For many the term “method acting” is still unknown, and even if it’s known, not lot of people pay attention to it. For starters let’s start with, as I call it, "anatomy".
What is method acting
“Method acting is a range of training and rehearsal techniques that seek to encourage sincere and emotionally expressive performances, as formulated by a number of different theatre practitioners.”
In other and much easier words, method acting is immersing yourself in the role given so much that you start to live the role.
This specific term was established in first half of the 20th century by the amazing Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski, who is till this day known to be the “father” of the method acting technique or system.
There are three elements to method acting:
1. psychological aspect
2. sociological aspect
3. behavioral aspect
If an actor/actress is capable of mixing all three elements together then the outcome would be perfect method acting.
Method acting in S. Korea
The term was brought to light by Bang Eun Jin, script writer and director of the 2017 movie Method. Before the movie launched many were frustrated because of the movie title, which had to be explained by Ms. Bang herself.
For those who have never heard of this movie, the movie describes a method actor, Jae Ha, who mostly acts in musicals. He is easily cast in the musical “Unchained” with a rookie idol actor, Yong Woo, who is arrogant and lazy. The musical rehearsals keep rolling but both men seem too into their roles….
Many people simply put this movie in a “must watch” list because of the obvious homosexual plot-line which was a huge deal-breaker in Korea. For the first time a pure homosexual movie would be played on a big screen, so fans all over the world went absolutely crazy. It went so badly that the production company sued people who illegally recorded the movie in cinemas.
The director had a fan meeting after the first viewing of the movie and answered some of the fans' questions. The most obvious was “Are they really gay?” to which the director in a very weird way replied, “No, this movie isn’t a gay movie, it’s a movie about method acting”, implying that the “relationship” between Jae Ha and Yong Woo was not real. Many fans were devastated, some even “forgot” about the interview and still till this day think that it’s a BL movie. Yes, I was mad too, but in a way, the director showed us a cruel reality.
Method acting is powerful enough to change an actor's mindset to extreme levels. It’s so powerful that it can even change beliefs.
With this movie Ms. Bang clearly said that somehow, even love can be fake and staged. The ending was very open and vague but the director said that she does not plan a sequel in the near future.
And now you can kinda understand where the “fake love” BTS came from….
Let’s move on from 2017 to 2018 and this time with a Korean drama called Time. For those who read my articles or are simply on MDL you know how much I actually love this drama, but this time I won’t flatter it but talk about the real stuff.
Before a drama is aired there is a press conference which is attended by all main lead actors, and with this drama it was Seohyun and Kim Jung Hyun, who is known to be a promising actor with a lot of potential.
Jung Hyun grabbed the hearts of fans from all over the world with his supporting role in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People and his main role in Laughter in Waikiki, so no one knew what would happen at the press conference.
If you didn’t see the conference here are the snippets, which I will be talking about….
It’s obvious that Jung Hyun was not in the mood to talk nor hold hands with anyone. His gaze was stoic and almost gave the feeling of death? In my words, his mind was simply not there. After the photos were released the response was huge and it divided people into two groups.
Group A thinks that Jung Hyun is an arrogant bastard and Group B thinks that Jung Hyun was still suffering the after effect of method acting. Yes, I think you know in which group I belong.
The battle went on and on between the two groups and the low ratings did not help at all. Many think that the low rating was because of the fact that it’s an “idol drama” and others didn’t watch it because of the “conference controversy”.
The actual indirect answer came 26.8.2018 with following statement
“Actor Kim Jung Hyun is inevitably leaving due to health problems. Until now, Kim Jung Hyun has filmed while simultaneously receiving treatment as he had strong determination to not cause trouble for the drama. The production team also accommodated for the actor’s determination as much as possible, doing the best so he could complete the drama with necessary measures like schedule adjustments.”
The agency continued, “However, due to the doctor’s recent diagnosis that he needs psychological and physical rest, his departure has been decided after much discussion with the production team.”
“The actor is very heartbroken himself as he unintentionally caused trouble for the viewers who love the drama ‘Time,’ the production team, and his fellow actors. He will focus on his treatment and recovery and do his best to show better sides of himself in the future,” the statement concludes.
For those who say “well, it could have developed later as the drama was shot….” the answer is no. Such psychological trauma cannot develop in a short span of time, but it takes months. For me, this was a clear answer that while he was in the conference, he was still suffering.
Time is a very difficult drama to portray, because there is so much sadness and loss that some people just give up and break down. The plot describes how people with terminal illness feel and live which is very heartbreaking and sad at the same time. Jung Hyun developed an eating disorder along with a sleeping disorder. It broke my heart when in one episode his character Cheon Soo Ho said the following words….
“I have no right to sleep nor eat.”
The words hit me hard to the core and I realized that Jung Hyun took this role way too far. In BTS videos you can see how other actors smiled after difficult scenes but his expression never changed, making it look like Cheon Soo Ho never left him.
This is a very real and scary case of how method acting can go pretty wrong. For now, I wish Jung Hyun the best and I really hope that he will get through this and realize what is real and what is only a fantasy made by the scriptwriter.
These were just two examples of method acting, but they are very important to mention. I hope that fans of dramas/movies pay more attention to actors in this way as well. Yes, it’s amazing to tackle the role with confidence, but it’s dangerous to start living the character. That’s the reason to give the actors a rest before you ask for a new drama/movie.