Sometimes, acting on the big screen might seem like a walk in the park. You get paid well, you’re famous, and you get to enjoy all of the perks of being a Hollywood star. Yet, it’s easy to forget how stressful acting can be on an individual’s psyche when they spend months (and sometimes even years) essentially living as someone else. This can become even more detrimental if the film or the character they’re portraying is especially dark, twisted, or highly emotional. Actors don’t always get to just walk away from a character, so take a look at some actors that were deeply affected after playing a certain role.
Val Kilmer – The Doors
Val Kilmer starred as rock and roll icon Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s 1991 The Doors. While there was some controversy regarding the content of the film, there was no denying that Kilmer brought Morrison back from the dead. He learned to sing 50 of The Doors’ songs, spending countless hours in the studio watching interviews and studying Morrison’s mannerisms.
He asked to be called Jim on set and apparently, the line between Kilmer and Morrison became blurred to the point that he needed therapy to get him out. Producer Paul Rothchild, who was a friend of Morrison’s, said that Kilmer knew him better than Jim knew himself.
Bob Hoskins – Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Bob Hoskins played the alcoholic PI Eddie Valiant in the live-action/animated comedy Who Framed Roger Rabbit. While the film may have been light-hearted and even meant for children, it took an extreme toll on Hoskins, who was forced to act along with other characters that weren’t even there.
During filming, he said that he “learned how to hallucinate” that the characters were there to make it more believable. Yet, it got to the point that Hoskin’s hallucinations followed him off the set which in turn led to his doctor recommending he take a break from acting.
James Cromwell – Babe
James Cromwell appeared as one of the main characters in Babe. While the talking pig stole the show, the film had a deep impact on Cromwell, leading him to become a vegan. He said that making the film was a turning point in his life and that working closely with farm animals completely changed his perspective.
After seeing the way the baby piglet’s reaction to being let free on a patch of grass he said “I don’t want any part of this. I am out.” Today, he is a huge animal rights supporter, unsurprisingly, especially pigs.
Charlie Hunnam – Working In The United States
Although Hunnam is a UK native, and when he came over the to the United States for projects such as Sons of Anarchy it really messed up his speech. While he’s regarded for his ability to do a correct American accent, it changed his real-life accent which was particularly noticeable on a 2013 appearance on Conan.
Even when he was working on King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, he had to hire a dialect coach to help him relearn and perfect his once natural English accent. Going to play a french character directly after that probably hasn’t helped him out much either.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Multiple Films
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been living and working in America for more than enough time to have shed his thick Austrian accent, yet hasn’t. The reason for this being that although he can speak proper English, he told The Daily Mail that he doesn’t want to let down his fans who expect him to sound like he does in his movies.
Upon coming to the United States, he even had a dialect coach to help him speak English more clearly but his reputation seems to have gotten the better of him.
Sarah Paulson – The People Vs. OJ Simpson
In The People Vs. OJ Simpson, Sarah Paulson played Marcia Clark, a well-known chain-smoker in real life. Smoking was a necessary aspect of the role, and Paulson began smoking them for real as a form of method acting.
Yet, while at first she was disgusted by smoking, eventually, she found herself craving cigarettes and looking forward to scenes when she would be able to smoke. Paulson described her predicament as a “real situation,” realizing that she was beginning to form an addiction and was now caught in a vicious cycle.
Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
In The King’s Speech, Colin Firth plays the future King of England George VI, who suffers from a severe impediment that he must conquer in order to address the nation. So, Firth tirelessly studied George VI’s public speaking to get the speech impediment down as well as his nervous ticks.
He later admitted that after spending so long pretending to have a speech issue, he found his own speech actually suffering from it. In an interview over eight months after the film was released, it was still clear that Firth was working on speaking regularly again.
Linda Hamilton – Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Linda Hamilton appeared on Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Sarah Connor, her role from the first film. Of course, she was once again one of Cameron’s main female protagonist with no shortage of her own action scenes.
