People tend to forget that actors are professionals who are practicing their craft. It takes a lot of training to be able to accurately portray another person and that’s especially true when that person is nothing like the actor or actress playing them.
Whether an actor needs to play someone drunk or sober, they aren’t (usually) going to shoot up actual heroin to make it look like they are shooting up heroin– that’s why they are called actors! Then, there are those times when the scene is so difficult or horribly uncomfortable to shoot, the people involved just need to knock back a drink or two… to take the edge off. Think about it for a second: you need to act in a love scene with a coworker while both of you are married and dozens of people are watching and talking you through it. Even some of the greatest actors of all time needed a shot or two for some of those scenes.
We dug up these times 15 Actors Who Had To Drink (A LOT) For Their Roles.
15. EVERY NARRATOR ON DRUNK HISTORY
We had to get the most obvious one out of the way first. Comedy Central’s Drunk History is the perfect example of a show that couldn’t possibly work without people getting drunk on set. It’s in the title and there’s a good reason for it. The premise of the show involves getting guest celebrities drunk so they can retell a particular period of history, which is then acted out in the exact manner they narrated.
Most of the time, the guest stars get so wasted, it takes a long time to shoot their dialogue and, on occasion, some have even thrown up they got so inebriated. Just about any period or important event from history has been covered on the show. Whether it’s the story of Al Capone or how the bra came into being, they aren’t afraid to get wasted and cover it. We admit this one is somewhat of a cheat, but the comments would have burned us alive if we didn’t include it.
14. DENISE RICHARDS, NEVE CAMPBELL, & MATT DILLON – WILD THINGS
Sex scenes with two actors are probably difficult to shoot for most people, but when a third person is introduced, the awkwardness only increases. Wild Things is known for its over sexualized depictions of a threesome and the three stars in question, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, and Matt Dillon have all admitted they needed to turn to a bottle of tequila to get the job done.
It seems tequila is there for a lot of actors who need to get through a sex scene (just keep on reading to see what we mean). The scenes in Wild Things were pretty racy back in 1998 when the film came out, but they have definitely stood the test of time. Nearly two decades later and it’s probably the only scene most people can recall.
13. JOHNNY DEPP – THE RUM DIARY
If there’s one thing we know about Johnny Depp, it’s that he has a true appreciation for his friend, Hunter S. Thompson. He has played a version of the famous writer twice; once in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and a second time in The Rum Diary. Depp’s love and appreciation are what brought The Rum Diary to the screen. While visiting the journalist’s home, he found a manuscript and decided to turn it into a film that evening. Director Bruce Robinson even came out of retirement to direct it.
Unfortunately, Depp wasn’t the only person to imbibe while filming. Robinson was six months sober when he and Depp partook in a bottle of Chivas Regal on set. It’s said that they frequented the bottle throughout the filming process, which likely helped Depp get into character (Thompson was a notorious drug and alcohol user).
12. BRAD PITT & ED NORTON – FIGHT CLUB
There’s a lot of drinking going on in Fight Club, but Brad Pitt and Ed Norton are professionals who wouldn’t drink while working… and they didn’t. At least, not exactly. While taking a break from filming, the two cast members decided to throw back a few and hit some golf balls into a catering truck. The two were just having some fun and taking a load off when director David Fincher decided to point the camera in their direction.
Remember the scene in the film where they are hitting golf balls off into the distance while drinking and just hanging out? That’s what Fincher shot: two actors taking a break, hitting some balls, and taking a few drinks.
In the other scenes where they are drinking beer like the one pictured, they were sober. In a way, that’s disappointing as these guys are so good at their jobs, it certainly seemed like they were truly drinking. Thankfully, Fincher decided to put the scene into the movie and hardly anyone ever noticed.
11. SHIA LABEOUF – LAWLESS
Shia LaBeouf has had a few problems on and off the screen in recent years, but he does take his job seriously.
In the film Lawless, LaBeouf plays a bootlegger in Virginia during Prohibition. In order to “get into character”, the actor turned to moonshine and would drink himself silly before shooting. His reasoning was to make his character look like he had been drinking, which he accomplished by drinking.
