If you were lucky enough to see Christian Bale on the street, after getting over your celebrity shock, you'd probably think he's a pretty normal, average-looking guy. But when it comes to taking on a role, this accomplished actor isn't afraid to radically transform himself, whether it means getting bigger...or getting perilously thin.
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To prepare for his role in The Machinist, Christian Bale dropped down to 120 pounds by eating only apples and tuna. The following year, he had to pack on muscle mass for Batman Begins. A few years later, Bale gained 43 pounds for American Hustle, doing so by eating cheeseburgers and donuts.
Not to objectify her or anything, but there's no denying that Charlize Theron is a gorgeous woman in addition to being a fantastic actress. But when it came to her iconic, Oscar-winning role, she dropped the pretty face for something a bit more...monstrous.
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Few actor transformations are as noticeable as Charlize Theron’s in Monster. In order to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Theron put on 30 pounds, wore dentures, and caked on makeup. She was also airbrushed with translucent tattoo ink to make her skin appear sun damaged.
Renne Zellweger has had a consistently strong acting career, but her weight has seen some drastic ups and downs as she prepared for various roles.
Zellweger had to gain 25 pounds to play the titular character in Bridget Jones’s Diary, only to be forced to lose the weight (and then some) for her role in Chicago the following year. Soon after, the actress had to gain more weight for Cold Mountain, and then even more for Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason.
Daniel Day-Lewis is well-nown for completely throwing himself into roles. Method acting might be an obnoxious burden for those around the actor, but the extreme technique helped Lewis nail one of the best performances of his career.
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Daniel Day-Lewis is well-nown for completely throwing himself into roles. He spent an entire year learning about our 16th president for Lincoln, speaking and acting the way he thought Abraham Lincoln would. “Without sounding unhinged, I know I’m not Abraham Lincoln. I’m aware of that. But the truth is the entire game is about creating an illusion, and for whatever reason, and mad as it may sound, some part of me can allow myself to believe for a period for time without questioning, and that’s the trick,” he told the The New York Times.
Being forced to gain weight for a role might sound like a daunting task for some actors, but when Matt Damon needed to put on weight quickly he had a plan ready--and a sense of humor about the whole thing!
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Matt Damon had to pack on 30 pounds in order to play the protagonist in The Informant, but he had a great sense of humor about the transformation. "At my age, all I had to do to gain weight was eat the way I did when I was in college and the weight went on instantly," he said in an interview with the Daily News.
Natalie Portman is already a small woman, and when she had to drop even more weight for an iconic role, things did not always go smoothly for the accomplished actress.
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Black Swan portrayed a dancer succumbing to mental illness. In order to play the character, the already extremely thin Natalie Portman had to lose 20 pounds. "There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die," Portman told Entertainment Weekly, "It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down."
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro is a big deal, and when it came to one role for this iconic actor, he had to get literally big as well...twice!
For the movie Raging Bull, Robert De Niro put himself through two different drastic changes. De Niro had to buff up in order to play boxer Jake LaMotta, and then he had to put on 60 pounds to display LaMotta’s appearance near the end of his life. For his efforts, De Niro won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Even on a bad day, Jake Gyllenhaal is by no means an out-of-shape-guy. But he took his fitness to a whole new level when preparing for his debut in the ring.
Gyllenhaal went through five months of intense training to portray boxer Billy Hope in the 2015 film Southpaw. When interviewed about how he prepared, Gyllenhaal said it was all about embodying a boxer 100%--"A lot of training. Hard training. Training like a boxer, existing like a boxer, or at least how one can to play a boxer in a movie."
Matthew McConaughey isn't afraid to drop weight for a role, even if it leaves him perilously thin and starving for real food.
When preparing for his role as a man with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey dropped almost 50 pounds with a diet of egg whites, diet coke, and tapioca pudding. The actor wasn't shy about his struggles with the extreme diet, saying, "That was rough. I got down to 143 lbs and I was always hungry, and irritable. My body resembled a baby bird with its mouth open, crying, ‘Feed me, feed me,’ and you realize momma bird ain’t going to feed you. It’s hard."
Bright and beautiful Anne Hathaway had to take a dark and dangerous turn in preparation for her role in a 2012 musical.
As she prepared for her role of Fantine in the movie adaptation of Les Miserables had to push her body to the extreme, which including cutting her hair and getting dangerously thin. When reflecting on the experience, she had this to say: "I had to be obsessive about it—the idea was to look near death. Looking back on the whole experience—and I don't judge it in any way—it was definitely a little nuts. It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that's who Fantine is anyway."
Lots of times when actors change their bodies, it's for an important role that ends up winning them major awards and acclaim. But that wasn't the case with poor Ryan Reynolds...
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Ryan Reynolds was able to pack on 25 pounds of muscle to play Hannibal King in the 2004 movie Blade: Trinity by working out six days a week and eating 3,200 calories a day. While Reynolds did gain an impressive six-pack, he would probably rather not have the film on his resume.
Gaining or losing weight isn't the only way that actors have to modify their bodies for roles. Just ask Rooney Mara!
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Rooney Mara’s performance in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was more authentic than you would think. For the role, Mara shaved the side of her head and bleached her eyebrows, as well as piercing her ear cartilage, eyebrows, lips, and nose. The performance earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Let's face it, whether he's preparing for a role or not, Chris Hemsworth is fit as all get-out. But when it came time for him to star in a famous superhero franchise, his fitness seemed to reach a new, unbelievable level.
After he was cast as Thor in the Marvel superhero universe, Hemsworth got serious about his training to be the classic Norse god. The actor began an old-school workout regimen with a genuine Navy SEAL and was able to put on 20 pounds of muscle, much of it in his arms and shoulders. When asked about Hemsworth's success, his trainer, Duffy Garver, had this to say: "It was just red meat, heavy weights and some protein powder. He crushed every single workout. He simply decided to look like Thor."
While many times its male actors that have to buff up for a role, Demi Moore proved that the ladies of Hollywood know how to get ripped too.
In preparation for her lead role in G.I. Jane, Moore experienced a taste of real Navy SEAL training, including 4 am workouts followed by a full day of filming. In addition to her exercise routine, Moore also shaved her head to really embody the character she was playing.
Whether you know him from the big screen or as the lead singer for the band 30 Seconds to Mars, you probably think of Jared Leto as a pretty skinny guy. Well, that all changed in a big way when Leto stepped in front of the camera to play an iconic assassin.
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Playing John Lennon’s killer in Chapter 27 required Jared Leto to gain 67 pounds, which had serious negative effects on his body. "Toward the end of the shoot, one of the glaring issues was the pain I had with my feet," Leto told NY Daily News. "I couldn't walk for long distances; I had a wheelchair because it was so painful. My body was in shock from the amount of weight I gained."