The tradition of committing to a role is no stranger to the method actor. Countless actors have sacrificed their own tears, blood, mental sanity, you name it, for a role. At times these methods may seems extreme for the average viewer, but for some, it’s all in the name of art.
Many of these roles have won countless awards including: Oscars, Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and the list goes on. At times these transformations call for a full psychological and emotional endeavour or an extreme physical change. To help show our appreciation and to help introduce you to some of the sickest roles ever witnessed on screen, we’ve compiled a list of the 15 most crazy movie transformations by an actor/actress:
15. Christian Bale – The Machinist
To kickstart our list we’ve chosen Christian Bale in The Machinist. This 2004 flick won many festival awards including three Barcelona Film Awards for its impeccable acting. The most notable of which being Christian Bale’s performance.
The story follows Bale’s character, Trevor, as he goes about life. The only catch is, Trevor hasn’t slept in a year and begins to see characters that may or may not be real. In order to prepare for the role, Christian Bale committed to losing 60 pounds to get that sickly, skeleton look of the anorexic insomniac he was portraying.
By the time The Machinist wrapped filming Bale only weighed 120 pounds at 6 feet tall. Thereafter Bale gained back a whopping 100 pounds in order to play billionaire superhero Batman in the Dark Knight series. That must have been one hell of a workout routine!
14. Renee Zellweger – Bridget Jones’s Diary
Bridget Jones’s Diary is a chick flick classic! The movie owes its success to the lovable and relatable characters it portrays. The book-adapted film stars its main attraction Bridget, played by Renee Zellweger. Bridget Jones is a middle aged women struggling with everyday aspects such as weight gain, promotion in the workplace, and finding “the one.”
The accident-prone Bridget is a hilarious portrayal by Zellweger and is arguably her best role. The overweight Jones was far removed from the actress’s real figure, which is quite slender. Renee Zellweger reportedly gained 30 pounds to accurately play the character not once but twice!
Zellweger isn’t a fan of the body shape her character promotes in the movies so she commonly loses the weight after filming. However, due to sequels being picked up the actress has had to accommodate as well. Most of her weight gain was through poor eating and lack of exercise – I guess that’s a lot better than the opposite.
13. Jared Leto – Dallas Buyer’s Club
When listing off method actors, Jared Leto’s name is bound to come up. The actor, who is notorious for playing outlandish…”interesting” roles, went all in for his role as transgendered business woman, Rayon. Dallas Buyer’s Club centres around two individuals – one cowboy and one transgendered woman – who run an illegal drug company during the 80s Aids epidemic.
Leto’s transformation included waxing every inch of his body, applying artificial nails and lashes, donning a brunette wig, and making various costume changes. Along with the superficial changes, Jared also lost a whopping 30 pounds to portray a skinnier more effeminate figure.
In order to lose weight, Jared, who is vegan, had to participate in fasts; only eating one vegetable serving per meal. Jared also lost his infamous beard – you know the one that makes Jared look suspiciously like Family Guy’s Peter Griffin when he fathers 3 baby birds.
The transformation earned Leto an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Leto also received a Golden Globe, AAFCA award and countless others; which is justified for someone who only ate 500 calories a day to play one character.
12. Shawn and Marlon Wayans – White Chicks
White Chicks gave the world two things: a great laugh and a great source of memes. The comedy staring brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans takes place when two Californian FBI agents go undercover as – you guessed it – two white girls. Oh, and did we mention Shawn and Marlon are two burley black guys? The transformation of the two is beyond hilarious and impressive at that! With the help of an incredible makeup team, litres of acrylic paint, blue contact lenses, blonde wigs and 8 long hours of labour, the Wayan brothers were transformed into Hilton sister look-alikes.
The movie may not have gained critical acclaim, but it did leave a lasting memory for us all. The movie is a comedic classic and was even nice enough to give us some killer Halloween ideas. Even a few celebrities have tried to copy the White Chicks look, but none did it best than Iggy Azalea – naturally, of course.
11. Tom Cruise- Tropic Thunder
Tom Cruise isn’t usually a name associated with method acting, but that doesn’t mean Cruise didn’t go through a massive ascetic transformation in order to play movie business mogul Les Grossman in the 2008 flick Tropic Thunder.
