Being an actor is not an easy task as many people could think. It requires dedication, hours memorizing the script, hours of rehearsal and above all, commitment. This commitment even entails compromising your own health and figure. Here you will find famous celebrities that underwent incredible body transformations to portray their characters faithfully. Don’t miss #19 and #3!
#30. Tom Hardy – Bronson
To play the role of Charles Bronson, Tom Hardy spent 5 weeks gaining muscle. He had to put weight on, so instead of a balanced diet, his personal trainer —and former US Marine— Patrick Monroe (otherwise known as ‘Pnut’) decided to bulk him up with pizza, Häagen-Dazs and Coca-Cola. About Pnut, Hardy said he was using him as a walking gym.
Photo: Courtesy of Born to Workout.
“Initially Charles Bronson was very disappointed when he saw me. He said “This kid will never be able to play me.’ I just told him, “Don’t worry Charlie I’ll fix it.’”
When the actor came back two weeks later, Bronson was amazed at the change he saw: Tom had gained about 14lbs. Bronson’s sister revealed that Hardy sounded like her brother and even moved like her brother.
#29. Natalie Portman – Black Swan
The gorgeous actress Natalie Portman lost 20lbs to play the role of ballerina Nina Sayers. Her excruciating diet was based on carrots and almonds. Her portrayal of the character made Portman win the Oscar, but she confessed there were times she thought she was going to die.
Photo: Courtesy of GDS Italia and She Said.
Mary Helen Bowers, a professional ballerina, designed the workout routine “Ballet Beautiful” for the actress and it lasted 5 hours a day, 6 days a week. Natalie spent an hour swimming, one hour doing Ballet Beautiful, and about three hours doing ballet work and dancing. She even dislocated a rib when practicing.
“Part of the art is hiding all the pain.” Portman said.
#28. Edward Norton – American History X
In order to play the role of a Californian neo-Nazi named Derek Vinyard, Norton had to develop a lean and muscular physique. His coach, Anthony Krotes, designed a workout routine for him that targeted multiple muscle groups with each repetition, causing a rapid increase in growth. This routine plus a special diet based on chicken, turkey, fish and protein shakes transformed his body from skinny to skinhead in just three months.i don’t
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“I knew this guy was going to have to be really physically fearsome and defined by rage, arming himself against his own emotional pain (…) this body is a manifestation of that.” Commented the actor.
There were rumors that Arnold Schwarzenegger was so impressed by the speed transformation, that he contacted Norton in order to know if he had used steroids.
#27. Colin Farrell – The Lobster
The Irish actor Colin Farrell gained 45 pounds in just two months by eating 4,000 melted calories in meals. He also avoided exercising or even moving at all. In the film, he interprets a man who has been married for 12 years and forgets to pay attention to himself and his appearance. Now, he has 40 days to find a new romantic partner or risk be turned into an animal.
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“It slowed my thought patterns down, it slowed my speech patterns down. For a short period of time, I was inhabiting a body that I’d never inhabited before. So I was really, physically, in a different place than I’d ever been before. I couldn’t imagine David any other way now.” Farrell said about his character.
#26. Emile Hirsch – Into The Wild
In order to personify Chris McCandless, the actor had to lose a total amount of 41 pounds, split into 26 pounds for the first part of the journey and 15 pounds for the Alaskan leg of the film. It was two stages of weight loss.
Photo: Courtesy of Real Movement Project and Fotogramer.
“So it was a lot of running and being very hungry and dreaming of candy all the time. It’s funny because normally, I’m not a big chocolate bar eater. But, that was really what I wanted more than anything when I was at my most hungry.” Confessed Emile.
#25. Ryan Reynolds – Blade: Trinity
For his role as Hannibal King, Reynolds had to gain 25 pounds of muscle. For that purpose, his trainer, Darren Chapman designed a workout routine that lasted three months and entailed working out on a six-day-a-week basis, around 3 hours per day, generally starting off with around 500-1000 sit-ups.
“After the first week I was longing for the sweet release of death, but soon enough got really into it.” Commented the actor.
Photo: Courtesy of Just Go Fitness and Esquire.
After his training for the film, Reynold’s career rocketed and he was offered many roles as a superhero, including Green Lantern and Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and even it helped him to play the leading role in his own film Deadpool. Now, Reynold continues working out hard. Don Saladino, his personal trainer in Deadpool, said that Reynolds really performs many of his stunts in the film. “For him to be able to do that, I need to make sure his body is moving as well as it looks.”
#24. Matthew Fox – Alex Cross
The actor, known for his portrayal of ‘Jack’ in Lost, accepted the role as Picasso in the film Alex Cross with the one condition that he wanted a body transformation which would enable him to be a functioning employee, husband and father. He wanted to build a natural and healthy body, but also menacing and a little psychotic.