She completely gave herself to Sarah Connor’s character including her hearing as well. During a gunfight in an elevator, Hamilton forgot to put in her protective earplugs in between takes, which resulted in her seriously harming her ears. Apparently, the result was permanent hearing damage.
Kyle Richards – Halloween
A young Kyle Richards played Lindsay Wallace, one of the little kids Jamie Lee Curtis’ defends from the terrifying Michael Meyers in the 1978 horror classic. Being just nine years old when filming Halloween, the movie had a deep impact on the young actress.
While Richards enjoyed her time on set, especially with Michael Meyers actor Nick Castle, she was traumatized by the character after seeing the film. After seeing the movie in all its glory she was deeply shaken by it and admitted that she would always think he was lurking around the corner.
Bill Skarsgård – It
Playing a shape-shifting psychopathic clown who terrorizes kids is sure to have a negative impact on anyone. Bill Skarsgård, who played an amazing portrayal of the clown had this exact problem. In order to successfully play the role, Skarsgård had to go into some seriously dark places and leave essentially all of his humanity behind.
After the film wrapped, he tried to leave the character behind but was haunted by him for some time. He even claims to have had nightmares for months about the character. Good thing he gets to do it all over again soon.
Johnny Depp – Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
Johnny Depp jumped at the opportunity to portray Hunter S. Thomspon in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, whom he both admired and was friends with. In order to get the character down, he moved into Thompson’s basement to see what it was really like to live like him.
By the time they started filming, everyone was concerned that Depp had gone too far and was actually doing the drugs they were supposed to do in the film. Apparently, he kept up his antics for over a year after filming, staying close with Thomspon until his death in 2005.
Isabelle Adjani – Possession
Isabelle Adjani played the role of Ana in the 1981 horror film Possession. While the entire film was frightening, one part that sticks out is the gut-wrenching subway scene packed full of insanity, vomit, and blood.
Although Adjani won a Cesar Award for her performance, the role was extremely demanding and required her to undergo years of therapy to rid herself of the character. After her experience both shooting the film and after, she vowed to never take a role like that again.
Uma Thurman – Kill Bill Series
Director Quentin Tarantino is known for frequently working with the same actors and actresses with Uma Thurman at the top of his list. She is the star of the series going by various names such as The Bride, Beatrix Kiddo, and Black Mamba.
While filming, Tarantino insisted that she did her own stunts which included her driving into a curb. Unfortunately, the stunt went wrong and Thurman ended up in a near-fatal car accident which left her with serious concussions, contusions, and knee damage that she still lives with today.
Janet Leigh – Psycho
In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 slasher Psycho, actress Janet Leigh’s character Marion is killed while in the shower. The scene is one of the most iconic in movie history and horrified not only audiences but Leigh herself.
Leigh admitted that even after the film, she felt uncomfortable in the shower and that when she did shower she faced the door and took them as quick as possible. Clearly, even a fake death in the shower was traumatizing to the actress as well as everyone else who saw the movie.
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
After passing away from an accidental drug overdose in 2008, Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the Joker. However, there have been rumors about Ledger’s preparation for the role that may have aided in his untimely death.
Supposedly, he went into isolation in preparation for the film, keeping a diary that helped him get into the mindset of the completely twisted Joker. Yet, the role took a serious toll on his mental Health, causing him to only sleep a few hours a night. This led him to become reliant on painkillers and sedatives which resulted in his untimely death.
Linda Blair – The Exorcist
Linda Blair played the possessed Regan MacNeil in the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist. Upon release, the film was hailed as one of the most frightening and disturbing films to date and its reputation still stands today. However, Blair was so young during filming, that she didn’t really understand what the film was about or how controversial the topic was.
It wasn’t until the movie was released that people began to ask her questions she wasn’t prepared to answer or didn’t want to think about. She said, “I didn’t realize then that it dealt with anything in reality […] it was just an awful thing to go through as a teenager.”
