Acting has got to be one of the strangest jobs one can have on this planet. Your job is essentially to have an identity crisis at the whim and entertainment of other people. There’s a misconception that acting is an easy job. People have this image in their heads of some ultra-rich person waltzing onto a set, reading some lines they practiced for a bit in their trailer before some movie magic happens and bang, you have a movie. In reality untold amounts of work go into not only the movie by and large, but the performances that bring those movies to life. Anthony Hopkins, for instance, is known for practicing his lines 100 times in the bathroom mirror before he feels like he’s done enough. And of course there are the myths and urban legends surrounding the late and great Heath Ledger, his performance as The Joker and how that may have affected his health.
So there’s no denying that the people that dedicate themselves to the craft go through insane feats just to play the part, and just to get the role. But what other types of insane transformations have actors gone through in order to transcend into the character they’re trying to play? The most common we hear about is an actor’s strict regimen for losing weight with harsh diets and harsher workout schedules. But what about actors who purposely but on weight for a role, or feel pressure from their audience to? What are the heath factors that go into those decisions? Today we find out as we look at 20 celebrities who put on rolls for roles.
20 Ryan Gosling Got Fired For Getting Too Big
Remember when Ryan Gosling was in The Lovely Bones? Neither do we because he was fired before he ever set foot in front of a camera. But he was hired initially, so what happened? When Ryan was cast to play Jack Salmon, the grieving father of the book and film that was ultimately filled by Marky Mark Wahlberg.
A difference in the vision for the character had Gosling ousted from the role, for which he reportedly gained 60 pounds drinking melted ice cream.
But this wouldn’t be the only time Gosling would gain weight for a role. In Blue Valentine between 15-20 pounds to come across more like a regular human being rather than the monument to human perfection he is. Not only that but he said the fat was like a costume itself. He mentions in an interview that revealing scenes were actually easier to do because he didn’t see his paunch as being a part of him, but rather a costume covering his real appearance.
19 Matt Damon Ate "Everything In Sight" For The Informant
Have you ever noticed that Matt Damon is basically just an underrated genius in everything he’s in? In The Talented Mr. Ripley, he’s a wildly intelligent psychopath. In Goodwill Hunting, he’s a math prodigy living in poverty and wasting his talent on construction and janitorial jobs. And The Martian? Genius scientist goes to Mars and uses his genius to grow potatoes until he’s rescued.
So what about in The Informant, where Damon plays a VP who’s whistleblowing on price fixing corn? Damon is a pudgy, unassuming man, far away from his Jason Bourne counterparts. In preparation for the role Damon ate everything in sight.
He would eat a McDonald's value meal and finish it off with Doritos and drank a lot to put on 30 pounds.
After shooting was done he lost it all in boxing, saying “If you put it on, it’s easier to put off.”
18 Seth Rogen Put The Weight He Lost Back On For Neighbours
Seth Rogen has always been seen as the pinnacle of silly comedy. With his trademark laugh, roster of exceedingly great comedy movies, and successful show business career, one would wonder why he wouldn’t use all of that money towards a personal trainer. After all the only more trademarks about Seth Rogen than his laugh is his weight. The tragedy is that he doesn’t seem to be quite as popular after he loses weight.
As a matter of fact, Rogen lost 30 pounds for his role in The Green Hornet which made $220 million in box office, ousting its $120 mil budget, but was criticized for its lack of comedy. Lo and behold 3 years later, the comedy Neighbors comes out starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. In interviews with Variety Rogen recalls that he actually gained weight for the role, knowing that the juxtaposition between his belly and Zac’s rippling abs was important.
17 Jonah Hill Put The Weight He Lost Back On For War Dogs
Placing this comic duo together seemed appropriate. Jonah Hill's breakout role would be in Superbad where he would star as a young Seth during the misadventures of the end of high school, written of course, by Seth Rogen. The film was an instant classic and is still largely quoted and revered as a comedy today. But Jonah has had his own conflict with his comedy career and weight gain. He lost weight in the early 2010s, but his comedy career started to fall short. In 2011 Hill would star in The Sitter which would be slammed by critics and only make a very small profit in box office.
By the time he was asked to star in War Dogs in 2016 he had held an on-again off-again relationship with his weight, helped along and supported by Channing Tatum and was asked to gain 40 pounds for the role. These days he’s keeping it off, the comedy star cited Channing Tatum as being a big influence on some of the dietary habits he’s picked up such as keeping a food journal.