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He needed the energy to work, so he received a very balanced and nutritional diet to help him lose weight in a healthy way. He lost 40 pounds.
“My mother hated it,” Fox says with a laugh. “She’s Italian and she’s a fantastic cook and loves to feed her son more than anything. She couldn’t stand it. It really upset her.”
#23. Matthew McConaughey – Gold
Matthew McConaughey gained 47 pounds for his role in Gold, and it became the first time the actor gained weight instead of muscle. His diet was based mostly on cheeseburgers and beer. He was given green light to eat whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted for a period of six months. He stopped exercising. The actor recognized that he even avoided taking the stairs to the second floor.
“I was trying out all these fast food restaurants that I’ve never had.” McConaughey admitted.
Photo: Courtesy of US Magazine.
In his house, his family nicknamed him “Captain Fun” during those six months because he would say ‘yes’ to everything. He was like “No, pizza night’s not just Friday night—it’s Tuesday night; it’s Wednesday morning.” The actor believes they love him more as a fat guy. To lose the weight he gained, he felt back to old standards: just diet and exercise.
#22. Jake Gyllenhaal – Southpaw
For his role in Southpaw, Jake had to prepare both physically and emotionally since there were already many boxing films and the bar was set very high. Regarding his body transformation, he spent around 5-6 months at the gym training 5 hours a day like a real boxer would do. His commitment to the training led his relationship with Alyssa Miller to an end.
Photo: Courtesy of Pop Workouts.
“I was just terrified that I would look like an idiot in the ring. I didn’t know how to box when I started. Therefore, I decided to train twice a day so it would give me an advantage.”
Gyllenhaal proved himself as a very versatile actor. He can gain or either lose weight for his roles and he is ready to go all the way to personify different characters with different body characteristics. Slide to #16 to see him playing a malnourished creepy-looking cameraman in a 2014 film.
#21. Ryan Gosling – The Lovely Bones
The most unfortunate body transformation award goes to Ryan Gosling. In Peter Jackson‘s film, The Lovely Bones, the protagonist is a grieving father whose daughter was killed. The role was offered to Ryan Gosling and he pictured his character as a fat old man, deteriorated by losing his child. For the portrayal, the actor grew a beard and gained 60 pounds. Unfortunately, he forgot to discuss this with the director.
Photo: Courtesy of Yahoo! Entertainment.
When Gosling appeared in the set two days before the shooting started, Jackson was very dissatisfied with the actor’s look and fired him and hired Mark Wahlberg instead. Jackson said he had to fire Ryan because they had different ideas about the character’s appearance. As Gosling put it: “Then I was fat and unemployed.”
#20. Taylor Lautner – Twilight
Before his role in Twilight, Taylor Lautner was 5’10 and a skinny 140-pound teenager. He needed to gain muscles to become a credible and powerful werewolf, and so he did. He bulked up 30 pounds in muscles and now he sports a lean body. Nowadays he is 170-175 pounds.
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Lautner’s trainer, Jordan Yuam, said that the less muscle one has, the easier and quicker it is to gain muscle mass, thus, encouraging many young boys to work out. Sometimes, Lautner was exercising so hard that he began to lose weight.
“If you’re trying to gain lean mass, focus on weight-lifting with the proper technique and the right plan.” Yuam says.
#19. 50 Cent – All Things Fall Apart
Curtis Jackson, otherwise known as 50 Cent, interpreted a football player diagnosed with cancer. The rapper’s normal weight is around 214 pounds. For the film of Director Mario Van Peebles, he lost nearly 60 pounds by starting a liquid diet and walking three hours a day on the treadmill. This punishing workout regime lasted nine long weeks.
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The rapper even underwent an arm tattoo removal to help him in his burgeoning acting career. He decided to do it because he was tired of having to arrive at the set around 4 hours earlier than the other actors to have his tattoos covered up with makeup. He seems to be setting aside ’50 Cent’, the rapper and becoming more and more just ‘Curtis’, the actor. But, don’t worry, his iconic “50-cent tattoo” is still in his back… for now.
#18. Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
For the role of Fantine in Les Miserables, Anne Hathaway lost 25 pounds. There were rumors that she was on a starvation diet, eating less than 500 calories a day. According to her representative, she was eating the calories she needed and in no way less than 500 a day. The actress refused to reveal what her grueling diet was based on.
Photo: Courtesy of The American Barber TV and Vulture.
