It is a known fact that actors and actresses are often asked to change their weight for a film role. Sadly, many actresses are told to lose weight, even if they are comfortable with their body. In other circumstances, people have to lose weight because they are playing a character who is sick. In order to more accurately portray that character, an actor or actress will take on an extreme diet to lose weight quickly. But extreme diets aren’t just for losing weight.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are actors and actresses who’ve had to gain weight to play a character! Henry Cavill isn’t at Superman’s weight all year round. That takes a lot of work and dedication! And then some actors will go to both extremes in a year, which honestly just sounds unhealthy. Matthew McConaughey and Hugh Jackman have both lost weight for a role, then turned around to gain a bunch of weight for a different character within the same year. We’re not sure we could do it — no matter how much they were paying us!
16. Christian Bale
Movie: The Machinist
Christian Bale is the king of fluctuating his weight for a role. For The Machinist, Christian played Trevor Reznik, a machinist with severe insomnia. Because Trevor can’t sleep in the film, this led to severe weight loss and Trevor Reznik becomes extremely thin. Christian dropped from 173 pounds to 110 pounds for filming. To manipulate this extreme 63-pound weight loss, for four months, he ate a can of tuna fish and/or an apple a day. That was it. Definitely not a diet that any nutritionist would ever recommend! On the other side of it, Christian Bale then went on to beef up in weight to portray Batman/Bruce Wayne in 2005’s Batman Begins.
15. Anne Hathaway
Movie: Les Misérables
To portray Fantine, a woman who loses her job but needs to support her daughter, Anne Hathaway had to adopt an extreme diet. Fantine becomes a prostitute, sells her hair, and teeth and, in the film, she eventually dies from tuberculosis. In order to look like a dying woman, Anne practically starved herself and dropped 25 pounds in one month. She ate only oatmeal paste for two weeks toward the end of her diet. She would not promote this diet to anyone, saying that, “I don’t recommend [it]. . . . You can be too thin.” Yeah, that’s scary.
14. 50 Cent
Movie: All Things Fall Apart
In order to portray a friend of his that died from cancer, 50 Cent went to extremes to lose 54 pounds in nine weeks. To drop the weight, he went on a liquid diet and ran on the treadmill for three hours a day. He’d previously gone on a liquid diet when he was shot in the face in 2000, but he found this diet much more challenging. “I had to discipline myself not … to actually have myself be in the physical state to convey the energy I felt. It’s a passion project for me,” he said speaking with the Associated Press while making the film. When the weight started flying off, 50 Cent’s manager told him that he needed to get to a doctor ASAP, but he was so concerned with looking right for the part.
13. Hugh Jackman
Movie: Les Misérables
Hugh Jackman is another man who is known for manipulating his weight all for his work. In Les Misérables, Hugh played Jean Valjean, a man who goes from being a prisoner to the mayor of a town to a man on the run with his adoptive daughter. At the beginning of the film, when he is a prisoner being released, he needed to look gaunt. To achieve that look, Hugh lost 25 pounds. To lose the first 20 pounds, he’d gone a very lean and strict diet, while exercising. For the remaining five pounds, Hugh went through a 36-hour period where he didn’t eat or drink anything. He said about this diet, “I realized the sacrifices had been worth it, that the headaches, dizziness — and the grumpiness — had been a relatively small price to pay.” He was nominated for an Oscar, so it seems it paid off for him.
12. Matthew McConaughey
Movie: Dallas Buyers Club
Speaking of extreme weight loss for Oscar-worthy roles, Matthew McConaughey won the Acamedy Award for Best Actor with his work playing a man diagnosed with AIDS and given 30 days to live. He lost 40 pounds before the five-week filming period began. Speaking with Hitflix while filming Dallas Buyers Club, Matthew said, “I’m doing cardio but I’ll tell you what, the more I’ve learned is — and I think it comes with age too — is it’s 90 percent diet. It’s 90 percent amount and then what you’re eating because right now I’m not losing any more weight if I burn 1,500 calories, two hours of cardio in an afternoon, or if I don’t. It doesn’t matter. It’s a matter of how much I eat or how little I eat.”
11. Jared Leto
Movie: Dallas Buyers Club
Much like Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto dropped a lot of weight for his role in Dallas Buyers Club. In order to look frail as Rayon, an HIV-positive trans woman struggling with addiction, Jared reportedly stopped eating altogether which obviously is a bit extreme. Jared lost 30 pounds for his work and he won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars that year. Jared admitted to EOnline.com, “I got down to 116 or something. I just basically didn’t eat. I ate very little. I had done similar things with weight, but this was different, I think the role demanded that commitment.” Jared Leto is known for his method acting and he used not eating as a way to understand his character better. He said that if he ran into friends and family that didn’t know what project he was working on, they thought he was sick.
10. Ashton Kutcher
To portray Steve Jobs for the movie Jobs, Ashton Kutcher went method. In order to portray the co-founder of Apple Inc., Ashton adopted the fruitarian diet for a month. The diet, based solely on fruit, helped Ashton lose almost 20 pounds but it turned out to have negative effects on his health. He told reporters at the Sundance Film Festival, “I ended up in the hospital two days before we started shooting the movie. I was doubled over in pain, and my pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which was terrifying, considering everything.” Steve Jobs died in 2011 from pancreatic cancer, so when he says “considering everything,” that’s what he’s talking about.
9. Donnie Wahlberg
Movie: The Sixth Sense
Long before he was on Blue Bloods, but shortly after his time in New Kids on the Block, Donnie Wahlberg ventured into acting. In one of his earlier roles, Donnie played a patient of Bruce Willis‘s in The Sixth Sense. The role was originally meant for a 13-year-old boy until Donnie met with the film’s director M. Night Shyamalan. In order to portray the character, who calls himself a freak when confronting his therapist, Donnie lost 43 pounds. It paid off for the film and his character wound up being a standout in the film. If you remember the ending of The Sixth Sense, you’ll know why.
