Leonardo DiCaprio did some gruesome stuff in “The Revenant.” Was it necessary? Probably not. Did he deserve an Oscar? Probably.
While the majority of America is focused on Leo and his long-awaited Oscar, many don’t realize that this performance will have consequences.
There is a long history of prominent actors who have gone above and beyond for their craft. Leo ate bison liver, crawled into an animal carcass and shot scenes in freezing rivers. Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway lost an extreme amount of weight for The Machinist and Les Miserables, respectively.
Such performances are to be commended, as they are produced by the most dedicated actors. But these actors chose to go above and beyond, to fully immerse themselves in their roles.
A problem begins to arise when these actions become expected. If Oscar-bait movies become movies that are shot in hyper-realistic ways, many other directors will follow suit.
A-list actors have enough weight that if a director starts to demand crazy things, they can push back.
But the majority of actors don’t have this ability. Most actors are next to powerless when it comes to their directors.
If you refuse to eat bison liver, odds are there are ten other actors within a square block radius who would die for your job.
So just like that, you’re out of work. Or, more often, you give into the director’s demands because you really, really want to keep your job.
So while these intensely realistic performances can be impressive, let’s not get so distracted that we forget one thing.
Acting…is acting. It isn’t real and it never will be.
The best actors can pull off an emotional performance while standing in front of a green screen.
They can’t see the burning building, they can’t smell the smoke, hear the screaming, but they don’t need to.
That is the power of imagination.