16 Christian Bale Gains And Loses Like Crazy
Christian Bale will forever be in our collective subconscious as gravelly voiced Batman. But that’s not to say he won’t also be remembered for his litany of terrific movies he starred in leading up to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. For instance, Bale starred in the cult classic American Psycho, which is a dark comedy/thriller which focuses on the loss of identity in modern office culture and business. In the movie Bale plays the charming and handsome Patrick Bateman. Bale was 180 pounds of sheer muscle for the role.
Conversely, he would switch up his diet to an apple and a cup of coffee a day to be the 120 pounds in The Machinist. And as if a 60 pound weight shift wasn’t dramatic enough, Bale wanted to go down to just 99 pounds but even the filmmakers said no. And this doesn’t even touch on the 43 pounds he gained for The American Hustle and Cheney, citing it took him 6 months to get off his Hustle potbelly.
15 Jared Leto Gained Weight For Chapter 27
On the other end of the spectrum, Jared Leto is basically Hollywood’s weirdo. He does all sorts of unhealthy or dramatic things in the name of “method acting” but it always comes across as dangerous and weird. Like the various ways he harassed his fellow cast members on the set of Suic*de Squad by giving them dead mice in boxes and grossing them out with other weird gifts. Unfortunately, Leto works as some sort of opposite land Midas Touch, where instead of turning everything he touches to gold, he turns it to garbage.
For a 2007 film called Chapter 27, Leto gained 67 pounds for his role.
That’s the equivalent to a full grown Dalmatian he strapped to his body. He actually ended up getting gout due to his weight gain, which is a painful kind of arthritis that develops with crystal deposits in your joints. The movie has a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, and with a $5 million budget, the movie grossed a measly $187k box office.
14 Sean Astin Gained Weight For Star Role
We’re going to talk about his amazing performance in Stranger Things but first we have to talk about his breakout role. Sean Astin will always be in our hearts as Samwise Gamgee, the tender and sensitive best friend who kept Frodo’s spirits up during their perilous journey to rid themselves of the ring. For that who’ve seen it (and who hasn’t) you’ll likely remember lots of scenes of Sam eating, or rationing the food out. Sam’s love for food is really a part of his character, but did you know he had to gain 60-80 pounds for the role?
After taking a break from filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he went on to be in the light comedy 50 First Dates alongside Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore; he lost an unspecified amount of weight for that role. Astin would go on to put on a bit of friendly dad weight for Stranger Things.
13 Matthew McConaughey Gained For Gold
This is a man whose entire acting career consisted of shirtless rom-coms for what seemed like an eternity before the “McConaissance” occurred and totally pivoted his career. Matthew McConaughey was basically an attractive meme. Even if he was in a more serious film like the psychological horror/thriller Frailty, it seemed he just couldn’t help himself but take his shirt off to dig a hole or some other thinly-veiled pretence. As a matter of fact, the first film that comes to mind where he doesn’t go shirtless is in Tropic Thunder as Ben Stiller’s agent.
After the McConaissance, however, he took his acting into a whole other dimension, and Lincoln Lawyer and True Detectives headed off what would eventually turn into the Oscar winning Dallas Buyers Club, where he lost 38 pounds. But he can go the other way too.
He gained 45 pounds, wore false teeth, and shaved his head to star in Gold.
12 Rob McElhenney Gained 52 Pounds Because He Thought It’d Be Funny
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is certainly a pioneer in comedy. First airing in 2005, the show has seen a healthy fanbase earned through dark humour and subverting sit-com tropes and stereotypes. The gang doesn’t hang out at a coffee shop or an upscale apartment. No, they hang out in a pub instead. And that pub isn’t owned by a charming gentleman named Sam, constantly serving new and regular patrons. No, it’s owned by Mac and Dee, and it’s a dark and rundown joint that’s perpetually empty.
Rob McElhenney loves subverting the stereotype, and he noticed as sitcoms go on, the stars get thinner and the story gets more syrupy, and Rob wanted nothing to do with that. Rob said in an interview with Nick Kroll, “Even the nerds on Big Bang Theory are getting better looking... They’re better groomed. It works for them. But this show – it’s not like that.” Amazingly, Nick went from 160 to 212 pounds, and even more surprisingly he lost 23 pounds in one month and would say that he felt great while eating. “Yeah, I was jolly. And I was just full of energy, because I was eating so much. It was just constant fuel.”
