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    25 Incredible Skills Actors Actually Learned For Films That'll Change The Way You See Them

    From free-diving to indigenous languages!

    1. For his role in Call Me By Your Name, Timothée Chalamet learned how to speak Italian, and spent four hours a day trying to master the piano and the guitar.

    Sony Pictures Classics, Stephane Cardinale/Corbis / Via Getty Images

    Timothée went to Italy about a month and a half before the movie began filming to pick up the skills he needed to play Elio. Though he is fluent in French, Timothée said he struggled with Italian, and learned enough to get by. The writers behind the movie were keen to see Elio play piano during the film, and although Timothée played as a kid, he studied under Italian composer Roberto Solci so he could get the more complicated stuff down.

    2. For her role in the upcoming movie Avatar 2, Kate Winslet learned to free-dive and hold her breath for over seven minutes.

    @jonplandau/Instagram, Kate Karwai Tang / WireImage / Via Getty Images

    In the much-anticipated sequel, Kate plays a "water-person". To perform scenes underwater, she trained how to dive without the use of breathing apparatus such as scuba gear, describing it as "crazy, crazy stuff." The longest she could hold her breath was seven minutes and 14 seconds!

    3. Tom Cruise learned to fly a helicopter himself for the 2018 film Mission Impossible: Fallout.

    Paramount Pictures, Scott Gries / Via Getty Images

    Hollywood stalwart Tom is known for doing his own stunts, but for this movie he took things up a notch and spent over 2,000 hours training to become a helicopter pilot. One of his instructors has since praised Tom's unparalleled level of dedication and focus. He even learned how to do a 'corkscrew dive', which is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres in all of helicopter flying!

    4. Danai Gurira undertook some extremely intense sword training for her role in The Walking Dead.

    AMC, Gregg DeGuire / WireImage / Via Getty Images

    After she was cast as Michonne, Danai had a lot of sword training with a sumarai sword – or katana – so that her character's incredible skills looked authentic. She has said the sword is tantamount to swinging a five-foot long dumbbell around! After learning to fight, Danai felt able to contribute to choreographing scenes on set. She continues to incorporate sword work into her daily exercise.

    5. Unbelievably, Bryan Cranston learned how to cook crystal meth for his role as a drug kingpin in Breaking Bad.

    Ben Leuner / AMC, Brian Michael Loccisano / Via Getty Images

    Bryan has revealed that during the filming of Breaking Bad, he was taught how to make meth by Drug Enforcement Agency chemists who acted as consultants on the show. Although they didn't make any for real, Bryan was instructed in exactly how to do it. Of the process, he has said "it's very interesting, intricate, and dangerous."

    6. To play The Bride in the Kill Bill films, Uma Thurman had to learn three styles of kung fu, two styles of sword fighting, knife throwing, knife fighting, hand-to-hand combat, and Japanese.

    Miramax Films, JB Lacroix / WireImage / Via Getty Images

    The Bride is one of the best fighters in cinema history, so to portray the part convincingly, Uma had to put in a lot of work! She, Vivica A. Fox, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, and David Carradine all had to train eight hours a day for three months. They'd get in trouble if they were even a minute late to training, and Quentin Tarantino reviewed their progress every week. Uma has described the training for the movie as "absurd".

    7. As the dashing Noah Flynn in The Kissing Booth, Jacob Elordi had to ride a motorbike, which he learned on set in South Africa.

    Netflix, Chris Delmas/AFP / Via Getty Images

    According to Jacob, someone called Neil – who I hope was connected to movie – "threw" him on a motorcycle on the freeway and told him to just spend some time with the bike and figure it out. He fell off a lot, but eventually got the hang of it.

    8. For his final film, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Chadwick Boseman learned to play the trumpet from scratch.

    Netflix, Emma McIntyre / Via Getty Images for MTV

    His co-star, Glynn Turman, recalls hearing Chadwick practising in his hotel room ahead of filming in order to master the instrument. The Marvel star played a troubled instrumentalist looking to break into the music world. Glynn has said that Chadwick's dedication inspired everyone in the cast to be just as good as him!

    9. When he learned that he would be playing Noah in The Notebook, Ryan Gosling started figuring out how to build furniture just like the character.

