Andrew McCarthy Thinks There's A 'Great Misunderstanding' About Method Acting [Exclusive]

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From Jon Bernthal to Mads Mikkelsen, many actors have weighed in on the concept of method acting, and the way in which the meanings attached to the term have been misconstrued by actors who take it too far.

Andrew McCarthy, star of popular teen dramas "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Pretty in Pink," recently spoke exclusively to /Film in an interview about the paperback release of his book, "Brat: An '80s Story." When asked about his thoughts on method acting, especially with regards to actors who do not drop character when not filming, McCarthy spoke about how the term is now being used "pejoratively," which ultimately stems from "a great misunderstanding" of what it really means:

"Well, I don't know that that's what method acting is, I think there's a great misunderstanding about what method acting actually is, you know. It's not about, you know, you're not a method actor because you drive a taxi cab when you're playing a taxi cab driver. It's good solid preparation. And that's great. And I'm all for it, and I would do the same, but it's not really method acting. There's a great misunderstanding of what method acting is. And it's used very pejoratively now.

So often [you hear], 'Oh, method on, I mean, some actor's gonna throw stuff against the wall,' which has nothing to do with method acting. You know, staying in character 24/7 is not method acting. It's more literal acting than anything else. And it's very effective and has its place. It's wonderful, but it has nothing to do with method acting. So I mean, I just think that, that has become sort of a kind of a joke term in many ways. And a pejorative term what it is actually is just, it's a misunderstanding of what it is."

'Staying in character 24/7 is not method acting'

Acting, especially for complex roles, can be a laborious process. There's research and a considerable amount of preparation involved, followed by the ultimate act of slipping effortlessly into a character's shoes. While the foundations of method acting, developed by Konstantin Stanislavski, were built on the tenets of active empathy and authenticity, the connotations attached to the term have undergone massive changes, especially in the past couple of years. The so-called dedication to the process has led to problematic and borderline unacceptable antics on set, such as Jared Leto's behavior during the filming of "Suicide Squad" and the recent "Morbius," among others.

McCarthy's thoughts on method acting, especially his emphasis on the process being (mistakenly) deemed synonymous with staying in character around the clock, have been echoed by many serious actors. Martin Freeman went on to call extreme attempts at going method "a massive pain in the a**," as it ceases to be "a craft and a job" once there are no distinguishable lines between a role and one's real-life personality.

While this subject needs to be approached with great nuance, as every actor has their own process to bring a role to life, method acting can definitely be carried out in ways that do not involve mistreating cast members or harassing the crew. Moreover, there is no shortage of actors who are deeply committed to their roles and still make sure to be themselves between "action" and "cut," making sure that they create a safe space for themselves and those around them in a highly interpersonal, collaborative environment.

The paperback release of McCarthy's memoir, "Brat: An '80s Story," will be available on May 10, 2022.