Some call it commitment; others consider it insane. Categorize it as you like, but many actors continually demonstrate their willingness to go to extreme measures to provide an accurate physical picture of the characters they portray. Some actors have done multiple body transformations for a movie role. Even though it may not be required by the filmmakers, actors do what they believe they need to do to more fully inhabit a role—in some cases going well beyond the usual physical training or change of hair color.
Here are the top body transformations for a movie role:
15.) Chris Hemsworth – Thor
For this film, Hemsworth gained 20 pounds for his main role in Thor. The actor was able to lay the foundation down for his physique so he could maintain it for his recurring role as Thor.
People wanted his body so much that Google saw a spike in “Chris Hemsworth Workout.”
14.) Chris Pratt – Guardians Of The Galaxy
Chris Pratt was known as the overweight funny guy who lived in the pit on Parks and Recreation. When he landed this movie role, he started going to the gym three to four hours a day.
The funnyman was able to lose 60 pounds in only six months. On top of that, Pratt has been able to keep up off pretty successfully.
13.) Jake Gyllenhaal – Southpaw
Gyllenhaal gained 15 pounds of muscle to play a boxer in this movie. He worked out six hours a day for six months straight!
The actor committed so much to the role that his relationship with Alyssa Miller ended pretty fast.
12.) Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
An amazing part of the movie is seeing this actor losing a ton of weight. McConaughey dropped over 40 pounds for the role.
The movie is based on the true story of an AIDS patient, named Ron Woodroof, who fought the US government to bring unapproved medication to other sufferers.
11.) Natalie Portman – Black Swan
This young actress faced a tough schedule when she signed on to the role as a ballerina in Black Swan. Portman shared that she felt like she was going to die because she lost 20 pounds for the role, eating only carrots and almonds.
She also spent eight hours a day in rehearsals.
10.) Demi Moore – G.I. Jane
Demi Moore has shared that becoming Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil, the first female Navy SEAL, for the movie G.I. Jane was not easy.
There is a Demi Moore workout and diet where she becomes G.I. Jane. It includes Navy SEAL training, with a lot of strength, cardio, and martial arts.
9.) Vincent D’Onofrio – Full Metal Jacket
Before he started filming Stanley Kubrick’s movie, D’Onofrio was a thin, tall athlete with curly dark hair. After signing on to this film, he had to put on 70 pounds and shave his head.
It was a shock to see his transformation.
8.) Emma Stone – Battle Of The Sexes
How did Emma Stone become a tennis icon, Billie Jean King? Well, it took a lot of workouts and protein shakes to get there! Stone had to increase her calorie and fat intake, which helped her put on weight.
She also had to work out five days a week, twice daily, doing a combination lifting and strength training.
7.) Jared Leto – Chapter 27
Jared Leto gained a whopping 66 pounds. He claims he had to gorge and force-feed himself to put on the weight. He even microwaved ice cream and mixed in olive oil and soy sauce before drinking it to make himself more bloated.
The weight gain caused him to have gout-like pain in his feet, and it took more than a year before he felt like he was back to his old self. No surprise he doesn’t plan to gain weight for a role again.
6.) Russell Crowe – Body of Lies
Russell Crowe isn’t afraid to completely reinvent himself for a role and has gained and lost weight several times over the years for his numerous roles.
The most dramatic change occurred in the film. Crow put on 63 pounds of flab for his role in the film, a weight gain that caused his cholesterol levels to spike dangerously high.
5.) Matt Damon – Courage Under Fire
Matt Damon came into his own as a serious actor in 1997, thanks in part to the extreme physical changes he made to portray a veteran addicted to narcotics and plagued by his past. Damon exercised extensively and lost over 40 pounds, shocking director Edward Zwick when he appeared on set for the first time. The actor’s emaciated state had many concerned for his health, but he remained committed.
After shooting completed, he finally went to a doctor, who put him on medication to correct his blood sugar imbalances. Although the effects of his dramatic transformation lasted longer than he thought they would, serious directors started to pay attention to the young actor and his career took off.
4.) Charlize Theron – Monster
Charlize Theron’s portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the 2003 film came as a shock, given that most people associated her with glamour and beauty. Theron didn’t want to simply put on the character like a suit—this was a real person, who should be depicted as the person she was.
To prepare for the role, she gained 30 pounds and appears in the film with minimal makeup, blotchy skin, and stringy hair. Theron didn’t see any other way to get into the character than to live in her body—and considering she won an Oscar for her performance, she must’ve been right.
3.) Rooney Mara – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
When Rooney Mara was cast as Lisbeth Salander, she underwent a dramatic change in appearance. She had much of her hair shaved and the rest dyed black—but changing hair color and length is something actresses do all the time for different roles.
Mara’s physical changes didn’t stop there, though. She got her eyebrows bleached to the point they were nearly invisible, and acquired several new piercings in her nose and ears. By the time the transformation was complete, Mara admitted she barely recognized herself in the mirror.
2.) Robert De Niro – Raging Bull
To portray legendary boxer Jake La Motta in the 1980 film, Robert De Niro essentially set out to become him. Before filming began, De Niro began workouts modeled after those La Motta himself would have done as a fighter. But transforming himself into a lean, mean fighting machine was only half the story—for the latter part of the film, De Niro had to pile on the pounds to depict the bloating, washed-up older La Motta.
During filming, the actor ate virtually everything in sight in a bid to gain weight—and gain weight he did, going from 140 to 215 pounds. Though praised for his brilliant and authentic performance of the boxing legend, De Niro had difficulty losing the weight he gained for the role and struggled with depression as a result.
1.) Christian Bale – The Machinist
Christian Bale went on a diet consisting of coffee, cigarettes and an apple a day. The 6 foot, 2-inch actor dropped nearly 70 pounds over several months—a third of his previous body weight.
Perhaps even more shocking, Bale beefed up in just six weeks after shooting wrapped, building himself back up to his previous weight so he could play the title character in Batman Begins.
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