Knowing where to draw the line between reality and one’s character can be a little difficult for actors every now and then as some have actually found themselves lost in the woods so to speak after they’ve completed the role. Realistically this can happen to just about anyone that has the task of creating something from nothing, but with actors, it tends to get just a little worse at times since the roles they have to take on might end up consuming them after a while as they have to forget who they are for just long enough to become someone else, and in a big way this can create problems that a lot of folks might think is a bunch of nonsense but is absolutely real. Fiction writers understand this as well since we tend to get lost or caught up in our stories every now and then and have trouble distinguishing what’s real and what’s only happening in our heads, so to state that we can understand, at least in part, where actors are coming from is enough to make it possible to empathize with them when it comes to the psychological effects that can come from working fiction. While some actors have had this happen while playing the roles of those that existed in real life, others have been affected for various other reasons in fictional roles by the machinations of others, but the effect is no less intense, and definitely required looking into.
Here are just a few actors that were psychologically affected by their roles.
5. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
It became widely known that playing the role of the Joker had affected Heath in a very profound way as after his unfortunate passing his journal was made a matter of public record and the things he wrote down while trying to get into character were absolutely haunting. The fact that he took this role in such a direction wasn’t seen as a negative, but the effect it had on him and the manner in which he leaped down the metaphorical rabbit hole headfirst was a tad bit disturbing since it showed that he had little to no regard for what he was doing to himself in the process, and in the end, it feels as though he went just a little too far.
4. Tippi Hedren – The Birds
It sounds as though Alfred Hitchcock had made amorous designs towards Tippi but was rebuffed, and her version of the story, which might be entirely true, was that Hitchcock then replaced several mechanical birds that were supposed to attack her with real, live birds. Added to that was the idea that he made her go through one take after another before finally deciding that he had what he wanted. This obviously traumatized Tippi to the point that she was through with acting as of the end of this movie, meaning that Hitchcock, if in fact he did do this on purpose, might have felt that his ego couldn’t take a woman telling him no.
3. Linda Blair – The Exorcist
This movie took a heavy toll on Linda both psychologically and physically since it almost wrecked her in both ways. Apparently there were many people calling for her to have a real exorcism performed on her after the movie was over and done with and people were absolutely relentless. It’s not too surprising that she tried to keep herself out of the spotlight for a while since otherwise, it’s likely that people would have ridden her about the movie for as long as they could in order to get a rise out of her.
2. Shelly Duvall – The Shining
All you can is poor Shelly since realistically Jack Nicholson and Danny Lloyd weren’t given the same treatment that Shelly received from Stanley Kubrick, who wanted her on edge, scared to death, and as strung out as possible since in the story Wendy is meant to be the one that’s emotionally falling apart. But the risk that Kubrick took in creating this kind of tension with Shelly went a little too far since her hair actually started falling out and the baseball bat scene eventually became a little too real for the liking of many people since Kubrick had succeeded in scraping Shelly’s nerves raw.
1. Val Kilmer – The Doors
This is probably one of the mildest cases since Val Kilmer took to singing every Doors song possible in order to get into the head of Jim Morrison, and in the end, he actually had to engage in therapy just to get the character off his mind. The fact that those that knew Jim said that Val knew the former singer better than he’d known himself is kind of hard to take seriously, but at the same time it’s not too hard to think that Kilmer might have very well been given a look into a mind that wasn’t his own, even if it was more of a series of glimpses than the whole thing.
Losing yourself is easy, it’s getting back that’s hard.