First and foremost, let me get this out of the way: This is not a pro-booze article. It’s a pro-tortured-performer article. Now onto the good stuff. The difference between someone being drunk and someone acting drunk is like night and day. The real thing that differentiates the two is what drives them. For most people, when you are fall down drunk, you do your best to down play it.
To try to come across as more in control than you really are. And in the case of acting drunk, it is the opposite. It is someone being normal and trying to act as exaggerated as possible to get something across. So it should come across as no surprise to any film fan that when actors are actually drunk for the scenes when they are supposed to drunk, or got methodically drunk to prepare for a role, the scene or performance seems to have ten times the impact on the viewer. It is the difference between something feeling palpable and something feeling forced. Here are five scenes and movies from modern cinema only made better by the genuine consumption of alcohol before or during shooting. Quick side note, booze is bad for you, kids. Do not emulate any of these scenes or actors.
Apocalypse Now: Martin Sheen
Remember my rule, the first one on the list always inspired the list. This scene gave me chills first time I saw it, and even more so when I found out the story behind it.
It was Martin Sheen’s 36th birthday, and filming for Apocalypse Now was slowly turning into a nightmare for every single person involved. Sheen was actually so drunk during the filming of this scene that, in his own words, he couldn’t stand. Coppola starts filming and Sheen basically sets the foundation for what we now call “Pulling a Sheen.” A move made only more famous by his son, Charlie’s recent spiral.
This picture of Charlie Sheen is what cocaine feels like.
Actually, rather than talk about how insane the scene is, just watch this scene documenting THAT scene from Heart of Darkness:
Crappy directors yell cut when their stars go insane on film. Good directors keep it rolling. Coppola did both.
And there is no denying that the scene is made only more powerful by the fact that Martin Sheen is rambling incoherently and smashes a mirror, cutting himself quite badly in the process. All a result of some loner partying on his birthday that ultimately led to an incredibly powerful scene of drunken madness which felt incredibly authentic, because it was. To Martin, it was him “facing his own demons”, and to us, it was jaw-dropping to witness.
Also, the brilliant show Community brought this scene and Heart of Darkness up in one episode, making more people aware of it. Kudos, Community. That was streets ahead, yet again.
Fight Club: Drunken Night Golf
I don’t think too many people were surprised that Edward Norton and Brad Pitt hit it off during the filing of their seminal generation X/Y classic, Fight Club. What may surprise people is that this scene was nowhere in the script and actually the result of some drunken shenanigans on set.
Oh wait, that’s not the scene I was talking about. Still too awesome not to post here.
The scene I speak of is this scene:
I swear me and my friends do cool, spontaneous stuff like this all the time.
The rumor was that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton were firing golf balls at the catering truck after they had been doing some late-night drinking on the set. Fincher th0ught it was so cool and anarchistic of them, he turned the camera on them and had them do the dialogue for the scene while hitting said golf balls at said truck while under the influence of alcohol.
There is such an authentic feel to everything about Fight Club, and that is because everything, right down to the drunken alpha-male chemistry between its stars, WAS authentic.
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter: All Of It, I Guess.
Alright, I may catch some heat for this vague entry on the list, because this is not a “scene” so much as it is a whole series, but how could I write this list on Unreality and not bring up the fact that Harry Potter was drunk all the time, apparently. I honestly had no idea before I started this piece.
Alcohol consumption does explain this photo, and his choice to do that Broadway play where he gets naked and stabs that hose in the eyes, Equus.
Well, this one was a shock to even me. Apparently, Daniel Radcliffe was drunk while filming most of the Harry Potter series. Like black out drunk, staggering into work, still “pissed” from the night before. Though I cannot tell you specific scenes, the beauty of Radcliffe releasing these statements is that they were released onto the internet, which has led to much speculation based on what he said.
I look at this picture and want to vomit Butterbeer all over the place, so imagine how he felt. Peptoist Bismaltius!
Apparently, because he was so vague with his statements, and implied he was always drunk, we can just assume he was always drunk.
His inky thumbs hint at a much darker lifestyle than any of us can fathom.
The thing is, The Harry Potter series is pretty awesome, start to finish, so if booze helped ease that performance out of a meek kid (which Daniel Radcliffe was at the time), but he has since gotten a handle on the problem, I say so be it. Butterbeer for all!
Nic Cage in Leaving Las Vegas
I sometimes feel the need to defend Nic Cage from the constant onslaught he gets from the public. Let us not forget that Vampire’s Kiss might be one of the greatest over-the-top performances of the my generation. Yes, by the time he reached the Wicker Man, he had become a sad impression of himself, but still, there was a time when the man made some pretty decent films. Well, very rarely, actually, but one of those rare films is Leaving Las Vegas.
Man, when Cage does the “I look like I’m gonna die” look in this movie, you buy it.
Leaving Las Vegas is a heart warming tale of a man who chooses to spend his last few days of life with a hooker who starred in Adventures in Babysitting before he drinks himself to death in Vegas. And though it was zany Nic Cage at times, there is no denying that the film is quite bleak and hard to watch in moments.
Drunk driving next to a cop is the definition of rock-bottom, I think.
Now there are two schools of thought when it comes to this film. Those who take Cage at his word, and believe him that he filmed himself drunk for weeks and weeks before filming, and then studied the film so he could mimic himself. Or, you could know that Nic Cage is batshit insane and a method actor, and realize he was probably actually drunk for most of the movie. Some want to argue that. Whoever does, watch this clip of him flipping out (pulling a Cage?!) in REAL LIFE and tell me the difference.
This is Nic Cage in real life.
And this is Cage in the movies:
See, not much of a difference between the two clips, huh?
So in conclusion, Nic Cage must have been falling down drunk for most of his adult career. That is the only thing that explains his decision making it certain points.
Pretty sure if you stopped screaming and flailing, the CG bees wouldn’t actually do anything, dude.
Peter O’Toole: My Favorite Year
A drunk who was always drunk playing a drunk who was always drunk. Drunkception. No, I am not done with crappy Inception jokes yet. Especially not now that Christopher Nolan is trending.
Come on, we have all done it. OK, maybe not ALL of us.
Peter O’Toole was famous for always being drunk, so the idea that he is playing an actor who was famous for always being drunk on set was ironic. The story was supposedly based around Mel Brooks time working with Errol Flynn, and how it was a constant struggle to keep him from getting completely sauced between takes. Ironically, O’Toole was pretty much shattered the whole time. But that irony is what makes it all so fitting.
Plus, O’Toole was pissing in plants before it was cool.
A Few Other Booze Fueled Moments in Celebrity:
Mickey Rourke in Barfly. I cannot tell you if Rourke was actually drunk in his turn as poet/author Charles Bukowski, but I can tell you he looked like he smelled like booze, and his charismatic, subtle slur worked wonders.
When I imagine how Mickey Rourke’s bed sheets smell, I die a little inside.
Richard E.Grant in Withnail and I. Maybe the most under-rated drunk performance ever portrayed on film? You know how I know it is underrated? You guys are Googling it right now.
While not so much a moment on film, seeing how far Orson Welles had fallen while trying to film this drunk commercial was just embarrassing and makes this a good note to end this article on so as to scare the kids away from the Jesus juice.
He is so drunk here, I need a puke bucket next to me.