When Dustin Hoffman stayed up for four days in a row in preparation to play his sleep-deprived character in Marathon Man, Peter O’Toole famously said to him “My dear boy, have you ever tried acting?”
Well, it turns out that for some actors, drinking in a role means drinking as a role, on set, even on camera. More than a few of our favorite films (and likely way more than these) involve actors who were either drunk previous to or as a fact of the scene itself. Not all of it was Method. Some was circumstantial (you’re filming in a brewery, you’re gonna drink). And some were just the result of the inordinate psychological pressures of working in Hollywood—a condition of prolonged unreality and alientation-as-exulation best summed up by one of its most well-known child stars, Bart Simpson: “Show business is a hideous bitch-goddess.”
Anyway, here are some folks who got blitzed at work.
Don't Miss A DropGet the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.
CHILDHOOD HEROES: When teenagers should be saving the world, but they’re too wasted.
Harry Potter, Say It Ain’t So…
Yes, Potterites. Your innocent, bespectacled hero was in the habit of showing up to set drunk. For about two years, according to Radcliffe himself, he was partying fairly hard. So hard in fact, that while he wouldn’t drink before shooting, he’d often show up to a shoot still intoxicated from the previous night. No word whether this ever got him suspended from Gryffindor, but Radcliffe himself didn’t cut corners. As he told The Daily Mail, “I can point to many scenes where I’m just gone. Dead behind the eyes. I have a very addictive personality. It was a problem.”
Katniss Got Krunked
Apparently, the battle against the deadly bureaucratic machinery of our dystopian teen-hating future got a bit tiresome for J-Law. As she told David Letterman, she got drunk on Pina Coladas with some of the cast on set of Catching Fire. Considering she was drinking rum and coconut milk, we’re super impressed Katniss didn’t Everdeen all over her bow and arrow.
The Super Drunk Mario Brothers
Anyone who’s seen Super Mario Brothers sober probably understands why stars John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins supposedly had to drink their way through it. According to this site, Leguizamo brought Scotch on set and he and Hoskins drowned their creative sorrows, so much so that Leguizamo accidentally slammed a van door on Hoskins’ hand. (Also according to this site, and we hope it’s not true, Tom Hanks was—briefly—cast as Mario. And Hoskins didn’t know it was based on a video game.)
THE MOVIE MADE ME DO IT: When you’re not entirely surprised.
All the Dazed and Confused
File this under “No F*cking Surprise,” but yeah it turns out the crew from Richard Linklater’s nostalgic teenage ass-smacking opus would partake of certain grassy substances throughout shooting. The pot they smoked on film was fake, of course. But the actors supposedly remedied that by partaking in advance of filming. Our guess is Matthew McConaughey hasn’t stopped since.
All the Drinking Buddies
Another entry in the “No F*cking Surprise” file, since this was filmed in a brewery and centers on the friendship (or could it be more?…blah blah blah) of two brewery employees, played by the clearly awesome Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson, who can do no wrong as Nick from New Girl. The best part, as Wilde told Sam Jones, was Anna Kendrick getting accidentally hammered. “She sat down to do the first scene and took a huge gulp of beer, not realizing it was real, and was like, instantly hammered. She was like, ‘What’s happening?’ and we were like, ‘Oh, we forgot to tell you – the beer’s all real and everyone’s drunk. It’s 10 a.m., welcome to Drinking Buddies.’”
BAD BOYS BEING BAD: When you’re definitely not entirely surprised
Shia LaBeouf Just Beoufin’ It
By now The Beef is fairly well known for his off-camera indiscretions, but during the filming of moonshiner movie Lawless (where Tom Hardy is even less discernable than he was as Bane), LaBeouf took to drinking the shine. To be fair, this isn’t the farthest actors have gone with Method. And LaBeouf reportedly did it to achieve a character-accurate “drunk bloat.”
Bad Billy Bob, Bad
Billy Bob Thornton is another well-known Hollywood imbiber, but come on guys, he was also Sling Blade. Anyway, rumor has it that in his turn as one of the grungier Santa Clauses known to man, Thornton basically drank as the character did. No word on whether Cloris Leachman is actually fixing those sandwiches.