“I kind of lost my mind doing that movie and it hadn’t come back yet (…) You win an Oscar, and you’re supposed to be happy. I didn’t feel that way. I felt wrong that I was standing there in a gown that costs more than some people are going to see in their lifetime.“ Confessed Hathaway. She opined that it was wrong winning an Oscar for portraying pain.
#17. Jared Leto – Chapter 27
In Chapter 27, Leto plays Mark David Chapman, the deranged fan who assassinated John Lennon. For this role, the actor had to pile up 67 pounds since Chapman’s appearance had so much to do with who he was. As a consequence of his weight gain, Jared was affected by the ‘gout’ disease and his cholesterol went up very rapidly. Doctors wanted to put him on Lipitor —which is meant for much older people. However, he said that if he was to personify Chapman, he had to experience at first hand how it was to be in his skin.
Photo: Courtesy of Cultura Colectiva.
“The script didn’t say, ‘Page 1: You gain 67 pounds, and you’re miserable for two months’ but in the end I wanted to explore a specimen embodying the total failure of humanity.” Explained the actor.
Even if he didn’t spend a long time recovering his previous weight, mostly by going on tour with his band 30 Seconds to Mars, Leto vowed he would not pack any more calories for a movie again because he does not want to put his health in jeopardy.
#16. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
In Dan Gilroy‘s film, the actor personifies a creepy-looking paparazzo named Lou Bloom who crawls the night to find candid news to capture with his camera. About his character, Gyllenhaal said he saw Lou as a “Human coyote”, always hungry. Gilroy explained that it was mostly Jake’s idea to lose 25-30 pounds in order to portray this hunger and ambition, both, physically and figuratively.
Photo: Courtesy of Page Six.
“Jake intuitively understood and I think it comes through on the screen when you watch it, there’s a very strange energy that emanates I would say from him, but it seems to come from his eyes. Where he’s not just hungry for food because every frame that you watch Jake Gyllenhaal in this film, he’s literally starving. Literally.” Commented the director.
#15. Charlize Theron – Monster
The beautiful actress underwent a big transformation to portray Aileen Wuornos, a real-life serial killer and former prostitute who lived in the street on bad weather. Theron was committed to the role and consequently she did not only gain 30 pounds but also wore contact lenses and prosthetic dentures, shaved off her eyebrows and bleached them out, colored her hair —which was repeatedly thinned and fried— and used a lot of makeup to make her skin look aged, blotchy and sun damaged.
Photo: Courtesy of Zeleb.
Far beyond from being impressed with the makeup and the weight, many people were mesmerized by the physical posturing of the actress —the swagger— that was a clear representation of a tough exterior masking Wuornos’s wounded and conflicted interior. Theron’s depiction of Wuornosearned her the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award.
“There’s not enough fat or prosthetics in the world to hide a bad performance, and she is incredible in the movie.” Theron’s co-star, Christina Ricci, told reporters.
#14. Ewan Mcgregor – Fargo
In the series Fargo, the Scottish actor had to put a sheer effort in order to bring into life the two Stussy brothers, Ray (center) and Emmit (right). They couldn’t be more different: Emmit is successful and very wealthy, while Ray is a parole officer who is broken. In performing them, Mcgregor had to make different voices and move in different manners.
Photo: Courtesy of NY Post and SensaCine.
“‘Ewan, you need to put on weight.’ So at that point, I ordered a massive dessert. I started putting on weight from that second onwards.” Commented the actor about the conversation with Showrunner Noah Hawley when talking about Ray’s character.
The actor does not know how much weight he piled up in three months, but he had to buy three new pairs of jeans with a waistband three inches larger than his usual pant size to wear from October to January.
#13. Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy
For his role as Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt dropped more than 60 pounds in six months by working out 5 days a week for 4 hours a day, and by eating 4,000 calories a day.
“He isn’t the client you have to push; he’s the type of client you have to pull down. If you were to walk into the gym when he was training, you would have thought for sure you’ve got a guy getting ready for the NFL Combine.“ Said his personal trainer Duffy Gaver.
Duffy Gaver has trained many other actors to land their roles. Continue to the TOP 10 and you will find out.
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According to Gaver, Pratt spent the first two months body building. Once he had gained enough muscle mass, he added cardio workouts and conditioning circuit routines, like swimming, mountain biking, and weightlifting. The actor wanted more muscle, to be much leaner and fit. His selfie went viral almost immediately: As he was generally a rather chubby boy, his six-pack abs and developed pectorals came as a surprise and became trending topic within hours.
#12. Rooney Mara – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
In order to tackle the role of Lisbeth Salander, the actress had to experience some physical changes, for example, she got her nipple and face pierced, her hair chopped, and her eyebrows dyed. But her appearance wasn’t the only challenge that the actress faced. In fact, she went through emotional and physical challenges to mold her character, such as drinking in excess, starving and even enduring physical violence when recording the movie’s rape scenes.