Robert Downey Jr. also went through a massive transformation in the movie changing races, but it was nothing compared to the look and character brought on by Tom Cruise. Cruise, who is famous for playing the action hero role, took up the role as Les Grossman in a comedic change by the actor. Straying from his handsome looks, Cruise went through hours of makeup and wore a fat suit to help him transform into the overweight, yet still cocky movie producer.
When the movie was released, many heard about an appearance to be made by Cruise in the movie – I don’t think anyone was prepared for what they got. Throughout the film Cruise’s character is seen shouting slander through a cellphone at Vietnam rebels which includes the line “f**k your f**king face you f**k. Definitely a different Tom Cruise than what we’re used to seeing.
10. Charlize Theron – The Monster
Straying from the comedic movie comes Charlize Theron‘s epic transformation into male serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster. Theron, who was consider the sexiest woman alive in 2007, took on a transformation that left us doing a double take. It took 30 pounds, rotting prosthetic teeth, blotchy makeup, and bleached eyebrows to take Theron from former model to repulsive psychopath.
At least Theron has an easy diet of junk food to follow, which she admitted to in a 2003 interview when asked how she prepared for the role. Theron explained, “I first began stuffing myself with Krispy Kreme doughnuts, but after a while I got sick of them…I’m a salty girl so I had my secret stash with me of potato chips at all times.”
Charlize Theron earned an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, among various other awards, for her dedication and hard work. It definitely payed off and the world finally got to see Charlize Theron as less of a sex symbol and more of the incredible actress she is.
9. Heath Ledger – Dark Knight Returns
This iconic performance by Heath Ledger has left many of us asking if an actor will ever be able to do justice to the role of the Joker again. The performance took the actor’s life back in 2008 and it’s easy to see how with such a thorough and to-the-point performance – a performance many actors aspire to.
There wasn’t much of a physical transformation in The Dark Knight for Health Ledger (however he did gain some muscle) but rather a true emotional and psychological change was seen. A documentary surrounding the late actor’s life, Too Young to Die, shows a moment with Heath Ledger’s father who shares the actor’s journal he kept while playing the Joker. The dedication showed by the actor was outstanding, with the chilling words “Bye Bye” written across Heath’s last journal entry.
8. Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy
This is a transformation rarely praised, but Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt lost a whopping 60 pounds in 6 months! Pratt was considered to be overweight before taking on the superhero transformation, losing much of his fat and replacing it with muscle. The actor told Men’s Fitness magazine that he did, “three or four hours a day of just consistent, a**-kicking hard work.” The actor’s personal trainer also said they upped Pratt’s calorie intake to 3,000 calories a day, of course those are clean calories. In a small 6 month period the Parks and Recreation star transformed into the comedic kicka**, Peter Quill. Guardians of the Galaxy was a refreshing superhero movie done RIGHT and we have much of that to thank Chris Pratt’s dedication for.
7. Robert De Niro – Taxi Driver
We’d like to ask you to take a few minutes to type Robert De Niro‘s name into Google search… Now do that same search with the term “Taxi Driver” beside it. Mind blown? Yep, that’s Robert De Niro at 33 years old with pale skin and a mohawk. Taxi Driver is a psychological thriller that follows the life of Vietnam War vet Travis Bickle which won much acclaim and many awards in 1976. The character required De Niro to shave his head and wear different wigs, including a mohawk. This performance is dubbed one of the greatest of all time and received many Oscars and notable awards for its unique and captivating plot.
6. Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyer’s Club
None expected the stellar performance we received from Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club, but needless to say we were left impressed. The actor who is usually portrayed as a sex symbol beefcake in most of his films slimmed down significantly to play a homophobic gay cowboy, Ron Woodrof, who contracted AIDS in the 1980s epidemic.
Similar to his costar Jared Leto’s transformation, McConaughey went through an unforgettable transformation. The actor shed 47 pounds of both muscle and fat to get down to a 135 pounds at 6 feet tall. Co-star Jennifer Garner who lost weight for the movie as well (post-baby) said she worked her butt off to lose the weight but her co-stars McConaughey and Leto “just didn’t eat.”
5. Jared Leto – Suicide Squad
Jared Leto takes a piece out of the method actor pie once again! This time covering the character many said was impossibly following Heath Ledger’s death, The Joker. The actor knew he had some huge shoes to fill and took on the job wholeheartedly in Suicide Squad.