Shelley Duvall – The Shining
It goes without saying that Shelley Duvall was nothing less than tortured on the set of The Shining. Director Stanley Kubrick basically drove her to insanity to the point that in many scenes, like the one with the baseball bat, she wasn’t acting but was actually frightened.
Duvall was even known to lose hair on set and have frequent breakdowns because Kubrick was pushing her so hard when she was already on the edge. After wrapping up filming, Duvall was emotionally traumatized and suffered from mental illness that could only be attributed to her time working on The Shining.
Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
Actress Anne Hathaway did a lot to get into character to play Fantine in 2012’s Les Miserables. Not only did she have to shave her head, but also lose so much weight that she was almost unrecognizable. On top of that, she played the role of a struggling single mother, forced to sell her hair, teeth, and body in order to support her daughter on the streets of France.
The culmination of all this broke Hathaway spiritually who said she began to lose touch with reality. She claims “I was in such a state of deprivation—physical and emotional. When I got home, I couldn’t react to the chaos of the world without being overwhelmed.”
Adrian Brody – The Pianist
There was absolutely nothing lighthearted for Adrian Brody about preparing to play the role of Holocaust survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman in the 2002 film The Pianist. To prepare, he sold his apartment, car, cut off contact with the outside world, and moved to Europe.
While that was difficult enough, he claims that the hardest part about the character was experiencing what starvation does to somebody. He starved himself in preparation, and while filming, he feared that he would never get his sanity back which he claims took him over a year and a half.
The Entire Cast – The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project is considered to be the grandfather of found-footage films, granting it much acclaim in the horror genre. Yet, it was also a nightmare for the actors to make. Actors Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams were actually instructed to go camping by themselves recording their own footage and camping in real tents.
However, the film crew was not far behind, terrorizing them, blurring the lines between filming and reality. Basically, everything that happened to them in the film happened for real except it was orchestrated by the film crew. It was tough on the actors and all have spoken out about how traumatic it was at times.
Hugh Laurie – House
Hugh Laurie was so convincing as the title character on House that when he auditioned for the role, the producers didn’t realize that Laurie was an Englishman. What also made Laurie convincing as Dr. Gregory House was the limp that he walked with as a result of an infraction in his character’s right leg.
House was such a hit that it went on for eight years. Laurie faked his limp for so long that he actually ended up with one in real life! It didn’t help that he would often switch which leg had the limp, though strangely no one noticed.
Jennifer Carpenter – The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
Jennifer Carpenter should have taken notes from Linda Blair before she signed on to star in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Though Carpenter ostensibly knew what the film was all about beforehand, unlike Blair, that isn’t to say that she still wasn’t spooked out after the film wrapped.
“[Two] or three times when I was going to sleep my radio came on by itself. The only time it scared me was once because it was really loud and it was Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’. Laura’s [Linney] TV came on a couple of times,” Carpenter told Dead Central.
Liv Tyler – The Strangers
When Liv Tyler was filming 2008’s The Strangers, many of her terrified reactions were actually genuine. In fact, filming this home invasion horror flick was so intense that Tyler started to get freaked out in her own home.
“That’s what is so real about The Strangers. Like, you’d be in bed at night trying to relax, and all of a sudden you hear a noise and you go, ‘What was that!’ And you wonder, are you brave enough to go check or not. Imagine if you went to look, and there’s a person in a mask standing in your living room, with a butcher knife!” she told NewsBlaze.
JoBeth Williams – Poltergeist
1982’s Poltergeist is believed to have had one of the most cursed sets throughout Hollywood history. JoBeth Williams, who played mom Diane in the film, says that weird things started happening to her while she was filming the movie. It possibly made her think that the demons they fought on set had followed her home.
“I began to notice that every night when I would come home from shooting, exhausted, fried, the picture on the walls would be crooked. And I would straighten them. And the next day, I would come in, and the pictures would be crooked again,” she said on Reddit.
Sandra Peabody – Last House On The Left
1972’s Last House on the Left was horror film director Wes Craven’s debut film. It starred Sandra Peabody, one of two teenage girls who are kidnapped into the woods and tortured by a gang of sadistic murderers.
