For his role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Charlie Sheen did something that today would seem almost completely unnecessary, well at least for him that is. He stayed awake for 48 hours straight to get the correct look for his part.
Actors going to extreme lengths to make their roles appear authentic is not necessarily a new trend. They have been known to gain or lose weight, undergo extensive dental work (Robert De Niro), or annoyingly remain in character right throughout filming, just like Daniel Day Lewis does. It’s a level of dedication to their work that can be highly rewarding. Charlie Sheen is not immune to this behaviour, and it paid off with a very convincing portrayal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
If you can recall Charlie Sheen’s small part in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, it was as a wasted junkie awaiting to be charged while in a police station. He looked disheveled, drunk and just generally a right royal mess. His part consisted of only a few lines in one scene. The role was initially supposed to be a much larger part of the movie, giving a deeper back story as to why Ferris Bueller did what he did. The role was significantly reduced in the final cut.
To prepare for the scene, Charlie Sheen didn’t sleep for 48 hours straight to give a more realistic impression of a messed up junkie. It was definitely something that make up alone could have achieved, but make up still fails to tick all of the boxes for genuine realism. It is a testament of his dedication to perfection that such a small part, a part that is only credited as “boy in police station,” that it is still remembered to today.
About two decades later he hit headlines once again for a similar reason. It appears as though he was taking the Daniel Day Lewis route, practically living the life of his fictional character of Charlie Harper on Two and a Half Men. I’m guessing that perhaps this is something that he should have avoided.
Remember how we said the part was supposed to be bigger? Turns out that in the original script he was a friend of Ferris’ from the 8th grade who had a troubled family. Ferris was the only person who ever tried to help him. He ended up dropping out of school and got into more trouble, until we see him in the police station. He even had a name, Garth Volbeck. This back story more adequately explained why Ferris did what he did.