Daniel Day-Lewis and Christian Bale, accomplished method actors that they are, pale in comparison to a lesser known, far more committed thespian: the anonymous person who dresses up like a polar bear and chases people around during escape drills at a Japanese zoo.
As shown in a resurfaced Associated Press video from back in 2015, this unknown genius goes far beyond losing and gaining dangerous amounts of weight or speaking to film crews in an affected accent to perfect their craft.
Decked out in a cartoon polar bear suit, complete with frowny eyebrows and an anime-style bulging temple vein, the Bear Actor loses themselves entirely within their role to realistically simulate what the staff of Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo might be up against if one of their ursine wards was to break free.
Over the course of a chilling two-minute video, the Bear Actor is seen rampaging through the zoo, knocking over people trying to catch it in nets and doing a Benny Hill routine around a bunch of outdoor cafeteria tables as would-be victims try not to laugh at the furious pursuit of the agent of their doom. Eventually, cornered by a car full of staff looking to put an end to its thirst for slaughter, the Bear Actor is “shot” with a tranquilizer gun by a very serious-looking man in glasses. Felt mouth agape and pajama-like bodysuit limp, it’s loaded onto a flatbed truck by a group of brave workers.
Sure, the Bear Actor may choose to run around upright instead of on all fours, mascot head bobbling around as it mauls hapless bystanders, but otherwise its performance is exactly as fierce as it needs to be to approximate the terror of an unjustly confined animal desperate for escape. When you look at other people in giant fluffy costumes getting stuck in just about anything you can think of, well, the Bear Actor looks positively graceful—the true image of a ferocious predator, captured by an actor par excellence.
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