Peabody was only 23 years old at the time of filming and was terrified the entire time. The actors who played the psychopaths in the movie were ordered to stay in character throughout the shoot, which only made things worse. To this day, Peabody has never reunited with the cast or done any interviews with them about the film.
Mia Farrow – Rosemary’s Baby
Mia Farrow starred in 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby. Directed by Roman Polanski, the film became Farrow’s breakout success but aside from making her a star, it changed her in other ways as well. At one point, Polanski forced Farrow to eat chicken liver.
“When Roman wanted me to eat raw liver, I ate it, take after take, even though, at the time, I was a committed vegetarian,” she wrote in her autobiography, What Falls Away. The movie also led to her split from Frank Sinatra, who she had unexpectedly eloped with two years before.
Malcolm McDowell – A Clockwork Orange
Malcolm McDowell starred as Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, based on Anthony Burgess’s novel of the same name. In the film, Alex is forced to watch films of violence and sex as a part of experimental aversion therapy.
When filming, Kubrick actually had a doctor use real clamps to keep McDowell’s eyes open for the scene. Though eye drops were applied every few minutes to ease the pain, the uncomfortable situation was said to have scratched McDowell’s cornea and almost cause him to go blind.
Veronica Cartwright – Alien
1979’s Alien was directed by Ridley Scott. The film includes an infamous scene in which a menacing extraterrestrial bursts out of John Hurt’s character’s chest. Scott would later say that he did not tell the cast how this scene was going to play out, just so that he could get a genuine reaction out of them.
Cartwright once said, “We read the script. They showed us a mock-up, but they didn’t show how it was going to work. They just said, ‘Its head will movie and it’s going to have teeth.'” Cartwright was so shocked when they filmed the scene that she famously passed out!
Marilyn Burns – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
If you’ve seen the famous 1974 horror flick The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then you remember Marilyn Burns as an unsuspecting traveler who ends up becoming the victim of an agonizing homicide.
There’s certainly a lot of violence in the film and even though it was for dramatic purposes, Burns still had it pretty rough on set. Texas Monthly journalist interviewed the cast and crew, reporting in 2004 that “By the end of production, [Burns’s] screams were real, as she’d been poked, prodded, bound, dragged through rooms, jerked around… and endlessly pursued by Hansen with his chain saw and Neal with his constantly flicking switchblade.”
Tippi Hedren – The Birds
It’s no doubt that Tippi Hedren became a star after starring in two Alfred Hitchcock films: The Birds and Marnie. Hedren famously came forward about Hitchcock’s multiple advances and says that after denying him he became cold.
While filming The Birds, he replaced the mechanical birds they were using with real ones – and kept Hedren out of the loop about it. “I had to get out of there. I was dealing with one of the most powerful men in motion pictures and it was difficult, embarrassing and insulting. He said, ‘If you leave, I’ll ruin your career.’ And he did,” she later said.
Vera Farmiga – The Conjuring
Vera Farmiga is an esteemed actress whose career began on Broadway but many horror buffs may know her as paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring franchise. Before taking the role, Farmiga researched Warren and was excited to join the cast. But afterward, it was as if something was following her.
During pre-production she opened her laptop to three digital claw marks, which she thought was strange. But nothing was weirder when filming wrapped and she woke up the next day with “three claw mark bruises across [her] thigh!” She couldn’t even take her script home because parts of it made her uneasy.
Keanu Reeves – The Matrix
Keanu Reeves starred in 1999’s The Matrix. Reeves’s body took quite the toll on set as he preferred to do all of the stunts himself – even after having spinal cord surgery. In the scene where Reeves is scaling a window ledge, he didn’t even use cables!
The set of The Matrix was also rumored to be cursed. While none of the main actors suffered anything dire, Reeves suffered tragedies after filming wrapped. His girlfriend at the time reportedly gave birth to a still-born baby and subsequently died in a car crash. We bet things weren’t the same for him after that.