11 Emma Stone Gained 15 Pounds To Play A Famous Tennis Player
Here is another Superbad Star that’s gone on to do great things. Emma Stone started in a high school stoner comedy with Jonah Hill making lewd gestures at her, and moved on to Easy A and her first run in with Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love. She finally nailed it in La La Land where she took home the Oscar for Best Actress in a Lead Role. She is definitely a woman who’s dedicated to her craft and who we will surely see blossom into one of the greats over time.
Recently, Emma Stone starred in Battle of the S*xes, where she plays Billie Jean King, a famous tennis player. For the role, she was asked to gain 15 pounds.
But this weight wasn’t to add curvy or voluptuous appeal. No, they wanted hard muscle, and Stone was ecstatic to do the work. Her trainer ramped up her diet with good calories and sent her to the weight room for 3 months.
10 Kubrick Asked Vincent D’Onofrio To Gain 60 Pounds
One of the greater unknown actors of our time, Vincent D’Onofrio sort of flies under the radar until he shows up and absolutely steals the screen in whatever it is he’s in. D’Onofrio was a bouncer when he decided to mail an acting package to the infamous director Stanley Kubrick. When Kubrick called back, D’Onofrio was so certain it was a prank he hung up on the director the first time. After a phone call and a bit of back and forth, Kubrick would cast D’Onofrio in the film Full Metal Jacket.
Immediately being thrown into such a daunting project, D’Onofrio really threw himself into the art. He gained an astonishing 70 pounds for the role, and doing a great job as Private Pyle thus forever putting Jared Leto’s acting attempts to shame. But he wasn’t done there; he would star in Law and Order: Criminal Intent for a decade before absolutely smashing it as the Kingpin in Marvel’s Daredevil, which was another role he had to gain an unspecified amount of weight for.
9 Ewan McGregor Gained To Play His Own Brother In Fargo
Fargo is a stunningly well done show that often flies under the radar. It holds all of the small story, small town Minnesotan feel the original movie had in 1996. Every season offers a stunning cast who portray all variety of colourful characters. In season 1, Billy Bob Thornton plays the quiet chaotic psychopath Lorne Malvo. In season 2, we had Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst play an oddball couple. And in season 3, Ewan McGregor plays his own brother, sometimes playing both on set in the same day.
When he is Ray Stussy, a down and out PO, you don’t recognize him behind his balding mullet, gross moustache and padded weight. It took 2.5 hours in the chair just to get ready on set, but it went further than that. He gained 3 inches on his waist eating “whatever he wanted.” With no set weight limit, he didn’t even weigh himself; he just ate whatever he wanted. He would have to wear a compression shirt which he needed assistance getting in and out of to play the leaner brother Emit.
8 Sylvester Stallone Gained Weight To Drop Typecast
Sylvester Stallone will forever be enshrined in the Rocky and Rambo franchises. If that doesn’t seal the deal, the self-referential The Expendables franchise cemented him across generations of being some sort of an action hero in a world which only ever sees superheroes. But after being seen around the world as a muscle-bound gun-toting tough guy, he wanted to settle himself down a bit and shake off the typecasting he had undergone.
So he decided to be in the film Cop Land where he plays a sheriff in a New Jersey community who finds out the NYPD is a front for organized crime, which some might argue isn’t exactly shaking the typecast. Nonetheless, Stallone was determined to show that he could commit himself to the art of acting as much in one direction as another.
Stallone gained 40 pounds for the role to add realism to the character.
I suppose the fat sheriff stereotype is maybe more than a stereotype.
7 Morgan Spurlock Gained Weight To Expose Fast Food
Supersize Me will go down in history as one of the pioneer documentary styles that would set the attention on fast food companies to ensure that their food was healthy and be one of the first to do so. Before Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me, fast food restaurants employed all sorts of duplicitous and shady tactics to sell more, and feed as many people to as much excess as they could. After it came out, the industry has been under the watchful public eye to ensure fresher food and healthier menu options.
But this came at the risk of his own personal health, and the documentary makes that very clear. His liver had started to accumulate fat, his cholesterol had skyrocketed, and he had gained 23 pounds. Spurlock isn’t a superstar with the resources of dieticians and high class personal trainers. It reportedly took him 14 months to return his body back to fully healthy conditions.
6 Charlize Theron Gained Pounds For Monster
Charlize Theron's story and struggle with weight gain for the sake of roles is probably one of the most tragic in the list. It’s tough to hear about people we look up to having a hard time or struggling with anything, and in the show business industry that type of behaviour happens to come in spades.
In 2003, Theron wanted to find herself a role that she could lose herself in. That role would land her an Oscar, but it would also start a long struggle with personal weight gain.
