Actors Studio veteran Ellen Burstyn takes the Method to an extreme in “Twice in a Lifetime” (opening in November) by sacrificing her lobe for an on-camera ear-piercing.
The scene portrays her character’s growing independence after husband Gene Hackman leaves her for Ann-Margret. The operation (with an ear-piercing “gun”) was Burstyn’s idea. “I designed a certain moment in the film where my character stops being a victim, where she turns her life around. I’m out shopping with my daughter (played by Amy Madigan), and I decide to get my ears pierced. (By saying) ‘Go ahead and pierce,’ I was saying yes to life.”
Although a repulsed male crew member called the act a “primitive” initiation rite, Burstyn insisted on going through with it. Nonetheless, Madigan said, “Ellen practically shot out of her seat when that ear-piercing gun went off.”
All in character, no doubt.