Tom Hardy packs on the muscle to make himself look nothing at all like a clone of Patrick Stewart circa his 20s in order to pull off the part of the villainous Bane. Shia Labeouf gobbles down chicken and eggs to transform his skinny little body into something that is appropriately believable as one who shares the same strain of DNA as Tom Hardy in “Lawless.” Marky Mark Wahlberg has to fend off accusations of steroid abuse in preparing to play a guy who abused steroids and Anne Hathaway makes a quick trip from lithe Catwoman to tubercular Fantine as a result of a diet of nothing but radishes and hummus. So much attention to transforming their bodies through lifting weights and eating like a prisoner.
And yet Daniel Day-Lewis stands as the front-runner to collect the Academy Award all those actors reinventing their bodies lust for. What’s all the hubbub about Daniel Day-Lewis and his bodily transformation? Well, you see, that’s just it. Precious few words have been written about Lewis spending time in the gym or going on a crazy diet in order to achieve something that would seem to be much more difficult than what those other actors aimed for. If you know anything about Bane from the comic books, then you know that Tom Hardy failed quite substantially in living up to expectations. Of course, those expectations were beyond the pale.
But were they any more beyond the pale than the idea that the guy who won Oscars for “My Left Foot” and “There Will be Blood” could look so much like Abraham Lincoln that the word uncanny is not even enough to accurate describe the sensation among those who fully apprehend the definition of uncanny? When books are written about bodily transformations among actors, the 2012 movie season will rise to the top. From the almost supernatural transformation of Tom Hardy from the relative physical normality he sported in “Inception” that was re-engineered into the frightening physicality of Bane to the questionable intelligence at work turning Anne Hathaway from the svelte Selina Kyle into the short-haired figure she cuts in “Les Miserables” that looks accomplished in three weeks what it takes some hunger strike survivors a few months to pull off, 2012 will truly stand as the Year of the Reinvented Actor.
And yet it is a mere poster and not a full two hours or more of movie footage that is causing the most breathless anticipation of the 2013 Academy Awards. As Hurricane Isaac is tracking its way toward somewhere between Pensacola and New Orleans, no footage has yet been release of Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” All we have is a poster and a still photographic image or two. We have no stories taking us into the middle of Day-Lewis’s legendary lengths of preparation. From what can be gathered looking at that poster and those images, we are not likely to be witness to stories that are the equal of Hardy’s time spent in the gym or Hathaway’s long days of radish consumption. The only technique of actor reinvention that can be immediately gathered from the paltry evidence at our disposal is one that harkens back to the olden days of bodily reinvention by actors.
A little bit of makeup and a hell of a lot of acting talent.
For more from Timothy Sexton, check out:
Was Anne Hathaway Reckless for Revealing Her Drastic Diet?