Patrick Wilson – The Conjuring
Patrick Wilson is another actor in The Conjuring franchise who’s been weirdly affected by the films. He has publicly said he was a skeptic when it came to the supernatural, but he couldn’t deny that something seemed off on set one day. A curtain began mysteriously moving for no reason and the crew had to bring in a priest to bless the set.
He told Metro, “That was a very, very odd occurrence because nothing else was moving around [the curtain] and nothing was blowing. You didn’t even hear any air, but you watched these curtains sort of violently going.”
Heather Langenkamp – A Nightmare On Elm Street
Heather Langenkamp starred in 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street as teen Nancy Thompson. The scene where she’s taking a bath and Freddy Krueger’s infamous glove pokes out of the water is truly unforgettable. Langenkamp later looked back on the film as one that was mentally exhausting.
“I didn’t feel like I was at all aware that I was going to be led into this chamber of horrors that I would have to deal with… But every day, Wes [Craven] presented me with something that would make me shift my mentality,” she told Rolling Stone.
Maika Monroe – It Follows
Maika Monroe stars in the 2014 horror It Follows, about a supernatural curse that gets passed around from person to person like a sexually transmitted disease – in the film, doing the deed is the only way to get rid of it.
Monroe tells Glamour that filming the movie took its toll: “It was a very difficult shoot – just every day was another battle to face just in terms of acting and the screaming and crying and running. All of that every day is very tiresome… Your mind is so lost and confused as it is.”
Jodie Foster – The Silence Of The Lambs
In 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, Jodie Foster plays FBI trainee Clarice Starling, who seeks the advice of cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in prison to help catch other serial killer.
Foster was changed even before they began filming, saying that Hopkins was so convincing she was terrified of him the whole time. “I never spoke to him, he was scary… We got to the end of the movie and really had never had a conversation. I avoided him, as best I could,” she said on The Graham Norton Show.
Amanda Wyss – A Nightmare On Elm Street
Another person on the A Nightmare on Elm Street set who was completely spooked was Amanda Wyss. Wyss played Tina Gray, who is the first teen to die in the film. The scene in which she is murdered in her bedroom was particularly terrifying for her because she felt like she was really dying.
“The first spin around [the room] felt like I was falling, even though I was on the floor. Then I felt that if I wasn’t falling, everything was going to fall on me. It was terrible. We had to stop. The terror in my death scene was 75 percent real.”
Gregory Peck – The Omen
Richard Donner’s 1976 horror film The Omen was also known to have one of the most cursed sets in history. Plenty of freaky things happened on and off the set to cast and crew during the filming of this movie about a boy who turns out to be the Antichrist.
Gregory Peck perhaps had the worst of the curse, as his son Jonathan was known to have shot himself two months prior to filming. Peck’s plane was later struck by lightning. That wasn’t the only thing to happen either. One crew member was mauled by a tiger and another was beheaded in a car crash.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan – The Possession
2012’s The Possession is about an allegedly haunted dybbuk box. Jeffery Dean Morgan signed on to the film as a skeptic of supernatural phenomena, but during the filming of this movie, he changed his mind. Mysteriously exploding light bulbs and other strange occurrences caused Morgan and the rest of the cast not to take the box lightly.
He even avoided reading about the actual box because he once said, “I didn’t want to get scared… Somebody wanted to bring the box to the set, the real box. I was adamantly against it.”
Ellen Sandweiss – The Evil Dead
1981’s The Evil Dead is some of director Sam Raimi’s early work before he was recruited to due big-budget films like Spider-Man. The Evil Dead involves college students who go to a rural cabin for vacation, where they encounter a demonic entity.
Ellen Sandweiss stars in the film as Cheryl Williams, who was famously in a scene where demonically possessed trees have their way with her. Sandweiss later recalled, “It was pretty grueling, shooting in the cold, in the middle of the night, getting scraped up by trees, not a whole lot of fun. People were quite shocked when they saw it, but not quite as shocked as I was.”