I just saw the movie Breach last night. It is about Robert Hanssen, the real life story of the most destructive spy against the US government who has ever lived. Chris Cooper played Hanssen. Although I have seen little of him, I always enjoyed Chris Cooper's acting. But after Breach, he is without question one of my favorite actors.
The movie was good, but what really got me hooked was watching a couple short DVD documentaries in the extras. Considering how much Hollywood fluff is out there (models > actors, bodies > minds), Cooper's devotion to his craft is inspiring.
This is what Cooper did to get ready for his role:
1. Watched the only ten-second film clip of Hanssen available to him an ungodly amount of times
2. Incessantly interviewed the real life FBI operative who knew Hanssen best
3. Read "seven or eight" books on Hanssen
4. Spent two weeks prior to the film rehearsing with his primary actor partner in the film
In my work with facilitators, presenters, and teachers, I would estimate about 15% of the people I know are as committed to their work as Cooper (he is an Oscar winner, after all). I wish I could say I knew a lot of people with these habits, but when it comes down to it, massive devotion to one's work is unique. Other things take precedence: family needs, health concerns, TV - many things both important and ridiculous.
I am on the hunt.