Have you ever thought about the skills that actors have to acquire to be ready for their next movie part? While some movies only require acting, some need actors to have specific abilities and physical fitness to accurately portray their character on screen. So, here we’ll discuss over 40 unique skills that actors have learned from scratch to perform their role perfectly.
Elliot Page (Formerly Known as Ellen Page) – Juggling
Elliot Page, who gained fame for his role in the movie Juno, is a multi-talented individual. Apart from acting, he has skills in playing musical instruments like the guitar and piano, dancing, painting, and writing.
However, his most recent interest is focused on juggling. The actor, who is also known for his role in Juno, has put a lot of effort into perfecting his juggling abilities. He probably spent his free time during filming throwing various objects in the air to master the craft. During one episode of Conan, he unexpectedly displayed his proficiency by juggling random fruits without any prior indication of doing so.
Kate Winslet – Breathing Under Water
In the upcoming Avatar sequel, Kate portrays a character who specializes in water activities. During the underwater scenes where she did not wear any breathing equipment like a scuba mask, she managed to hold her breath for an impressive seven minutes and 14 seconds.
Winslet underwent training with a coach who educated her on how to utilize yoga maneuvers to control her breath. In addition to that, she devoted hours each day to practice swimming upside down.
Tom Cruise – Helicopter Flying
Tom Cruise made the already challenging task of leaping from one helicopter to another in Mission Impossible: Fallout even more difficult by acquiring proper training and certification to fly helicopters before filming commenced.
The fact that he was so determined to experience the thrill of adrenaline suggests that he had a strong desire for that sensation. Tom Cruise can teach us a valuable lesson – to step out of our comfort zone and try new things that may seem uncomfortable or foreign to us. This can help us grow and develop as individuals. You never know what new opportunities and experiences may arise until you take a chance and explore the unknown.
Taron Egerton – Playing the Piano
In preparation for his role as Elton John in Rocketman, Actor Taron Egerton acquired skills in playing the piano. Director Dexter Fletcher expressed that he realized the need for a person who could both sing and play the piano just three months before production began, and he subsequently sought out Egerton for the role.
The performer invested a full workday, consisting of eight hours, on preparations for the production, which included two hours of practice. The dedication paid off, as Taron Egerton delivered an exceptional acting display.
Nicolas Cage – Playing the Mandolin
In Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Nicolas Cage had to acquire the skill of playing the mandolin for his character. Despite being a skilled actor, he had no prior experience with the instrument, and he mentioned that during his childhood, he would have never thought of trying to play it.
Cage received guitar lessons from Paul Englishby, who previously instructed Hugh Grant for the talent show scene in About a Boy. During the production, Cage dedicated four hours of practice each day, and by the end of filming, he had developed skilled playing abilities on the mandolin.
Reese Witherspoon – How to Play Autoharp
Reese Witherspoon acquired the skill of playing the autoharp for the Walk the Line soundtrack. She devoted a lot of time and effort to practicing and could often be found playing on set. Her practice sessions lasted from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. with no breaks in between.
For her Oscar-winning role, Witherspoon sought advice from Catherine O’Hara’s autoharp teacher and later worked together with O’Hara on a soundtrack for a biographical movie. However, even before completing filming for Walk the Line, she sang the song Walk the Line at a live Emmy Awards show performance.
Jason Momoa – Speak a New Language
One of the actors in Game of Thrones, Jason Momoa, chose to learn Dothraki for his role. His reason for doing so was that it helped him embody the character of Khal Drogo.
Over time, Jason Momoa picked up enough knowledge to become fluent in his use of Dothraki, which he is now able to comprehend without any external aid.
Chadwick Boseman – Playing Trumpet
In the movie Black Panther released in 2016, Chadwick Boseman captivated the audience with his exceptional acting skills. However, Chadwick is not a newcomer to the acting world. To play the role of a distressed musician in the movie Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, he learned how to play the trumpet all by himself, which is quite impressive.
Chadwick’s co-star Glynn Turman recalls hearing the star practicing the trumpet, even in the hotel room, to master it ahead of filming. Glynn says that Chadwick’s commitment encouraged the other cast members to be just as dedicated.
Ryan Gosling – How to Make Furniture
Gosling learned to make furniture like his The Notebook character Noah—an expert furniture maker. The actor has a history of going the extra mile for his roles. For example, he studied jazz piano for La La Land.
The exciting bit is that he apprenticed with a cabinetmaker to prepare for the role of Noah Calhoun in The Notebook. There’s even furniture featured in the movie that he built!
Natalie Portman – Ballet Dancing
Natalie Portman spent eight hours a day learning to dance ballet for her role in Black Swan. She had to learn to be graceful and elegant in her movements in order to captivate audiences as she became an enchanted ballerina in Black Swan.
She practiced eight hours a day, six days a week, to achieve the correct character portrayal. She learned about classical ballet to prepare for her role as a ballerina. In addition to studying ballet techniques such as plies and tendus, Natalie Portman also worked with the movie’s choreographer, who helped her develop her unique style of dancing.
Margot Robbie – Ice Skating
Robbie signed up to take ice skating lessons from ice skating choreographer Sarah Kawahara, who became her mentor. Margot wanted to get it right and she had fun doing it! For Robbie, learning to skate was one of her many sacrifices to portray Harding on screen in the movie I, Tonya.
While some of the more complicated shots were done by a stunt double, Margot was able to re-enact Tonya’s 1994 Olympic free skate routine in the film – which is no small feat.
Robert De Niro – How to Drive a Taxi
It was impressive when the young Robert De Niro dedicated himself to preparing for his part as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. The actor got himself a cab license and began working 12-hour shifts driving a taxi in New York City. By driving around the city at night, De Niro could get into the mindset of his character, which blurred the lines between reality and fiction.
When making Taxi Driver, it’s said that some of the scenes were filmed by hidden cameras in cabs De Niro drove. He has described how he would wear dark glasses so that passengers wouldn’t recognize him and they’d talk about their personal lives with him.
Meryl Streep – How to Speak Polish
In Sophie’s Choice, actress Meryl Streep played a Polish immigrant withholding a dark secret. To obtain the role, Streep was desperate and begged the director to allow her to play the part. Once Streep had gotten to the job, she worried about messing up her character’s Polish accent.
Initially, Meryl Streep just learned Polish. Later, as the project required her to speak German, she also learned German. So Streep’s character could speak German with a Polish accent. When asked why she would go so far as to do this, Meryl Streep responded that she likes to work hard.