When it comes to Hollywood stars, we just think about all the money and the glamour, but acting can actually be a very difficult profession in many different ways. The actors had relatively short filming days, but intense periods of ultra-long preparation days. They often have to learn new skills, such as learning a language or playing an instrument, as well as go through significant physical changes in order to make their roles realistic.
Though many filmmakers often use fat suits and prosthetics in their films, there are still many actors who are willing to gain or drop a couple of dozen pounds or hit the gym ultra-hard for a role. Moreover, some of them decided to start an intense tanning regimen, grow full beards or shave their heads bald to deliver their best performances. However, it’s actually unhealthy, and regardless of how much we like a certain movie, it’s difficult to understand why some stars would put their physical and maybe even mental health in danger for a role.
Here is a list of actors who worked hard months before the filming began and left their mark on cinema forever with their remarkable physical changes!
#1 Emma Stone “Battle of the Sexes”
Source: Battle of the Sexes
Emma Stone put on 15 pounds for the part of tennis icon Billie Jean King in “Battle of the Sexes” because she wanted to look like a strong athlete. Stone worked out with heavy weights and consume hundreds of calories every day. Walsh told People: “She was ecstatic when she got on (the scale). Most girls who get on the scale and gain weight freak out, (but) she had the biggest smile in the world when the weight started to increase.”
#2 Matthew McConaughey, “Gold”
When it comes to undergoing physical transformations for film roles, Matthew McConaughey is an expert. In the movie “Gold,” he is hardly recognizable because he gained 45 pounds. To portray well businessman Kenny Wells, who strikes gold in Indonesia, the actor had eaten a lot of cheeseburgers and beer for eight months. “I was getting pretty damn fat as Kenny Wells,” McConaughey said. “I was an all-star in my family, nicknamed Captain Fun during that time because I was yes to pizza night, every night and it was cheeseburgers and beer.”
#3 Vanessa Hudgens, “Gimme Shelter”
Source: Gimme Shelter
Vanessa Hudgens had to gain up to 15 pounds for her part as a homeless, pregnant teenager in “Gimme Shelter”. She said “It’s not hard to put on weight in France when you’re eating all the good French food. It was the easiest and most amazing thing ever.” After the filming was finished, Vanessa acknowledged that she didn’t feel comfortable with the added weight and didn’t recognize herself.
#4 Tom Hardy, “The Dark Knight Rises”
Source: The Dark Knight Rises
In the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy “The Dark Knight Rises,” Hardy portrays the antagonist Bane. Bane had a very difficult childhood that later makes him a terrorist, which forces Batman out of retirement to stop him. The film grossed over $1 billion at the box office, ranking it among the highest-grossing films of all time. For this role, Hardy Hardy weighed more than 40 pounds, spoke in a tone of voice, and wore a face-covering, making him unrecognizable to fans. Tom Hardy’s performance in this movie had a lot to live up to and the film trilogy ends the story on a satisfactory note. It’s a true compliment to Hardy that Nolan has cast him in significant roles in several of the movies he’s directed.
#5 Russell Crowe, “Body of Lies”
Source: Body of Lies
Russell Crowe gained 63 pounds for his role as a CIA operative in the 2008 film “Body of Lies,” by eating a lot of cheeseburgers and cupcakes. He told Access Hollywood: “It just felt right for the character and it’s what Ridley [Scott] wanted as well”. He wanted Ed as a former football player whose injured knees prevented him from training anymore or something like that. “If you want to put on weight, you just elect to live a sedentary lifestyle. Just as soon as you stop actually being active and decide to eat whatever you want, then these two things will combine very quickly.”
#6 Robert De Niro, “Raging Bull”
Source: Raging Bull
Robert De Niro won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of boxer Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull,” but the movie was the hardest one to prepare for since he had to gain so much weight for just one scene. During gained 60lbs to play LaMotta in his latter years in a nightclub scene. Martin Scorsese, the director, said De Niro’s breathing sounded like his after an asthma attack.
#7 Rob McElhenney, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”
McElhenney, the creator and star of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” put on 60 pounds to portray “Fat Mac”. He talks about his weight gain menu in a podcast: “I read that cottage cheese metabolizes really slowly in your stomach. If you eat cottage cheese, the last thing you want to do is eat it right before you go to bed because it metabolizes so slowly….So, I started eating cottage cheese in the middle of the night. I would wake up at 2 a.m. and I would eat cottage cheese. And then one week later after that, I came in on a Monday, and for whatever reason, it was like I popped. . . . I went from about 160 to 220.”
#8 Jared Leto, “Chapter 27”
Source: Chapter 27
For his role as John Lennon’s assassin, Mark David Chapman, in “Chapter 27”, Jared Leto put on more than 30 kilograms. Pizza, pasta, and melting Haagen-Dazs ice cream blended with soy sauce and olive oil made up the bulk of his diet. After the movie, he got gout. “Towards the end of the shoot, one of the glaring issues was the pain I had with my feet,” he revealed after the film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2007. “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.”
#9 Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Source: American Sniper
Bradley Cooper won an Oscar nomination for his role of Chris Kyle in “American Sniper”. It’s the result of his performance and his appearance that he needed to gain 40lbs. The actor told Men’s Health: “I had to get to the point where I believed I was him. At 185 pounds, it would’ve been a joke. His size was such a part of who he was … Chris wasn’t ripped. He wasn’t sinewy. He was just a bear.”
#10 Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Source: American Hustle
In 2013’s “American Hustle”, Christian Bale put on 43 pounds for his role as Irving Rosenfeld, which was based on the infamous American con artist Melvin Weinberg. In order to replicate Weinberg’s comb-over, Bale also shaved part of his head. Due to his decision to give his character a slouched posture, Bale’s real-life height was reduced by three inches. The actor also caused himself a herniated disc in his back.