    New Line Cinema, Dave J Hogan / Via Getty Images

    Gosling actually has a bit of a history of going above and beyond for his roles – he learned jazz piano for La La Land, and he took mixology classes after landing his role in Crazy, Stupid, Love. But perhaps most interestingly, Ryan apprenticed with a cabinetmaker before playing Noah Calhoun in The Notebook. He even built some of furniture featured in the movie!

    10. For her turn as a prima ballerina in Black Swan, Natalie Portman spent eight hours a day training as a ballet dancer.

    Fox Searchlight Pictures, Mike Marsland / WireImage / Via Getty Images

    I guess it comes as no surprise that Natalie spent a long time training to become as good a ballerina as her character in the film. Her gruelling schedule, which even saw her dislocate a rib during rehearsals, left her feeling like she was "literally going to die"... "It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down."

    11. Margot Robbie practised ice skating for three months to learn the necessary skills to portray Olympic skater Tonya Harding.

    Neon/30West, Jeff Spicer / Via Getty Images

    Margot worked with skating choreographer Sarah Kawahara, and trained four times a week for 12 weeks. On her progress, Margot said "we were just a few weeks from shooting... and I thought I was never going to get [it], [but] then, one day, it just clicked." While some of the trickier stuff was done by stunt doubles, Margot was able to perform the entire first minute of Tonya's actual 1994 Olympic routine, which is no mean feat!

    12. After casting deaf actor Millicent Simmonds in A Quiet Place, the entire main cast learned American Sign Language for every line in the script.

    Paramount Pictures, Arturo Holmes / WireImage / Via Getty Images

    Director and star John Krasinski has said he was glad to cast a deaf actor in the role of his deaf daughter, and that it was "non-negotiable" for him. Millicent then acted as a consultant for the movie, which mostly takes place in silence with the actors often communicating in sign language.

    13. Similarly, Riz Ahmed learned American Sign Language in order to play a heavy metal musician who loses his hearing in Sound of Metal.

    Amazon Studios, Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic / Via Getty Images

    To prepare for his role and get as close as possible to fluency, Riz teamed up with ASL coach Jeremy Lee Stone and spent seven months learning sign language and meeting with members of the deaf community to learn about the lifestyle.

    14. To play the title character in The Pianist, Adrien Brody learned to play classical piano.

    Focus Features/StudioCanal, Mike Marsland / WireImage / Via Getty Images

    In one of his most celebrated and singular roles, Adrien portrays the Polish-Jewish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman who was confined to the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. To play such an accomplished piano player, director Roman Polanski made Adrien practise four hours a day until he could master passages from the work of Frédéric Chopin, a favourite composer of Szpilman.

    15. For his role in The Walk, Joseph Gordon-Levitt learned to tightrope walk by training with the very man he was portraying – Philippe Petit!

    Sony Pictures Releasing, Tim Mosenfelder / Via Getty Images

    In 1974, Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the twin towers in New York that was roughly 1,300 feet above the ground. To be able to bring his story to the screen, Joseph trained to walk tightropes and wires and became quite good! Eventually, he could walk across a wire two feet off the ground with no problem at all. He also learned other forms of clown acts, including how to ride a unicycle.

    16. Bradley Cooper based his character in A Star Is Born on fellow actor Sam Elliott, and spent six months with a dialect coach trying to imitate Sam's voice.

    Warner Bros. Pictures, Presley Ann / FilmMagic / Via Getty Images

    Bradley played troubled country rock singer Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born, and trained his voice to sound just like Sam Elliott – and this was all before Sam had even been cast as his on-screen brother! Bradley thought Sam's California/Texas hybrid accent was the ideal model for Jackson, and worked on getting his voice just right for four hours a day. When Sam agreed to be in the film, Bradley was overjoyed, responding, "thank God he said yes... [otherwise] six months of work on my voice would have gone down the drain."

    17. As Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Russell Crowe learned how to play the violin and how to sail a tall ship.

    20th Century Fox, Araya Diaz / WireImage / Via Getty Images

    Russell did one-on-one tutorials with Captain Andy Reay-Ellers about how to sail, and undertook technical reading to really ingratiate himself in the world of a 19th century sailor. He also learned to play the violin in the months leading up to filming, and later sold the antique instrument he practised on at auction for £73,528!

