Many people have opinions about method acting without truly understanding what it entails. It’s not the idea that an actor should always act in character and be rude to everyone around them for the sake of the art. The approach created by Russian theatrical director and actor Konstantin Stanislavsky evolved into method acting. The concept was introduced to the country by the Group Theatre, whose members Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Sanford Meisner all had their own unique interpretations of it. Adler’s strategy advocated the use of both research and creativity when creating a performance. Meisner shifted his attention to conduct, most notably by repeatedly repeating phrases until their original meaning was lost.
Then there is Lee Strasberg, who is credited with creating what is known as the Method. Affective memory underlay Strasberg’s entire scheme. When you perform a scene, you use your personal experiences and impressions of a comparable circumstance to add to the drama. Whether this is a successful acting style or merely psychologically harmful is a hot topic of discussion. The technique was fiercely opposed by Adler and Meisner, but once Strasberg was appointed creative director of the Actors Studio, it came to be known as the Method. Importantly, however, it does not entail acting always in character because it is illogical to recall dialogue and behave impromptu at the same time.
The following time a “method actor” causes trouble on set, just remember it’s not because of that. They are simply rude. After all, thousands of actors have entered the Performers Studio to study the methods developed by Stanislavsky, Strasberg, and others, where you won’t find horror stories about actors’ bad behaviour on set. For instance, you haven’t read about Bradley Cooper delivering dead rats or anything else to his castmates when he graduated from the Actors Studio’s MFA programme. Cooper did complete his studies at the Studio, but he chose not to participate in the ceremony because he was busy filming a movie that no one would link with method acting.
From the Method to Michael Ian Black
I skipped the graduation ceremony for my college. Simply put, I did not find the pageantry appealing. I didn’t skip it so I could be in a comedy that defined a generation. But Bradley Cooper did precisely that. James Lipton, who was dean at the time, stated he was unable to present Cooper with his diploma because he was away filming a movie when Cooper visited his old Actors Studio haunts to sit opposite from him on “Inside the Actors Studio” in 2011. Cooper gave the following explanation when asked why:
“I was having sex with Michael Ian Black in a sports shed in ‘Wet Hot American Summer.'”
Cooper’s debut motion picture was “Wet Hot American Summer.” Ben, the director of the camp’s theatre programme, was the character he portrayed at camp. The juxtaposition between Zak Orth and A.D. Miles’ characters engaging in the camp movie cliché of ogling the female counsellors in bikinis is one of the movie’s more memorable moments. While everything is going on, their pal Michael Ian Black hides out with his boyfriend in a shed for an intense sex scene. It is one of the funniest scenes in the movie because it is so sincerely funny. Cooper said the following during a “Late Night with Seth Meyers” interview:
“The joke of that scene was to make it, like, the one serious scene in the whole movie. Like, the whole movie is jokes, and that one scene is dead [serious], shot seriously, lit well … It was like Hal Ashby did it.”
Even though he had to skip his graduation to work on “Wet Hot American Summer,” he was able to launch his successful career as a result. Even after graduating from the programme, he was able to appear on “Inside the Actors Studio,” which is something that not many people have done. Even more so for those who, like Cooper, had previously sat in on the programme as a student audience member. He may be seen in the episodes asking Sean Penn and Robert De Niro questions and paying close attention to Steven Spielberg.
Now, he’s too busy for Wet Hot
Bradley Cooper missed his graduation to work on “Wet Hot American Summer,” but now that he is so in demand, finding time for the project was challenging. Two limited series based on the movie were made possible by Netflix thanks to David Wain and Michael Showalter: the prologue “First Day of Camp” (which I like better than the movie) and the follow-up “Ten Years Later” (which I very much do not). Cooper had already received several Oscar nominations by the time the series was created. It was hard to get him into the show.
Even though he obviously did not have much time to be there, he showed up for “First Day of Camp.” At one point, his character Ben dons a ski mask and introduces himself as DJ Ski Mask. So long as Cooper wasn’t around, anyone could don the mask and pretend to be Ben. We still got to see Cooper on film alongside Michael Ian Black and theatre department colleague Amy Poehler, and it was a wonderful meta joke. “Ten Years Later” cannot be claimed to be the same. Ben essentially spends the entire series in one room, which was clearly created as a joke to block shot Cooper as quickly as possible while they had him. Cooper was entirely unavailable, so they decided to substitute Adam Scott instead, stating Scott underwent extensive plastic surgery. Cooper’s disappearance could have been explained with a clever joke, but they decided to stick with the plot in which he doesn’t actually leave the room. The entire situation becomes awkward and empty when the hat is placed on top of the other hat. This decision highlighted how poorly thought out most of “Ten Years Later” seemed.
If they ever got a chance to make a third limited series and have Cooper come back, maybe they could salvage it. It would be hilarious if Ben underwent plastic surgery once more to restore his original face. He did, after all, go back to the Actors Studio. Why can’t he return to “Wet Hot American Summer”?