For Monster, Theron reportedly ate donuts until she was unrecognizable, gaining 30 pounds in total.
After the role was done, she lost the weight pretty easily. But the troubles started further down the line, when she starred in Jason Reitman’s Tully where she was told to gain some mom weight. She told Variety she felt it in her health. The sugar made her depressed, she had tooth aches, and was quoted calling it “brutal in every sense.”
5 George Clooney Packed On Carbs For Syriana
George Clooney is seen as one of Hollywood’s eternal hunks, and will probably hold some vaguely handsome air to him late into his twilight years like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. That’s why it’s so strange that he decided to put on considerable weight for a role. In the film Syriana Clooney plays a CIA officer in the back drop of a complex and tense drama.
For the role Clooney needed to look like he was heavy from his long time being with the CIA and the training that brought him through, as well as the retired paunch of a military man who is trying to start a life with his family. 1997’s Hottest Man Alive ate a heavy pasta diet to gain a whomping 35 pounds for the role. He hasn’t gone on the record to talk too much about the weight gain. It’s safe to say as soon as shooting was done he was back with the personal trainer and dieticians.
4 Julia Roberts Ate, Played, And Loved It
Julia Roberts is a lady you can’t help but admire. She’s got that trademark laugh in Pretty Woman, and was the love interest to George Clooney in Ocean’s 11. But just saying that is reductive to her decades long career that started in 1987 and includes countless other blockbusters such as The Mexican, Charlotte’s Web, and Charlie Wilson’s War.
In 2010, Roberts would star in Eat, Pray, Love, a movie about a woman who’s unhappy with where her life is, ditches the husband and hits the road to “find herself.” The movie didn't do well critically and saw a modest box office return, but Roberts had fun filming it.
In interviews, she revealed that she gained 10 pounds during Eat, Pray, Love. However, it was not in preparation for the role, but during filming.
And if we’ve seen anything in this list it’s the unhealthy lengths actors will go through for a part. It’s bittersweet: sweet because Roberts got to relax while shooting a light film, bitter because she felt the need to confess this information in an interview.
3 Russell Crowe Gained 60 Pounds For Body Of Lies
Russell Crowe is a classic movie tough guy. He’s always been a movie tough guy too. If you’ve seen LA Confidential you probably remember the scene where he gets brutally attacked and lives. That basically sums of Russell Crowe as an actor and as a character, don’t you think? But let’s not paint him with just the action brush. How could we forget that he was in the Oscar winning Beautiful Mind and Les Miserables?
So Crowe is a dedicated actor, and a good one at that. That’s why it should shock no one that he gained twice the weight Clooney would for Syriana.
That’s right; Crowe packed on an impressive 60 pounds to play his rendition of retired CIA operative alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. He lost the weight and then put it back on to play Jackson Healy in 2016’s The Nice Guys.
2 Ryan Reynolds Gained Muscle For Green Lantern
Ryan Reynolds has a really rough history with superhero franchises, but has luckily seemed to found his stride with the most recent Deadpool. However before that a lot of us tried to forget about the time he was in The Green Lantern. But the mouthy Canadian star was in an even earlier superhero movie, which was owned by Marvel.
Does anyone remember when Ryan Reynolds was in Blade: Trinity as the retrospectively cringe-inducing antagonist? As much as we wish to forget these roles, Reynolds put a lot of work into the roles himself.
For Blade: Trinity he bulked up to an impressive 190 pounds and stands at an intimidating 6’2”.
While Trinity was a hit when it was first released, The Green Lantern, for which he bulked up to the same peak level, was an immediate flop.
1 Hilary Swank Got Ripped For Million Dollar Baby
Hilary Swank is a dedicated actress who has been in show business since 1990 and would make a name for herself in Insomnia and Boys Don’t Cry. And while she would be an excellent asset, they would only be appetizers for her career masterpiece in Million Dollar Baby.
These days, actors going through horrendous conditions might be what it takes to seal in the Oscar, like what we saw with The Revenant. But as Leo showed us, it’s more than self-flagellation that gets you the Oscar. It’s raw acting talent coupled with that determination to portray the role. In Million Dollar Baby Swank would go through an insane regimen including eating every half hour to get enough protein, 2.5 hours of boxing and 2.5 hours of weight room 6 days a week, getting 9 hours of sleep (waking up once to drink a protein shake), and drinking 8-12 egg-whites in a sitting because eating them was (understandably) too much. Swank would go on to say that while the producers wanted her to gain 10 pounds in muscle, Swank nearly doubled it going from 110 to 129.
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