Method Actor Jeremy Strong Begged Aaron Sorkin to Tear-Gas Him on Set of ‘Chicago 7’

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Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming Netflix drama “The Trial of the Chicago 7” boasts one of this year’s most impressive casts, including Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Frank Langella, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But also among the ensemble, and re-teaming with Sorkin for the first time since 2017’s “Molly’s Game,” is “Succession” star Jeremy Strong. The film chronicles how the peaceful protest outside the 1968 Democratic Convention unraveled into a fatal clash with police officers and the National Guard. According to a Vanity Fair first look at the movie, coming to Netflix on October 16, Strong was a die-hard method actor while on set, going to extremes to let the riotous atmosphere of the period seep into him.

According to Sorkin, while filming riot scenes on location in Chicago’s Grant Park, Strong demanded that an ex-cop starring as a storm trooper in the movie throw him to the ground before each take. “Jeremy begged me to spray him with real tear gas,” said Sorkin, who declined to do so. A contender for this year’s Emmys for “Succession,” Strong plays civil rights activist Jerry Rubin in the film, seen in the first look in tie-dye and a headband, smoking pot. Rubin was cofounder of the Youth International Party, or Yippies, a radical offshoot of the antiwar movements of the 1960s.

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Strong’s no-holds-barred method acting might be best explained by the fact that he served as Daniel Day-Lewis’s assistant on the 2005 film “The Ballad of Jack and Rose,” and Day-Lewis is notorious for his deep immersion into his roles.

Such immersion also carried over to the set of “Succession.” “Jeremy is interesting. He works in a specific kind of way, it’s a method way of working, and I totally respect,” “Succession” co-star Brian Cox told IndieWire in June. “It’s completely the antithesis to the way I work. But in a way, I find it quite good, because I think it puts you on your metal, because you’re dealing with someone who really inhabits the fragility almost in a way that is…you worry about him sometimes. He is so committed as an actor. Jeremy’s commitment is undeniable, and his results are equally undeniable. That’s what the key thing is, is the results, his performance, which was pretty magnificent, actually. It’s a pretty magnificent piece of work.”

The cast of “The Trial of the Chicago 7” also includes Mark Rylance, John Carroll Lynch, Ben Shenkman, and Danny Flaherty. It’s one of many Netflix Oscar contenders this fall, and dropping just ahead of the election on November 3. The streamer bought Sorkin’s film from Paramount for a reported $56 million, and it’s going to be a formidable presence on the awards circuit this fall if Sacha Baron Cohen’s words in the Vanity Fair profile are any indication: “[Sorkin is] as talented as Shakespeare. And a lot more consistent,” Cohen said. “He hasn’t had a ‘Titus Andronicus.’” At one point before Sorkin, Paul Greengrass was in talks to direct.

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