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Mara remembers a night when director David Fincher told her “go out and get really, really drunk and come in the next morning so we can take pictures of you.” She had to look hostile, antisocial, alienated, and emaciated, and she nailed it. She threw up all night and look terrible the morning after.
#11. Matt Damon – The Informant!
For his role in Steven Soderbergh-directed film The Informant!, Damon had to pile on 30 pounds. He gained all the weight needed for the role with a strict diet of junk food. The actor recognized that it was very easy and very fun undergoing this eating binge because he just dropped the gym and ate everything that caught his eye.
Photo: Courtesy of Story Pick.
“I definitely got doughy. I started eating like crazy and drinking dark beer. Between meals on set, I’d eat a No. 1 Value Meal at McDonald’s and then Doritos on top of it. It was absolute heaven.” Confessed the actor with a bit of nostalgia.
However, Damon said that he had to struggle when it came to getting rid off those extra pounds. He was forced to take up boxing to burn extra calories.
#10. Chris Hemsworth – Thor
To interpret the Asgardian God of Thunder, Hemsworth, like many other actors, resorted to former Navy SEAL Duffy Gaver for the first movie of Thor, and for the rest of the movies, the actor trained with Luke Zocchi. Chris, unlike most of the actors, took this training with such enthusiasm, energy and effort, and with such good results that when you punch his name into Google, “Chris Hemsworth Workout” is the top search suggestion.
Photo: Courtesy of Marca and Eonline.
“We train six days a week for about an hour, but never much over an hour, but we go hard during that time frame. I do train when I’m not playing Thor, but I’m less bulky because I eat less and my workouts are more rounded and less centered around being muscular. I usually put on about 20lb of muscle to play Thor.” Said the actor.
#9. Demi Moore – G.I. Jane
For her transformation into Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil, the first female Navy SEAL, Moore would get up very early in the morning to start exercising at 4 a.m. so she could complete her workout routine before filming started, which included Navy SEAL training such as underwater running, cardio and martial arts. She was trained by the celebrity trainer Gregory Joujon-Roche and by Navy SEAL instructor Stephen Helvenston to help her thinking and behaving like a real SEAL.
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The actress said she enjoyed having her head shaved but the weirdest thing about it was that many people wanted to touch it. “The funniest responses came from my children, who would say to friends, ‘Hey, do you want to come look at my mom’s head?’ as if I were a show-and-tell item.” Demi Moore attempted to contact President Bill Clinton to request assistance from the US Department of Defense in helping with G.I. Jane’s production.
#8. Christian Bale – The Machinist
While preparing for his role as an emaciated insomniac in the film, Bale was on a very strict diet based on one apple, one spring water can of tuna, 2-3 cups of black coffee per day and a lot of water which allowed him to lose around a staggering 63 pounds in 4 months. He also had to take multivitamins to compensate for all the nutrients he was missing. He developed a skeletal body that shocked everybody, even Bale himself.
Photo: Courtesy of The Indian Express.
The actor said that during those months he could barely move and that he spent 10 hours a day reading books. He described that period as a time with “no rollercoaster of emotions”. Before the diet began, Bale made sure to indulge himself with all the food he was going to miss.
“Bye bye those lovely home made pies and cupcakes … and steaks and french fries … I will miss you all very very much!”
#7. Zac Efron – Baywatch
Fitness trainer Patrick Murphy was in charge of transforming Efron’s body for the film in only three months. In order to gain muscles, the actor had to give up junk food and start eating healthier. Of course, he also had to train five or six days a week and, sometimes, twice a day. Murphy trained the actor and he never went through the same exact workout twice, so as to avoid fitness plateaus. Efron was put on a serious weight-training workout, undertook lifeguard training, and had to bike for about 30 miles.
Photo: Courtesy of Extra TV.
Zac stayed away from all highly refined, processed foods. No flour products whatsoever. So he could have quinoa, but not quinoa crackers. He could have brown rice, but not brown-rice pasta. Same with fruit. He could have an apple, but not apple juice. Once a week he was allowed a cheat meal, but mostly it was just veggies, nuts and seeds, and lean proteins.
“The most important thing that I have learned in terms of diet is to keep away from processed foods, and stick to organics as long as I can. I have a firm belief of no eating chemicals and really, really trying to isolate where my food is coming from.” Said the actor.
