While Hollywood is known for prizing vanity above all, they also put some pretty extreme expectations on their talent if they think the situation requires it. And often, instead of just hiring a performer who is the appropriate size, studios and producers want to hire an already big name and force them to transform into the role, sometimes making them lose or gain up to a third of their own body weight. Sometimes this works out well for everyone in the end, earning actors accolades and rocketing them to the A-list and making their characters some of the most memorable in film history... and sometimes it doesn't.
Some actors have sacrificed a whole lot and wound up with hardly anything in the end. These actors who invested so much and got nothing in return went through the some hellish experiences for no good reason. They completely transformed their bodies for movies that bombed, and got them very little recognition.
15 Jared Leto - Chapter 27
Jared Leto has certainly done his best to sell himself as a tortured, misunderstood artist, but most of the time he seems to be doing all of the torturing to himself. And while his actual acting skills have failed to evolve past the point of Jordan Catalano, he at least commits himself to physically embodying his roles 150%. But long before Leto was trying to convince everyone that he was the scariest, craziest 1990s Hot Topic fan who ever lived in Suicide Squad, he made a little film called Chapter 27. The movie was released in 2007, and it focused on the real life murder of John Lennon at the hands of Mark David Chapman. Jared played the role of Chapman, and packed on nearly 70 pounds for the role. And because he apparently loves to torture himself, he supposedly gained all the weight by drinking melted pints of ice cream mixed with soy sauce and olive oil every night.
14 Christian Bale - The Machinist
Christian Bale is world-renowned for his acting skills and commitment to his roles, and for good reason. American Psycho, The Fighter, American Hustle, Batman: it honestly seems like Bale has a different physique for every movie he makes. His most dramatic transformation, however, has to be for 2004's The Machinist. The 6'0" actor got down to an astounding 121 pounds for the filming of the movie, and he certainly looks it. But despite giving himself the body of a reanimated corpse and despite getting favorable reviews for the performance, The Machinist performed poorly at the box office and has been largely forgotten outside of Bale's insane appearance. And if that whole experience wasn't strenuous enough, Bale followed up The Machinist with his first performance as Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, and had to put on a staggering 100 pounds of muscle to play a believably bada*s Batman.
13 Russell Crowe - Body Of Lies
When people think of Russell Crowe, I doubt the image of a slender stick of a man ever comes into anyone's mind. And despite always looking pretty beefy, Crowe actually gained 63 pounds for Ridley Scott's Body of Lies. In it, Crowe plays a senior level CIA agent who bosses around and occasionally screws over Leonardo DiCaprio, but the necessity of the over 60-pound weight gain is never quite clear. Like, I thought the CIA even had fitness level requirements or something. But either way, Crowe apparently demonstrated his commitment to his role by really packing it on. Unfortunately, it was all for nothing. The movie pulled in a decent box office despite opening far below its predicted numbers, but the obvious awards bait got a mixed response from critics and wasn't actually nominated for any awards. But Crowe's physique and career went on, and his significant weight gain became a pretty small blip on his resumé.
12 Ryan Gosling - The Lovely Bones
Ryan Gosling is another one of those actors who is known for really going above and beyond for a role, so it's no surprise that he was willing to pack on the pounds to play a grieving father in Peter Jackson's film adaptation of the book The Lovely Bones. And pack on the pounds he did. Gosling gained 60 pounds before the movie began filming, mostly by melting ice cream and drinking it straight. The only problem was, Jackson's vision for the character really didn't match Gosling's, and because of the actor's significant weight gain, he was dropped from the movie just a few days before it started filming. The film was given an awards season push, but despite its promotion, the movie failed at the box office and also failed with critics. So while everyone on this list has suffered, I think Gosling earns the prize for going through the most hell for absolutely nothing, because his body transformation actually cost him the (pretty cra*py in the end) job.