    18. To play legendary Chinese warrior Mulan, Yifei Lui trained in the art of "wushu", a form of contemporary Chinese martial arts that includes barehand and weapon-play styles.

    Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Frazer Harrison / Via Getty Images for Disney

    Before filming Mulan, Liu Yifei was already an accomplished martial artist, having starred in the 2008 movie The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Even so, the training for the Disney live-action adaptation was pretty intense and required six or seven hours of training a day for at least three months. Cinematographer Mandy Walker has said that Liu Yifei did around 90% of her own stunts, which included horseback riding, battle sequences, sword fighting, and martial arts!

    19. Jesse Eisenberg had to master the art of close-up magic for his part in Now You See Me.

    Summit Entertainment, Dimitrios Kambouris / Via Getty Images

    Jesse's character in the movie is one of the best sleight-of-hand magicians in the world, so in order to play this convincingly, Jesse studied the fundamentals and theory behind magic as well as rehearsing the specific tricks he had to perform in the film. The actor has said that early on his training he realised that "if you learn some of the basic principles you can apply those principles to many different tricks or illusions."

    20. For her role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara enrolled in computer training and learned how to hack like her character in the film.

    Sony Pictures Releasing, Jean-Baptiste Lacroix/AFP / Via Getty Images

    Lisbeth Salander is a world-class computer hacker, so Rooney took it upon herself to know what she was getting into and what her character was truly capable of when she brushed up on computer hacking. She also dyed and shredded her hair, pierced her nipple and face, shaved off her eyebrows, learned to ride a motorbike, and studied kickboxing!

    21. The most random skill of all might just be skinning a dead squirrel, which Jennifer Lawrence learned whilst filming Winter’s Bone.

    Roadside Attractions, Neilson Barnard / Via Getty Images

    Jennifer may have had to master archery for her iconic turn in The Hunger Games films, but for her role in Winter's Bone she had to convince audiences she was a survival expert at one with nature. A part of this was learning how to realistically skin a squirrel for some reason, which a friend of her brother's demonstrated for her.

    22. Channing Tatum had to grapple with tap dancing for his role in Hail, Caesar!

    Alison Cohen Rosa/Universal Pictures, Taylor Hill / WireImage / Via Getty Images

    When the Coen Brothers cast Channing in their film about Hollywood in the 1950s, they assumed he could dance given his work in Step Up and Magic Mike. But Channing had no idea how to tap dance, and for the sake of a six minute sequence, he spent around three months preparing how to deliver a top-notch performance – including training himself over the Christmas holidays!

    23. During the production of his passion-project Chef, Jon Favreau learned how to cook professionally.

    AP Photo/Open Road Films/Merrick Morton, Max Mumby/Indigo / Via Getty Images

    In this heartwarming comedy-drama, Jon's character quits his restaurant job and opens his own food truck business with his son. In order to get to grips with cooking, Jon collaborated on the movie with pro chef Roy Choi, who suggested he go to culinary school. Eventually, Jon's love of cooking and his skills in the kitchen spun off into a Netflix series called The Chef Show, in which Jon tries out recipes with Roy and special guests including Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., and Gwyneth Paltrow.

    24. Just as Johnny Utah learns how to surf in Point Break, Keanu Reeves had to learn IRL!

    20th Century Fox, Jason Merritt / Via Getty Images

    Keanu got to grips with surfing under the watchful eye of Dennis Jarvis, known as the "surf doctor of Hollywood". Dennis also taught Keanu's co-stars Patrick Swayze and Lori Petty concurrently, and spent about two months getting them all movie-ready. Keanu ending up enjoying it so much that Dennis made him a custom board he could surf with in his spare time!

    25. Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy learned to speak an indigenous dialect for The Revenant.

    20th Century Fox, Piyal Hosain/Fotos International / Via Getty Images

    Set against the harsh North and South Dakota outback in the early 1800s, The Revenant frequently references many contemporaneous Native American tribes. Leo's character has a Native American son, and we hear them speak the language of the indigenous Arikara people on numerous occasions. To pick up this critically endangered dialect, Leo and the rest of the cast worked with an indigenous cultural consultant to master the esoteric tongue.

    Did we miss anything out? Let us know in the comments!

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