A Blog on Cinema

Method Acting and Superstars


(Frequent visitor James left this as a comment. It addresses an important topic and hence it is promoted as an article. If you are leaving a comment, it has to be within the context of the acting differences. If you want to you simply state your favourite actor is superior as a slogan, then this would be the wrong place.)

It is true, in some ways, of the fact that Mammootty’s style in more inclined towards the more famous part of method acting. Whereas Mohanlal’s style seems to be the opposite to it. Due to the fact he doesn’t prepare all that much for a role.

I’m not saying one actor is better to another; I’m just talking about their acting schools. There are many different acting schools, and the most famous among them is method acting, internationally, which was born out of the Stanislavski’s system, but both of them are different schools. “The Method” is popular because of legends such as Brando, DeNiro, Pacino, Dean, Newman etc. who were students of it. My personal fav in this school is Montgomery Clift (recently saw the underrated Hitchcock film I Confess).

Coming back to the point, Mohanlal is more of a spontaneous actor. As he usually says in his interviews. He transforms into the character as the director says ‘action’. One of his best abilities is showing the most inner feelings of the character, the expressions in his face so naturally. In films such as Kireedam, Bharatham, Iruvar, Vanaprastam etc. But an actor like him can’t play historical figures or other characters who are based on real life because his weakness seems to be the inability to transform physically into a character, or to change his accent as to the character. But I wouldn’t completely say Mammootty is a full fledged “method actor”. I’m saying his style is inclined more towards it. With his performances in films such as Nirakkoottu, Thaniyavartanam, Oru CBI Diary Kurippu, Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha, Mrigaya, Padheyam, and  Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

I’m no expert, I’m no actor. I’m just a guy who dreams of being a filmmaker.

I mean all I know is what I here in these documentaries, interviews, wiki, or the performances of method actors where people like DeNiro and Bale change their weight (change physically) to be like their characters in films such as Raging Bull and The Machinist. Or where Pacino changed his accent in Scarface to be like his character: a Cuban. Even Brando changed the outside appearances (physical) to be like a gangster and an Italian-American in The Godfather. I thought this was what Method Acting is all about, or at least the main style of it. But it seems like that just a part of it, there’s more to it.

As Micheal Mills puts in his site the Method
“emphasized an individualized, psychological approach to acting”

“The “Method” required a performer to draw on his or her own self, on experiences, memories, and emotions that could inform a characterization and shape how a character might speak or move. Characters were thus shown to have an interior life; rather than being stereotyped figures representing a single concept (the villain, the heroine), they could become complex human beings with multiple and contradictory feelings and desires. It was the ability to convey the complexity-indeed the confusion of inner feelings that made the Actors Studio-trained Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and James Dean such emblematic figures for the Postwar era. ” (this is of course what Mohanlal did best!)

Hence, the Method mainly is an acting school which taught both aspects that Mammootty and Mohanlal excelled at.

So a perfect actor is some one who has mastered both of these aspects. Though “the ability to convey the complexity-indeed the confusion of inner feelings” is a very hard thing to do. Very few can do it, and that’s why I consider Mohanlal to be one of the best actors in the world. As Anthony Hopkins puts it “these people, they come up once in a century”

Now that I think about it, Mammootty can hide himself and become some one else, he can be his character. Mohanlal is able to easily portray human emotions quite easily and naturally. Though the way Lal handled his Aadu Thoma character, it seems to have a “method acting” technique to it.

The thing that made Marlon Brando quite extraordinary in the 50s was that he had both Lal and Mammootty’s abilities.


  1. I think the author has done a genuine analysis. It is impossible to judge who is better (though thats the question every one is looking for an answer), but we can identify the areas in which one would outperform the other.

    . If you consider the completeness of the charecter , like body language accent mammootty scores over lal .

    .If you consider bringing up right emotions on the face to right extent lal scores better .

    Lal can do a broader range of charecters, (not that he can do all of them, no one can infact ) and mammootty can be outstanding in what he does well (close to 100% perfection .)

    In short mammootty acts with his brain and lal acts with his heart .

    • someone who is thinking ouitdse the nutshell and with right SENSE and ATTITUDE.@JojoPlease dont think that, when someones not agreeing with you, then all he saying is BS!!!Ya (not most) some of the celebs have done liquor ads, but that doesnt makes it a R.I.G.H.T. on the moral side. You see, they have their personal freedom and all stuuf, but the thing is a celebrity is followed and watched by many, including children, so when they are doing these kind of ads it corrupts the young minds of India.I see you are a hardcore fan of Lal, please dont think i hate Lal, but i will criticize what ever he is doing wrong.Reply

  2. Well, if any one is interesting in knowing
    more about the art of acting, some good books are:

    “An Actor Prepares” by Constantin Stanislavski

    “The Art of Acting” by Stella Adler (one of the main teachers of “method acting”)

    “A Dream of Passion” by Lee Strasberg (another main teacher)

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  4. sorry about that, Duvall is not a method actor.
    He is a student of a different school, the Meisner technique.

    Looking at the interview I’m pretty sure most people
    can guess the big difference it has with “Method Acting”.

  5. I like Bharath Gopi’s acting too.. I think he does spontaneous acting like lal

    • Hi Ratheesh,

      Bharat Gopi is not only spontaneous. Perhaps he is the only actor in malayalam who is eligible to be called as a method actor……Each of the characters he portrayed was uniquely both accent and body language

  6. Pingback: Lalinekkalum nalla Actor Mammootty-Fazil's interview - Page 14 - Malayalam Cinema Forum

  7. Pingback: Lalinekkalum nalla Actor Mammootty-Fazil's interview - Page 15 - Malayalam Cinema Forum

  8. I think somebody is trying to prove Mohanlal is the best actor in the world.The article reaches there or the author wants to reach that point.
    this will work out those who knows nothing abt acting..
    keep going..

    • Now u seems to know nothing about acting…..some people always believes what they want to believe…so carry on

  9. Mammootty does a pretty good job in the Telugu film Swathi Kiranam. I guess I forgot to mention that as well. Of course this was just a comment that turned into an article.

  10. Mammootty, the Method Actor. Watch my documentary ……

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