8. Hugh Jackman
Movie: Every X-Men movie he portrayed Wolverine
Over the course of 17 years, Hugh Jackman has portrayed X-Men superhero Wolverine eight times (though one of those was a very brief cameo). Over the years, Wolverine has only gotten more jacked, meaning that Hugh has worked with his team to create the perfect diet and workout regimen for the character. His diet consisted of steamed chicken and vegetables, no salt. When in prime Wolverine shape, Hugh is reported to weigh around 200 pounds, with a predominant amount of that weight coming from his muscles. A part of his Wolverine diet also consists of intermittent fasting, where a person fasts for 16 hours, then eats during an eight hour period. Hugh Jackman’s workouts can begin as early as 4 A.M. and last for up to three hours.
7. Chris Hemsworth
Movie: In The Heart of the Sea
Chris Hemsworth had to lose weight for his role in In The Heart of the Sea, where he played a crewman who was left adrift in the ocean after their boat is attacked by a whale. In order to lose 33 pounds in four weeks, he ate a mere 500 calories a day. Chris admitted to Good Morning America that not only did the diet affect his body, it also affected his mind. He said, “The gaining is fine, you just eat a lot and you lift weights but that was underfed, which led to a pretty moody existence and inconsistent emotions.” He ate boiled eggs, salads, and not much else. Although the diet played on his emotions, Chris Hemsworth also said it helped him better capture the essence of his character.
6. Lily James
Now, we can’t be sure if Emma Watson threw direct shade at Lily James, but when she filmed Beauty and the Beast, Emma said she refused to wear a corset. Unlike Emma, Lily did wear a corset to portray a Disney princess. In order to fit into the tiny corset to give the illusion of a very small waist as Cinderella, Lily went on a cleanse. When filming, she didn’t have time to eat, or if she did eat, food wouldn’t digest properly while she wore the corset. It was a 20-minute process just to take the corset off, so it wasn’t an option during filming, as it would have been too long a break. So, Lily had to go on a liquid diet while filming. She told E! News, “I’d have soup, so that I could still eat but it wouldn’t get stuck.”
5. Charlize Theron
Like some of the people on this list, Charlize Theron didn’t need to lose weight for a character, she had to gain weight! In order to portray serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, in Monster, Charlize gained 30 pounds. She has said that diet is a loose term for what she did, but to gain the weight, she ate donuts and potato chips. She has said that her goal for Monster wasn’t “getting fat,” as she said Aileen wasn’t fat, but instead the focus was on cutting loose. She changed her lifestyle in order to get closer to Aileen’s and to get better aligned with the character.
4. Andrew Garfield
Since his days of portraying Spider-Man on screen, Andrew Garfield has gotten into more method acting. Andrew lost 40 pounds to play a Jesuit missionary during the 17th century in Silence. He felt the weight loss was a way to connect with his character, rather than seeing it as a burden. He talked to People about the diet, saying, “It was really great to know that experience of fasting, starvation, it was really an amazing opportunity to know that. What it revealed to me, because not only were we in this losing weight and trying to – just because the reality of the characters is such, there’s no food on the island and the villagers are rationed anyway and eat even less than we do. Even on the journey over to Macau it would have been rife with dysentery and all kinds of sickness and hardly any food, so that hunger was really important.”
3. Jeffrey Dean Morgan
TV Show: Texas Rising
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is willing to go to some extremes for his work. When producers for Texas Rising told him to lose 10 pounds for the role, he took it to heart. His character, “Deaf” Smith was sick from consumption of tuberculosis. When he got on set, he weighed about 175 and he said by the end of filming, he was around 130 pounds. In order to lose the weight, he went on an unhealthy crash diet. He ate just a can of tuna a day. He admitted to Today it wasn’t the best idea, he said, “I did it in the most unhealthy way possible… I didn’t consult with a doctor or anything. We had said maybe we should lose, like, ten pounds, and I just kept going and going, and by the end of the movie, I was just [moving] like a snail!”
2. Henry Cavill
Movie: Man of Steel
Another superhero diet, Henry Cavill‘s insane body for Man of Steel came with a lot of work. Henry was already in great shape before his first time portraying Superman, but to look like the hero, he went on a daily 5,000 calorie diet. He didn’t start eating five McDonald’s meals a day though, all of his meals were made in the kitchen and packed with protein and nutrients. Unlike Hugh Jackman, Henry Cavill’s diet did not consist of bland foods. His diet still had flavor packed in every bite! His workouts were very “shoulder-centric,” which everyone can see the results of from photos of him on set. Dayum.
1. Mila Kunis
Movie: Black Swan
Not only did Mila Kunis have to become a ballerina for her role in Black Swan, she also had to lose a ton of weight — and she was already super skinny to begin with! Many people focused on Natalie Portman‘s weight loss for the 2010 film, but Mila dropped down to 95 pounds for her character portrayal. She had a 1,200 calorie daily intake and smoked cigarettes to curb her appetite and lose the weight. Mila told Entertainment Tonight, “I never watched what I ate [before]. It was one of those things, for the first time in my life, I got a food delivery service. And I’ll tell you this — I’m not promoting this at all — but I used to be a smoker, and so I smoked a lot of cigarettes and I ate a limited amount of calories.” She was adamant when speaking with Howard Stern that year that she didn’t starve herself, but still wouldn’t promote the diet she had done for Black Swan.