LaBeouf said “I did it for the movie. I didn’t drink off set for no reason….I did it because, when I showed up on set the next day, my f—ing eyes looked like this and my face…had that drunk bloat that I needed, that I couldn’t have if that wasn’t going on.”
According to his co-stars, he did drink on set as well and this caused numerous problems. Mia Wasikowska attempted to leave the production due to her discomfort in working with LaBeouf– she had to play his love interest and he was volatile on set. Other cast members described his drunken antics as aggressive behavior.
10. PETER O’ TOOLE – LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
Peter O’Toole was known throughout his time in front of the camera as something of hellraiser. He was never shy about his drinking though it took a few years before he admitted to it during the filming of Lawrence of Arabia, his breakthrough performance. Shortly before filming a camel-riding scene, he and co-star Omar Sharif got drunk… so drunk in fact, they had to tie themselves to the camels in order to film the scene.
It’s actually a little worse than you might think. During the shooting, he was so intoxicated, he didn’t know where he was or what he was doing. That’s impressive given the stellar performance O’Toole gave in the film.
It wasn’t the only film he was sloshed filming either. During The Lion in Winter, he lost the tip of a finger in a boating accident, dipped it in some brandy and wrapped it back into place. It was a few weeks before he realized he put his finger back the wrong way around.
9. ANNA KENDRICK – DRINKING BUDDIES
If you ever wondered how actors could make it through shooting scene after scene of them drinking beer and wondered how it was possible, it’s because they were drinking non-alcoholic beer. Sure seems like a no-brainer, but mistakes can be made. While shooting the movie Drinking Buddies, which clearly deserves a place on this list, Anna Kendrick was throwing back non-alcoholic beers like crazy until someone accidentally gave her the real thing.
When you think about it, mixing the two up is pretty easy and she ended up drinking a lot of it. According to Kendrick, she was embarrassed about her drunkenness on set. “I was pounding beer, and I didn’t realize it was real until halfway through the take. I was like, I’m super drunk right now! “
This was a case of an actor accidentally getting drunk on set, but going forward with filming the scenes anyway. We have to wonder, how much of what she was doing was acting and how much was just Anna Kendrick sloshed at work?
8. MARTIN SHEEN – APOCALYPSE NOW
The opening scene of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now features the main character, Captain Benjamin L. Willard, played by Martin Sheen, drinking in a hotel room. Sheen was so devoted to playing the character “method”, he wasn’t drinking water during the scene and got himself so wasted, he ended up injuring himself. When he punches the mirror in the scene and bloodies his hand, That isn’t stage blood, but rather Sheen’s dripping all over the set.
Sheen came to work drunk that day, and it was the first day of filming. Coppola was probably smart to turn the cameras on his star and shoot him even though he was intoxicated. Most of the film was used in the shot, which is one of the strangest opening scenes in any film. The shots you don’t see are of Sheen attacking his director. Literally. That’s what happens when you get a Sheen drunk on set.
7. ROBERT SHAW – JAWS
If you know anything about the production of what many call the first Hollywood summer blockbuster, Jaws, you know there were some major issues. Steven Spielberg had to contend with a mechanical shark that barely worked and production delays that threatened the whole project. What you may not know is that Robert Shaw drank so much during the filming, he had to be dragged on and off the set.
During the scene where Shaw’s character has a monologue about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis (pictured), he was so intoxicated, the crew had to carry him onto the set and set him down. He continued drinking so much, he actually blacked out, which cut filming short for the day.
The following day, Shaw came in and made up for his drinking by shooting the scene that made it into the final cut of the film, but most of the time, he was difficult to work with and created a lot of problems on set.
6. HARRISON FORD & CARRIE FISHER – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
This one is a bit less about drinking to get through filming a scene and more about showing up for work drunk. Carrie Fisher spoke a lot about her drinking, especially during her filming of The Empire Strikes Back. The cast and crew didn’t shy away from a party, but on one occasion, Fisher and Harrison Ford bumped into the Rolling Stones and you can guess what happened: they partied and got wasted. There’s nothing wrong with that — it’s even expected when you hang out with the Stones.