#11 Hilary Swank, “Million Dollar Baby”
Source: Million Dollar Baby
Hilary Swank had to gain 19lbs of pure muscle to play a boxer in her Oscar-winning film “Million Dollar Baby”. Swank told The Hollywood Reporter: “I had to eat 210 grams of protein a day. I had to eat 60 egg whites in a day, and I couldn’t. So every morning I would drink them. She continued “The thing was, I needed nine hours of sleep a night because your muscles have to be able to rest in order to build or you actually reverse yourself. So I slept nine hours a night but I had to wake up in the night and drink protein shakes because I couldn’t go that long without eating.”
#12 Vincent D’Onofrio, “Full Metal Jacket”
Source: Full Metal Jacket
To play Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence in “Full Metal Jacket”, actor Vincent D’Onofrio put on 70 pounds, setting the record for the most weight an actor has put on for a role. Although the character was originally created as a “skinny redneck,” the filmmaker, thought Leonard would have a greater effect if he were heavier. D’Onofrio needed surgery after sustaining a knee injury while filming as a result of a fall during an obstacle course sequence and the gained weight.
#13 Charlize Theron, ‘Monster’
Charlize Theron completely transformed both herself and her physique to play real-life serial murderer Aileen Wuornos in the film. Theron altered her diet to gain more than 13kg. The actress said that for her, the transformation involved more than simply putting on weight; was about letting go of her regular strict regimen in order to fit the part. It was clearly deserved as Theron received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her efforts.
#14 Ewan McGregor, “Fargo”
In the third season of “Fargo,” Ewan McGregor performed the dual parts of brothers Ray and Emmit, and to play the larger brother in a scene where Ray comes out of a bathtub, he had to put on weight. The actor said in an interview: “I ordered a massive dessert and started putting on weight from that second onward. From October until January, when we started filming, I just started eating whatever I wanted. I made sure that I had carbs with everything and French fries with everything. I didn’t have any technique other than eating a lot. I think if you spoke to a dietician, I probably did it all wrong.”
#15 Mark Wahlberg, “Father Stu”
Source: Father Stu
To play a boxer turned priest in his upcoming movie, “Father Stu”, Mark Wahlberg gave up the gym and ate 7,000 calories per day. His diet included at least a dozen eggs, steak, a half-roast chicken, and a “nightcap” of oatmeal, apple sauce, jam, almond butter, and molasses before bed. Wahlberg intended to add 30 pounds for the role, but within weeks of posting about his weight gain on Instagram, he had already shed the excess weight and was back to working out.
#16 George Clooney, “Syriana”
For his role as a CIA spy in “Syriana,” George Clooney had spent just one month putting on 30 pounds. It was totally miserable time for him. He said of the rapid challenge: “People always think, ‘Oh, that’ll be fun,’ but it’s like going to a pie-eating contest every day. “I was miserable, because there I was in Italy, and I wasn’t looking forward to eating. Who doesn’t look forward to eating in Italy?”
#17 Mark Ruffalo, “I Know This Much Is True”
Source: I Know This Much Is True
Mark Ruffalo received praise for his dual performance in the miniseries “I Know This Much Is True,” in which he played identical twin brothers, one of whom had schizophrenia. The actor gained 30 pounds over the course of six weeks between shots because he didn’t want to use prosthetics to play Thomas. He said: “We didn’t want it to be like I run and throw a wig on and do the same scene in the same day, so we took six weeks off to really separate these two guys. And Thomas is on medication, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics. A lot of people put on weight”.
#18 Ryan Reynolds, “Blade: Trinity”
Source: Blade: Trinity
Ryan Reynolds had to undergo a three-month transformation for “Blade: Trinity,” with six days a week of exercise and a 3,200-calorie diet. With all of that effort, Reynolds put on 25 pounds of muscle, and since then, he has been famous for his jacked physique, which he maintained for roles in “The Green Lantern” and “Deadpool.”
#19 Renee Zellweger, “Bridget Jones’ Diary”
Source: Bridget Jones’ Diary
Bridget Jones gained around 30lbs to play Bridget in the first film “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and its sequel “The Edge of Reason”. Zellweger told Vogue: “I put on a few pounds. I also put on some breasts and a baby bump.” “Bridget is a perfectly normal weight and I’ve never understood why it matters so much. No male actor would get such scrutiny if he did the same thing for a role.”
#20 Christian Bale, “Vice”
When he played Dick Cheney in 2018’s “Vice”, Bale decided to try the weight increase and loss again. He put on 40 pounds and changed into the former vice president with the help of prosthetics and makeup. He told Press Association: “Everything hurts now, I’ve got to really start thinking about if I can manage this again and the answer is probably no.”
#21 Matt Damon, “The Informant!”
Source: The Informant!
To portray an executive who exposes a price-fixing scam while covering up his own extortion, Matt Damon put on 30 pounds. He said about his preparation for the movie’s launch at the Venice Film Festival. “It was very, very easy to gain the weight. It was very, very fun, probably the funnest time I had working, because I didn’t have to go to the gym after work and I just ate everything I could see.”
#22 Ryan Gosling, “Blue Valentine”
Source: Blue Valentine
Ryan Gosling had eaten ice-creams to gain weight for his role in “The Lovely Bones”. Both he and his co-star Michelle Williams gained weight to make the film about the dissolution of a couple’s marriage more realistic. They competed to see who could gain more weight. And Williams was the winner. Director Derek Cianfrance said: “She ended up winning. She gained about 15, 16 pounds. He gained 14.”