Every year, especially around Oscar season, we hear these grand stories about actors going to absolute extremes to land roles, prepare for roles or get into character. Half of these stories are likely baloney, whereas the other half are no doubt exaggerated. You ever wonder why the cast and crew talk about these wild preparations so much? Think about how many of the actors who did "crazy" things to prepare for a role have won awards. Yeah, we'll include a few of these in this list, more as representatives of a type of preparation than anything else. We want to mention actors who went to extremes of all types to land a role. Rather than talk about all the actors who gained weight, lost weight or learned a trade individually, we'll try and spread it out to touch on a number of different areas.
Let's start by addressing who's been left off the list. To cut back on the category of "weight gainers/cutters," we've left out Jared Leto for a few roles, Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones' Diary, Chris Hemsworth for Heart of the Sea, 50 Cent for that one movie that no one saw and even Christian Bale for The Machinist and several others. Here's why we've done this. These stories are stupid. We'll include a few important milestones, but we're not going to talk about every millionaire who ate only spaghetti for a month to gain weight. Another thing we're going to avoid are actors who learned a skill for a film. Like boohoo, Natalie Portman had to learn how to dance for an Academy Award. Oh no, Harrison Ford assisted surgery to prepare for The Fugitive. First, is that even allowed? Second, that's not that amazing. It's called working.
There's a funny story that relates to these types of acting shenanigans. Though it's often taken out of context, we'll mention it anyway. Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier were working on Marathon Man together, and Hoffman was going through a difficult time. To cope, he was partying like a maniac, staying up all night, going to Studio 54, taking drugs, basically just being awesome. They moved the shoot to Los Angeles and Hoffman arrived to the set looking gross. Chances had it that, like the actor, Hoffman's character had also been awake for days, so it looked like Hoffman was being all method. Olivier, who ironically went to extreme lengths for roles himself, looked at Hoffman and said jokingly, "Why don't you try acting?" That would be much easier, right? Here are 15 celebs who will do anything for a movie role.
15 Body Transformed, Robert De Niro – Raging Bull
14 Gained 70 Pounds, Vincent D'Onofrio – Full Metal Jacket
13 Just Looked Awful, Charlize Theron – Monster
12 Got Skinny & Frail, Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
11 Froze Balls Off, Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
When the press for The Revenant was in full swing, all we heard was how difficult the filming process was, how the conditions were grueling and how everything shot was real. To get into character, Leo fought off a live bear and ripped its face off to truly understand how ripping a bear's face off would feel. Who knows what's real and what's just fluff from these stories?
10 Staph Infection, Tom Hanks – Castaway
9 Broke Two Ribs, Daniel Day-Lewis – My Left Foot
8 Gave Up Possessions, Adrian Brody – The Pianist
7 Juiced, Charlie Sheen – Major League
6 Crazy Hair, James McAvoy – X-Men: First Class
5 Huge Pay Cut, Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
4 Seemed Insane, Joaquin Phoenix – I'm Still Here
3 Waited 16 Years, Clint Eastwood – Unforgiven
2 Quit Bathing, Shia LaBeouf – Fury
1 Locked Himself Away, Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
They say it was the role that made him crazy. No one knows what happened to Heath Ledger while he was preparing for the role of the Joker in The Dark Knight, but people sure like talking about it. Heath, to try and get his mind, body and voice into the true spirit of the Joker, locked himself in a hotel room for long stretches of time over a six-week period. Part of the reason why so many people question whether this role had anything to do with Ledger's death not long after filming was because of the following comments he made. He said, "I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices — it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath — someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts." When thinking about actors who maybe went too far for a role, it's hard not to think of Ledger and the Joker, even if it is all blown way out of proportion.
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