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Along with Marlon Brando and James Dean, Clift was one of the original method actors in Hollywood; he was one of the first actors to be invited to study in the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan.
He also executed a rare move by not signing a contract after arriving in Hollywood, only doing so after his first two films were a success. This was described as a power differential that would go on to structure the star-studio relationship for the next 40 years.
Clift never physically or emotionally recovered from his car accident. His post-accident career has been referred to as the "longest suicide in Hollywood history" by acting teacher Robert Lewis because of Clift's subsequent abuse of painkillers and alcohol. He began to behave erratically in public, which embarrassed his friends. Nevertheless, Clift continued to work over the next ten years.