11 Matthew Fox - Alex Cross
When I think of intense method actors who completely transform themselves for the sake of a role, Matthew Fox isn't exactly one of the actors who springs to mind. He was alright on Party of Five and a bit better on Lost, but aside from that, his performances haven't been particularly memorable, which is why it is surprising to know he had done a complete transformation for a role. Alex Cross is a crime thriller that was released in 2012, and the title character is actually from a series of James Patterson novels and has also appeared in the movies Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider (both times being played by Morgan Freeman). In this movie, Alex takes center stage and is played by Tyler Perry, with Matthew Fox playing the villain. Although the movie failed to make an impression critically or at the box office, Fox actually lost 40 pounds to play an insanely ripped serial killer whom Alex pursues for most of the movie.
10 Jake Gyllenhaal - Southpaw
Jake Gyllenhaal is certainly a very solid actor, but he wasn't really known for intensely transformative roles up until a few years ago. His starkest and most shocking physical change was probably for Nightcrawler, where he played a sickly thin creep who films gruesome accidents and crimes for a living. Shortly after filming that role, Jake took on the part of Billy Hope in Southpaw, and much like Christian Bale's shocker rebound, Gyllenhaal had to go from uncomfortably thin to ridiculously jacked in a matter of a few months. He certainly pulled it off physically, though. Gyllenhaal absolutely looked the part of a reckless professional boxer going through some really hard times. But unfortunately for the movie, the wannabe prestige picture was more of a soap opera for men than a legitimate awards winner. It didn't make much of an impact at the box office either; it came in 5th place on its opening weekend.
9 Chris Hemsworth - In The Heart Of The Sea
Chris Hemsworth is no stranger to a physical transformation for the sake of a film, given that his most famous role to date is one of a literal god. But for the sake of one of his lesser known films, he dropped 33 pounds over the course of a month to convincingly play a sailor stranded at sea for three months. Hemsworth restricted himself to about 500 calories a day to achieve the rapid weight loss, and said it was a miserable experience. The film was loosely inspired by Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick (well actually, it is based on the real life story that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick), and despite having a stacked cast and being directed by the beloved Ron Howard, the movie was a bomb. It pulled in 93 million dollars at the box office, so it didn't even recoup its 100 million dollar budget, and was poorly received by critics as well.
8 Colin Farrell - Triage
Colin Farrell mostly made a name for himself in the early 2000s as a handsome Irish playboy, but after seeing a string of big budget bombs designed to make him the new Tom Cruise, Farrell started gearing himself more towards meatier roles in smaller movies. In his 2009 film Triage, Farrell plays a photographer who witnesses the Kurdish genocide in Iraq in the late 1980s, and as the film goes on, the trauma of the experience has an extreme effect on him. And unsurprisingly, one of the more apparent physical signs of his trauma is a significant weight loss. Farrell lost a total of 40 pounds for the sake of the movie, eating two cans of tuna a day and turning to soda or coffee for a caffeinated energy boost. His commitment to the role was admirable, but Triage completely failed to make any impact on the film landscape and really has nothing notable about it aside from Colin's body transformation.
7 Ryan Reynolds - Blade Trinity
It seems like in the course of Ryan Reynolds' nearly two decade-long career there have been multiple attempts to really make him a thing. And while there's nothing particularly offensive or dislikable about him, it's kind of surprising that it took him so long to get where he is considering how many shots he's had at pretty major roles. But one of the first big pushes for him as an action star was in Blade: Trinity. Of course no one is expecting Citizen Kane when it comes to a Blade movie, but Trinity was an exceptionally awful instalment of the series (and it essentially brought the series to its end). Reynolds plays one of Blade's sidekicks, a snarky warrior named Hannibal King, and Reynolds got absolutely shredded for the role. He put on 20 pounds of muscle while still cutting down his body fat, which is why his physique is one of the only memorable parts of the movie.
6 50 Cent - All Things Fall Apart
While we all know about 50 Cent, many don't know that he made a sincere attempt at acting. But apparently he did, and he really went full tilt for the 2011 film All Things Fall Apart. In it 50 Cent plays Deon, a football player with cancer, and the rapper-turned-actor lost 54 pounds for the sake of the role. He apparently dropped the weight by sticking to an all liquid diet and running for an absurd 3 hours a day, and said that he felt exceptionally invested in playing the role believably because of a childhood friend who'd had cancer. The dedication to the work is certainly admirable and the personal investment is touching, but in the end it didn't really make much difference; at this point, the only thing that even makes it worth mentioning was 50 Cent's massive weight loss.
