bottle of Robitussin I can get my hands on! I relate a lot to Sherlock Holmes with regards to drug use. It’s better than being in my head without any type of stimulation. Where he “solves crimes as an alternative to getting high” (“Sherlock,” His Last Vow, BBC) I read and watch moves and TV to give my brain something “productive” to do. Otherwise I obsess, or I sink into myself and just eat myself alive.

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Drugs help me to be able to concentrate on other things, and actually not obsessively but in a fun and most times creative way. My mom always tells me that I see things so differently from other people she has no clue how I do it. I just tell her it’s because my brain is wired differently and I literally can’t see things the way other people do; which I guess is literally true. I like the elevated level of thinking, not so much the being blitzed out of my mind so that I can’t function and have no clue that I’m a human being let alone what that means. Normal people don’t understand why people do drugs and actually like to be “out of their minds.” From my experience, it’s because being “in their mind” is the worst place in the world to be. 

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I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve never OD’d or done any major damage to my body or mind over the years. I try to have a little bit of a “mind over matter” mindset when it comes to certain things; I never let myself get too fucked up, and I always try to stay mostly aware of my surroundings and retain my ability to take care of myself whenever I do anything. Even when I get drunk I’ve never blacked out or gotten hung over, I try to be smart with my drug use, and I don’t abuse it. It’s kind of like a diet, I allow myself to do it but not so much that I have to cut it out all together for my own health or safety. 

Like everything else in life, moderation is key. Very few things are that bad for you when done sparingly and in small quantities. I guess another super power of mine is self control, which comes from constantly having to have control of every aspect of myself. I almost have an inability to “let go,” but I don’t really see that as a bad thing, since I can still have fun and I’m not a stick in the mud. For some people though control is what the problem is. My mom for example can’t eat just one mini moon pie, she’ll eat the whole box; I remind her of her diabetes and that she should just treat herself to a pair of them if she needs more than one, but I guess they’re like Pringles and once you pop, you just can’t stop! In short, I’m not necessarily a drug advocate, but nor am I against the use of most drugs. There are some that I genuinely don’t understand the point of, meth and heroine for starters, but I don’t judge, most drug use is just a symptom of something else going on in someone’s life.

My mom, being the open-minded, drug using hippie she is, raised us to try what we wanted when we wanted, within reason, and always supervised. That way we never had a reason to rebel and make stupid, life threatening decisions. I never needed or wanted to sneak around and experiment with anything like my friends did. If I was curious about something, I asked, and when I was old enough I was asked if I’d like to try it.  Granted that didn’t keep me from abusing what I could already get my hands on, Tylenol PMS, caffeine pills, Excedrin Migraine, etc. However, having a completely open conversation from a young age about most of life’s issues I think is what saved me from a what could have been a ton of trouble. 

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Experiment safely; love you awesome nerds!

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