Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders is one of the greatest coming of age films of the 20th century. He and his cast of stars before they were stars accurately capture life on the wrong side of the tracks, but to get into character the actors had to go more method than they wanted to.
While speaking about the film with Kelly Clarkson, Rob Lowe revealed that the actors had to spend the night with strangers in order to find their characters. He says that he and a young Tom Cruise ended up on cots in a basement, Lowe still sounds annoyed:
When we were doing The Outsiders, we’re 18 and 19 years old. It’s Francis Ford Coppola, the director, who directed The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. and in his effort to make us more authentic as greasers, as sort of tough Tulsa, sort of wrong side of the tracks guys, (he) found a bunch of different actual greasers who were now grown-up adults and made us go spend the night and live with them. Tom and I ended up in the basement in two cots and we’re like, ‘We don’t know these people.’ I mean, who vetted them? Really? Do you think Francis Ford Coppola spent a lot of time vetting these people? I can tell you, he didn’t. He was with an espresso and watching some fancy Fellini movie and went, ‘Yeah, yeah that sounds great’ and went back to his espresso.
The glamorous Elizabeth Taylor, 1956
We don’t often think of Elizabeth Taylor as a “method” performer. Sure, we know about her marriages and her work as Cleopatra, but it’s hard to think of her digging deep into a character. However, that’s exactly what she did on some of her biggest films, although it wasn’t always easy to get out of the role.
She notes that while filming Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with her then-husband Richard Burton the couple had to work out a system of getting out of character so they could make sure they had a pleasant evening at home rather than continuing to tear each other’s heads off:
We’d get it all out on the set and when we got home it was like taking off and overcoat and leaving it at the studio. We’d learn our lines in the car on the way home. Fortunately, we were both very quick studies. Then when we got home we had shed George and Martha and we had the kids. We had dinner with the kids every night and we played games with them, word games that we invented, and we’d become totally involved in the family. We became Richard and Elizabeth and it worked. And we survived.
Jimi Hendrix was a sonic genius, and even though he only recorded a few albums the genius that’s present on each of them is hard to wrap your head around. Each further album is a shift into a new aural land and it’s absolutely stunning.
Even though there’s a lot going on with the Hendrix albums he was insistent that he really didn’t do that much to make the songs shine, just lay down what felt right. He told Guitar Player :
We became a untied family and forgot all about the two [characters] who wanted to kill each other
On some records, you hear all this clash and bang and fanciness. But all we’re doing is laying down the guitar tracks, and then we echo here and there. We’re not adding false electronic things. We use the same thing anyone else would, but we use it with imagination and common sense. Like in ‘House Burning Down’ [Electric Ladyland], we made the guitar sound like it was on fire. It’s constantly changing dimensions, and up on top that lead guitar is cutting through everything.