The beginning of filming sparked the beginning of the method actor’s strange ways as Leto was reported sending dead animals to co-stars, refusing to speak with the rest of the cast/crew, and demanding various tasks out of the actors playing The Joker’s “henchmen”. In order to comply with The Joker’s twisted ways, Jared Leto thought to send his co-stars some creepy gifts because, “that’s what The Joker would do.”
The Joker is notorious for sending gifts, so when Leto followed suit we were all surprised to hear about the live rat received by Margot Robbie or the dead pig given to Will Smith. This was one of many of Leto’s weird antics while on set, of which director David Ayer gave great praise stating, “he’s [always] in character and when he shows up here he’s in character… when he’s in his trailer, he’s in character…He emails me, he’s in character. Like, whoa. He’s a little f–king scary”. Which is why it left many of us comic fans wondering, why were so many of his scenes cut? Whatever the reason, the little screen time Leto did earn was enough to leave fans wanting more.
4. Natalie Portman – Black Swan
The dark thriller Black Swan, directed by the twisted king himself, Darren Aronofsky, depicts the strict lifestyle of a New York ballerina suffering from delusions. A ballerina’s structure is very hard to manipulate on film so Natalie Portman had to do her best to replicate the athletic look.
Portman, who does have a small frame to begin with (she’s only 5’4″ after all), lost 20 pounds on her frame to play the part. Along with the weight loss, Portman trained in ballet, along with swimming, cross training, and endurance for up to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. Portman’s dedication to her performance won her an Oscar for Best Leading Actress after years of hand work on films like V for Vendetta and StarWars.
3. 50 Cent – All Things Fall Apart
Didn’t think you’d see the “Candy Shop” hit maker on this list, did ya? Well, 50 Cent aka Curtis Jackson traded his rhyming chops in for some emotional on-screen time portraying cancer stricken Deon in All Things Fall Apart.
As a cancer patient, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson couldn’t be walking around with his 215 pound beefy structure. To help portray an authentic performance of a deathly sick footballer, Jackson went on a nine-week liquid diet, accompanied by three hours on the treadmill a day. This resulted in the loss of Jackson’s muscular frame along with 40 pounds.
The movie was claimed to be a flop by critics but the hard work put forth by 50 Cent is undeniably remarkable. No one expected such a transformation from the mouthy rapper and perhaps we can see him fulfill his acting dream again, perhaps with a less cliche storyline next time.
2. Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry
Hilary Swank is a remarkable actress, her two Oscars and Golden Globes would prove that. She is a dedicated artist who has been in many famous film adaptations such as the chick-flick tearjerker P.S. I Love You, the feminist icon flick Amelia, and boxing movie Million Dollar Baby. Yet, it will always be her performance of Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry that remains her claim to fame.
The movie involved the transformation of Brandon Teena, a confused female who adopts a male identity in order to finally find peace and love in his life. The movie, which was released in 1999, sparked many controversies for its portrayal of a transgendered individual; however Swank’s performance still out won such critics.
Swank’s transformation was both physical and emotional as she dove head first into the role. Hilary Swank played a 90210 babe right before scoring the role of Brandon and remarked that the transformation really showed how uncomfortable one can become with the transgendered community. In a 2000 interview Swank told EW, “If you don’t fit into a black-or-white definition of boy or girl you slip between the cracks and it’s a lonely place.” The movie won 47 awards including Hilary Swank’s first Oscar for Best Leading Actress.
1. Johnny Depp – Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp has had many on-screen transformations including the roles of Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow and Officer Tom Hanson in 21 Jump Street, but it’s his transformation into the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland that left us wondering, are we sure that’s him?
The actor didn’t go psycho for the role (even though the character could drive one to madness) but he did undergo hours of makeup and prosthetics to achieve the Wonderland look. The look includes bright orange hair (a wig), vibrant green contacts, pale grey skin, purple lips, and a very important hat!
The look was carefully designed by the Alice in Wonderland makeup team according to the character’s description in the book, which includes discoloration due to mercury poisoning, an array of colours to represent different moods, and prosthetics to look a little extra creepy. This character definitely shows the hard work of not only the actor, but also the makeup team constructing their character.