The only problem was the following day since the party never ended and they continued to drink well into the morning. By the time they arrived on set to shoot the scenes of the Millenium Falcon arriving at Cloud City, Fisher and Ford were still pretty drunk. “We weren’t hung over….we were still in our cups. And if you watch the movie you can see that: Harrison and I are smiling as we arrived in Cloud City. Doesn’t that sound like a euphemism?” You will never watch that scene the same way again.
5. LOHN LEGUIZAMO & BOB HOSKINS – SUPER MARIO BROS.
What do you do when you know for a fact the film you are working on will be a big, stinking pile of suck when it finally hits theaters? According to John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins, you drink your troubles away.
If you have seen the horrible adaptation of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System game, we are sorry for you, but you also know how bad of a film it is. We won’t go into just how bad it is here since there is a limit to how many words a person will read before passing out, but let’s just say, some movies are best left entirely on the cutting room floor.
Leguizamo brought a bottle of Scotch onto the set so he and Hoskins could get through filming the crap that was Super Mario Brothers. The two got so wasted on set, Leguizamo accidentally slammed a van door on Hoskins’ hand, injuring him. Hoskins needed to wear a cast after the injury, which you can see in some of the scenes of the film… but you are better off taking our word for it.
4. NATALIE PORTMAN & MILA KUNIS – BLACK SWAN
There are two kinds of people who have seen Black Swan: those who watched the movie and those who watched one scene in the movie. Whether you are one or the other doesn’t matter since you definitely saw the scene in question. This is one of those situations where two professional actors with no sexual chemistry have to make it look like they are completely and wholly into one another and have graphic sex for the world to see.
According to a source on set, the actresses split a bottle of tequila to get in the mood. According to Portman and Kunis, no alcohol was imbibed during the filming of the scene, but it’s likely they were just being professional when asked about it. Either way, it’s a steamy scene so we couldn’t blame them for knocking back a few to get through it.
3. MARGOT ROBBIE – THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
It’s hard to believe, but Margot Robbie was fairly new to acting when she smashed into Hollywood in Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Her work prior to the film was on television and only one movie so this was a big break for her. Even the most veteran actors have trouble filming sex scenes, but when Robbie had to film a rather graphic one with Leonardo DiCaprio, the Australian actress needed a little help. She got the help she needed with a few shots of tequila.
She was so scared of filming the scene, a crew member took pity and offered her a flask. Initially, she refused, saying it was only nine in the morning, but she acquiesced and slammed a few. “And I did three shots of tequila and then took my clothes off and did the scene and I was fine,” she said. “It really helped stop my hands shaking, and gave me a little boost of confidence.”
2. BILLY BOB THORNTON – BAD SANTA
Billy Bob Thorton is known as something of a drinker and rumor has it, he was drinking “in character” on the set of Bad Santa.
Thorton hasn’t been shy about discussing his drinking on set either. He admitted that most of his scenes in the film showing his drunken antics were shot while he was drunk. His methods might raise a few eyebrows, but his on-set intoxication certainly pulled off a memorable holiday film that is still associated with the Christmas season.
Thorton is an excellent actor and he could have certainly pulled off playing the truly bad Santa, Willie in the film sober, but he chose to do it drunk.Whatever his reasons, it’s not surprising he pushed for a sequel, which came out in 2016.
1. FRED ASTAIRE – HOLIDAY INN
For our last entry, we decided to go with the last guy you would expect to get wasted on the job: Fred Astaire.
According to his daughter, Ava, the legendary dancer and star of the silver screen prepared for the drunken dancing scene in Holiday Inn by downing a shot of bourbon before each take. That doesn’t seem like a lot of alcohol… it’s just one shot. What you probably don’t know is that they took eight takes of that scene before they decided upon the last one. That means that the scene they decided on for the final cut was the one where Astaire was the most inebriated.
That’s eight shots of bourbon to film one scene and for most people, dancing and acting after eight shots of bourbon is something of an impossibility. Not for the legendary performer who could dance circles around pretty much anyone and everyone sober so seeing him do so on the sauce only helps solidify his abilities as one of Hollywood’s greatest.
Did we miss any of your favorite drunken actors or actresses? Let us know in the comments who we should have added to the list.
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