Ethan Embry Couldn’t Hardly Wait
To get stoned! Alright, we tried. But the forlorn puppy-dog loverboy of everyone’s favorite Charlie Korsmo vehicle was admittedly stoned throughout much of Can’t Hardly Wait. Like, he doesn’t remember the plot. Or what he does remember is a lot grimmer than the movie that had Seth Green prepping a sex backpack. “It’s about a party, right? Underage kids drinking and smoking and having underage sex, right?” Embry’s, er, state, didn’t go unnoticed. As he told VH1, “I remember the director came up to me and asked if I was ‘altered.’” Strangely, given the insane breathiness of her delivery, Jennifer Love Hewitt was not high at all. We could’ve sworn we saw some smoke coming out in one of those million exhalations…
WEIRD/INTENSE MOVIES: Where if you don’t drink, the movie will drive you mad…
If You Talk About Fight Club, You Have To Do A Shot…
Or something. Not quite sure how they got there, though we assume it was some kind of Fight Club drinking game with Meatloaf egging them on, but supposedly one night Ed Norton and Brad Pitt got drunk (off camera). Never one to miss a potentially raw beat, director David Fincher took advantage of the megastar inebriation and had the two sides of Tyler Durden film the drunken golf scene (what they were whacking with each shot was a catering truck off camera). Bonus Footage: A goateed Pitt and Norton talk about the film with a guy named Jimmy Carter who sounds like Dr. Phil.
The Beatles Need Help!
If you haven’t seen Help!, you should. Not just so you can witness everyone’s favorite Liverpudlian Foursome blotto on camera. It’s also just a really good, bizarre movie—and shows off the possibly lesser known funny bone of Mr. John Lennon. Pot seemed to be the drug of choice for this one (A Hard Days Night featured harder drugs and drink). Not that pot slowed down the antics. As Ringo recalls in The Beatles Anthology, “In one of the scenes, Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinnear are playing curling: sliding along those big stones. One of the stones has a bomb in it and we find out that it’s going to blow up, and have to run away. Well, Paul and I ran about seven miles, we ran and ran, just so we could stop and have a joint before we came back. We could have run all the way to Switzerland.”
Martin Sheen Gets All Apocalypse-y
Maybe no surprise Apocalypse Now started out with an incredibly bizarre scenario. Martin Sheen was actually drunk on the first day of filming—like, blitzed drunk. And rather than make Sheen nap it off with a couple Advil, Coppola turned the cameras on him, and achieved one of the strangest, rawest, most unhinged opening scenes in movie history. (Sheen actually punches that mirror, and that’s his actual movie star blood all over the place. What doesn’t make it into film is him attacking Coppola. Presumably they saved that one for the gag reel.)
SIPPING FOR SEX SCENES: Even the very beautiful need liquid courage sometimes.
Mackin’ the Wolf of Wall Street
Being the new girl in professional acting can be unnerving enough. Being the new girl who’s in her mid 20s and about to film a fairly graphic sex scene with Jack from Titanic calls for a couple shots of tequila. Or so Margot Robbie thought while filming The Wolf of Wall Street. And fair enough. We’ll never let go, Jack. We’ll never let go.
Natalie and Mila, Sittin’ in a Tree
Kunis famously denies splitting a bottle of tequila with Natalie Portman before their creepily famous, oft-dude-googled sex scene in Black Swan. We’d probably do the same. But then there’s an “insider” source from The Hollywood Reporter that claims tequila was, indeed, consumed prior to filming. Per the source, “it got everyone relaxed.” At least until Nina realizes she’d do anything to fulfill—nay, become—the role of the Black Swan. And then all hell breaks loose in a tutu.
It’s Called Wild Things, So…Yeah
Unlike Kunis, Neve Campbell doesn’t deny the presence, and consumption, of tequila on set of one of the least likely places you’d find Bill Murray. Seems like Hollywood turns to tequila for its liquid courage, since the group is said to have gotten “slightly drunk” in advance of their three-way love scene.
FRED ASTAIRE: He gets his own category because…Fred Astaire.
Fred Astaire Can’t Uncoordinate Himself
Fred Astaire may also win the “hardcore” award, and yes, for his extreme drinking on set of the delightful 1942 musical comedy Holiday Inn. To be fair, Astaire was doing Method. Faced with the task of doing a “drunk” dance scene at the end of the film, and clearly trapped in the prison of his own angelic coordination, Astaire came up with a genius solution: bourbon. According to his daughter Ava, Astaire did two shots of bourbon before the first take, and one with each successive take. The final—seventh—take is what’s in the film. That’s eight shots of bourbon to take down a guy who was 5’9” and, apparently, un-take-downable (just check his performance in the beginning of this clip).