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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.”