#6. Michael Fassbender – Hunger
To interpret the role of Bobby Sanders, the real-life prisoner who headed the Second Provisional IRA hunger strike in 1981 and died after 66 days without food, Fassbender underwent a fast of his own that lasted 10 weeks altogether with daily walks, yoga and skiing. For a while, he only ingested a small can of sardines, water, coffee, berries and nuts -around 900 calories a day.
Photo: Courtesy of Fotogramas and El Mundo.
The actor confessed that the nights were hard. He had difficulty sleeping, if he could sleep at all. He described his experience as a “psychological prison because he had to calorie-count and became obsessed with numbers”. He was lonely because seeing friends was a distraction and a temptation, he was cranky and hungry. So, when the film wrapped, the first thing he ate was sushi.
“It was interesting because my body wasn’t used to handling food. But the weight went on really quickly. After two weeks, I was only around 6 pounds behind my normal weight.” Said Michael.
#5. Christian Bale – American Hustle
Bale has undergone many body transformations throughout his career, and David O’ Russell‘s film wasn’t the exception. The actor had to grow a massive belly to play the role of a con man, but it wasn’t the only change that the Dark Knight had to endure. He also had to cut off all his hair in order to interpret a balding man who glues and hairsprays a toupee onto his head. Don’t worry! His wife still fancies him and his daughter finds it amusing slapping her dad in his bald head and belly, and teasing him about it.
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“I thought I was going to lose the weight I gained for American Hustle. I said, two months, flat, that’ll do it, I was 185, and I went up to 228 for it and I’m still working that off! It’s almost six months later. Now, I know that when I was in my early 20s, it would have been two months and that’s it.” Told the actor when promoting the film.
#4. Jonah Hill – Maniac
Jonah Hill has undergone many body transformations, but his most dramatic change is undoubtly for his role in Maniac. He is now a shadow of his former self. The actor used to be overweight since he had to pile up over 40 pounds for his role in War Dogs but now he has a svelte figure thanks to the advice of his 21 Jump Street co-star Channing Tatum.
Photo: Courtesy of Mundo Deportivo.
Jonah now wants to be slim as well as healthy. The desire of being healthy came along with the age. “It’s hard because a lot of people want you to be the guy you were when they met you. I want to mature, literally, in how I treat myself“. Hill could change his image by correcting his eating habits and exercising. As he put it:
“I started physically running instead of emotionally running and also began doing 10 push-ups a day and eventually managed to worked my way up to doing 100 push-ups a day.”
#3. Chris Hemsworth – In The Heart Of The Sea
Chris is known for his well-developed muscles, but in the Ron Howard-directed film inspired by Moby Dick, he had to shed 15 pounds to depict Owen Chase, a starving seaman who had to survive in the Heart of the Sea after a whale hits his boat. Previously to this role, the actor had been already losing pounds for his part in Black Hat, so he had to undergo two consecutive diets that left him with protruding collarbones and visible ribs through his skin, and awarded him the #3 in this podium.
Photo: Courtesy of Story Pick.
“A day’s rations were a boiled egg, a couple of crackers and a celery stick. I was skinnier than ever before, but at least we were losing weight together — the bond we formed was incredible. It reminded me of being on a football team, growing up, where you’d do anything for each other. You don’t often get that on set.” Commented the actor about his co-stars Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw.
#2. Daniel Radcliffe – Jungle
In order to portray the story of real-life adventurer Yosseph “Yossi” Ghinsberg who was left stranded in the Amazon rainforest, the star of the Harry Potter series, Daniel Radcliffe, had to starve himself for two months. The British actor lost about 14 pounds over the course of the shooting since he wanted to recreate the scrawny body of Yossi’s ordeal, in which he lost 35 pounds due to hunger and infection.
Photo: Courtesy of TV2.
“He was starving himself. He didn’t have to. He was pretty thin to begin. But he wanted to feel what I did. He could not be there with a full tummy, eating steak and pretending he was starving in the jungle. He wanted to feel hungry. It was quite admirable to see him starving on one hard boiled egg when there was a chef on site and nice food.“ Said Yossi, who helped on set, about Radcliffe.
#1. Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
The actor and frontman of 30 Seconds to Mars lost nearly 40 pounds to pull off the role of Rayon, a transsexual woman living with AIDS. Such a weight drop had taken a toll on his health: it affected the way he normally moves, sits and even thinks, but also the way people look at him. Some relatives of the actor weren’t aware of the role and thought he was sick when they saw him so gaunt.
Photo: Courtesy of Huffington Post.
“I stopped eating, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. It was 30 or 40 pounds I lost. After a while, I stopped counting. I was drinking a lot of tea, it takes a while for your body to understand that it has to feed off of itself and that you’re not going to give it something else from the outside.” Explained Leto.