Recently, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won Academy Awards for their roles in Dallas Buyer's Club. To portray the based-on-real-life characters in the film they both lost a significant amount of weight, altering their appearance dramatically. A large part of an actor's job is looking the part, and they often spend a lot of time and effort changing their natural body type in order to embody the character they are playing.
Sometimes actors have to lose weight, and sometimes they have to gain weight, or put on a lot of muscle. Scrutiny over appearance is something celebrities have to deal with on a daily basis, and a lot of the time they are sporting a certain look (like Bradley Cooper's unflattering perm in American Hustle) just because it is part of their job. While actors seem to get a lot of attention for the work they put into their appearance for movies, there are some actresses who have done just as much in order to do justice to their roles. Here are 10 actresses whose commitment to looking the part paid off for them big time.
10 Demi Moore - G.I Jane
At the height of her popularity, Demi Moore took the role of Lieutenant Jordan O'Neil in Ridley Scott's G.I Jane. The role was very physically demanding, as it portrayed a woman who was going through Navy Seal training when women were rarely considered worthy of the Navy. Moore not only adopted a real Navy Seal workout regimen to get her in the physical and mental condition of a true recruit, but she shaved her head on screen during a scene. The fact that Moore shaved her head is probably the most famous thing about the film, considering she ended up winning a Golden Razzie for Worst Actress.
9 Renee Zellweger - Bridget Jones's Diary
It's no secret that Renee Zellweger put on 20 pounds to play the part of Bridget Jones in the film adaptation of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. As soon as she landed the role, she was criticized for being too thin to play the beloved character. But she accepted the challenge of gaining weight and learning a British accent for the part. She then lost the weight to go back to her regular size, only to have to gain it all back again to star in the sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Her hard work paid off though, because she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Bridget Jones.
8 Hilary Swank - Boys Don't Cry
7 Natalie Dormer - Mockingjay
6 Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
The 2007 film, I'm Not There is based on Bob Dylan's life, but none of the actors actually play Bob Dylan. The cast, which includes Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, all play one aspect of Bob Dylan's personality, and a snapshot of his life. Cate Blanchett plays the very first character, a musician named Jude Quinn who ends up dying in a motorcycle accident (a reference to Dylan crashing his motorcycle in 1966). Blanchett was the only woman out of the six actors to portray Dylan, and when asked about the challenge she said, "I just strapped those breasts down, and went for it."
5 Cameron Diaz - Being John Malkovich
4 Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
For her Academy Award-winning role as Fantine in the 2012 film version of Les Miserables, Anne Hathaway had to look the part of a young, poor, prostitute that will do anything to support her daughter. Her character sells her hair (which Hathaway shaved on camera for the scene), and front teeth for money. Hathaway also had to lose a significant amount of weight in order to portray a woman who lives on the street, and has to scrounge for food. The role also earned her a Golden Globe Award, and a SAG award, among many others.
3 Charlize Theron - Monster
2 Natalie Portman - V for Vendetta
If there is one actress that almost looks better with her head shaved, it's Natalie Portman. She shaved her head on screen for her role as Evey in the film adaptation of the graphic novel V for Vendetta. The scene was shot in one take using three cameras from different angles. The film was a financial and critical success, and Natalie even won a Saturn Award for Best Actress. Another film that required Portman to alter her physical appearance was Black Swan. She played a ballet dancer who is obsessed with being perfect, and the role required her to lose 20 pounds from her already tiny frame.
1 Rooney Mara - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Before her role as Lisbeth Salander in the English adaptation of Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara had an innocent girl next door look. She had to transform from that to a dark, goth-inspired, pierced girl with part of her head shaved in order to embody the role. And she did just that. She had her nose and right nipple pierced, her hair dyed black and cut short, and her eyebrows bleached. She wore a fake eyebrow and lip piercing as well as a temporary dragon tattoo. Her transformation went over well with critics, and she ended up being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.