Jeremy Strong’s co-star, Anne Hathaway, recently gave high praise for the Succession actor’s controversial method acting techniques. The pair star in the upcoming film Armageddon Time along with Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Chastain. And while some suggest Strong’s method acting goes too far, Hathaway says she strove to “reflect” Strong’s talent during filming.
Anne Hathaway on working with Jeremy Strong in Armageddon Time
Speaking to Variety about the making of the film Armageddon Time, the Academy Award-winning Hathaway had nothing but praise for her castmate, saying,
“I really felt that between him and Anthony Hopkins’ unparalleled mastery of the craft, I was just, like, ‘just don’t get in the way. Just reflect. Just absorb, learn, and reflect.’”
The film is largely based on director James Gray’s upbringing in Queens, New York in the 1980s. Hathaway and Strong star in the roles written about Gray’s parents, with Hathaway an uptight PTA mother and Strong, a blue-collar repairman with an overabundance of corny jokes and temper. “Jeremy understood his character so well… he could joke in character … he knew how to fix a refrigerator!” Hathaway gushed following the film’s debut at Cannes Film Festival.
Jeremy Strong’s method acting
It all began with a New Yorker profile written on Succession’s Strong in December of 2021 which brought to light many of the actor’s more controversial method acting techniques. Detailing the filming of 2020’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, the article states that Strong requested to be sprayed with real tear gas so he could authentically represent the protestors in the scene. Strong’s request was denied by writer and director Aaron Sorkin in an effort to protect the other cast and crew.
Method acting is a process by which many great actors have sworn by and it has produced some of the greatest performances of the craft. Examples sourced in the New Yorker include Dustin Hoffman staying up for three nights prior to a scene in Marathon Man to appear authentically sleep-deprived and Robert De Niro shaving down his own teeth for his role in Cape Fear.
But many more examples exist like Christian Bale consuming only one apple a day for four months to emaciate himself for his role in The Machinist. Likewise, the crew of 1989’s My Left Foot had to feed Daniel Day-Lewis (who is one of Strong’s biggest inspirations) between takes as he refused to come out of his portrayal of his disabled character, according to Maclean’s.
Strong does not call his process “method acting,” however, opting for the term “identity diffusion” instead. Talking to the New Yorker, Strong says:
“If I have any method at all, it is simply this: to clear away anything—anything—that is not the character and the circumstances of the scene. And usually that means clearing away almost everything around and inside you, so that you can be a more complete vessel for the work at hand.”
Fellow cast and crew on working with ‘Succession’s’ Jeremy Strong
“I don’t know how popular the way I work is amongst our troupe,” Strong tells the writer of the New Yorker article, and he is not wrong to doubt. Many of Strong’s castmates and crew have seemed unenthused by the actor’s methods. Crew members liken him to an irritating bug after his many requests to props and wardrobe to borrow items for his process.
Castmates complain that he refuses to rehearse, preferring to approach each scene as though for the first time and, while filming Succession, Strong refused to go to the make-up trailer until it was empty because of his character’s current alienation.
Director Aaron Sorkin recalls having to do multiple takes of the courtroom scenes in The Trial of the Chicago 7 after Strong’s portrayal of Jerry Rubin inspired him to place a remote-operated fart machine under his co-star Frank Langella’s chair. Strong’s co-star in The Judge, Robert Downey Jr., said Strong “definitely crosses the Rubicon” after Strong spent a whole day wailing and mourning for a funeral scene he was not even in.
Others, like Strong’s Succession co-star Brian Cox, have voiced concern for the actor. Cox says, “The result that Jeremy gets is always pretty tremendous,” he said. “I just worry about what he does to himself … I just feel that he just has to be kinder to himself, and therefore has to be a bit kinder to everybody else.”
Whether well-received or not, Strong’s method acting, as Cox suggests, gets remarkable results and the actor continues to build his outstanding resume. Strong’s Armageddon Time releases later this year and will be followed by Succession season 4 and Bradley Cooper’s Maestro.