5 Matt Damon - The Informant
For most people, gaining weight is significantly easier than losing it, which makes Matt Damon's 30-pound weight gain for The Informant not a particularly impressive entry on the list. However, it is of note because of its pointlessness. Damon may have been hoping for another Courage Under Fire moment, but nothing about the movie or his performance in it made a long term impact on the film community. Hell, it's not even one of the performances you'd think of when someone think of Matt Damon. The dark comedy was generally well received by critics (although it was unusually divisive), but financially it underperformed. The movie recouped its budget, but only made about 40 million dollars worldwide, and its only significant awards nomination was a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. That alone may have made the body change worth it for Damon, but I doubt that it contributed much to the role.
4 Chris Pratt - Zero Dark Thirty
Pretty much everyone in the world who knows who Chris Pratt is knows that he went from a goofy and lovable schlub on Parks and Recreation to a buff and built quasi-superhero in Guardians of the Galaxy. But Pratt actually ditched his Andy Dwyer love handles for another role, one of a Navy SEAL in the political thriller Zero Dark Thirty. And no one could really argue the logic behind that. I mean, you need to be ripped to believably play a Navy SEAL, and Zero Dark Thirty wound up being one of the most critically successful as well as profitable movies of the year, earning more than triple its budget and getting nominated for awards at every major awards show. So clearly, dealing with all of that blood, sweat, and tears was worth it in the end. Or, it would have been worth it if anyone had any idea that Chris Pratt was in Zero Dark Thirty (seriously, this was the only photo I could even find of his body in Zero Dark Thirty).
3 Jason Segel - The Five Year Engagement
Jason Segel isn't really a thick guy to begin with, but for his romantic comedy The Five Year Engagement, the studio demanded that he lose 35 pounds, so that it would look believable that someone like Emily Blunt could be into him, as he jokingly said during an interview with David Letterman. But the move was mystifying for a few reasons. Firstly, Segel, was naturally large enough that the weight loss didn't change his look significantly. Secondly, it's a romantic comedy, and that's one of the few genres of film where physique doesn't make a huge difference. And lastly, it was a totally unmemorable romantic comedy. Honestly, it was so unmemorable that when I saw the title of the movie I could have sworn that Emily Blunt's character was played by Amy Adams, until I realized that Amy Adams was in some other forgettable rom-com with some average boyfriend who strung her along for like five years. So Segel's transformation just seems like a whole lot of work for no real payoff.
2 Jonah Hill - War Dogs
Jonah Hill really established himself as the funny fat guy in his early career, but a few years ago he decided to drop some weight and actually went through a pretty amazing transformation. But then he signed on for a film called War Dogs, and apparently someone somewhere in the world thought that he needed to gain some weight back for the role. And so he did, gaining so much that some speculated that he might have been at his highest weight ever during the filming of the movie. He managed to ditch the regained weight after the filming concluded, and while the movie was well-received, his body transformation is still puzzling. Firstly, his size didn't contribute to the role at all. Secondly, I just cannot imagine anyone being willing to regain all the weight they've lost after putting in the insane amount of work it takes to lose it.
1 Charlie Sheen - Hot Shots Part Deux
Charlie Sheen is no stranger to putting his body through the absolute wringer, so getting in shape for Hot Shots Part Deux may have actually been one of the healthier periods of his life. However, for any normal and sane person, the regimen he undertook to gain 30 pounds of muscle for the film was completely bonkers. Sheen claimed to have worked out up to eight hours a day, running 3 to 5 miles a day and lifting weights three hours a day, and on top of the insane workout schedule, he also admitted to using steroids to get bigger and gain faster. This is more than a bit beyond the pale and sticks out as pretty extreme, even among this list of extremes. And it makes sense because it's Charlie Sheen, but it's also completely nuts because it was for Hot Shots Part Deux, of all things.