It may seem that the lives of your favorite actors and actresses are all sunshine and roses. But being a major A-list actor is no duck walk. Actors have to contend with a hell of a lot, most of which is for our viewing pleasure.
Nowadays, a lot of actors keep themselves trim. They appear in films which are essentially going to be around forever, so they want to look good. There’s this whole fitness craze amongst celebs. Decades ago, it was only a select few who brought a ripped, muscular package on screen; the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger for example. Today, they’re just a couple among the masses who like to keep themselves buff and in shape. For these two, bodybuilding is a lifestyle. But for others, they’ve had to reinvent themselves in order to play muscular characters on screen. It’s a struggle that consists of strict dieting and rigorous training regimes, but the end result is all certainly worth it.
Some actors have gone the other way in the name of movie entertainment. You may think it’d be great to laze about, eat junk and pile on the pounds, but these actors found it to be a real struggle. They normally lead active lives, so for them to suddenly do a 360 and lead sedentary lifestyles was understandably going to be tough.
These actors and actresses do a hell of a lot to ensure they portray their character in the correct manner. They need to look the part, and that often requires either getting ripped, or piling on the pounds. These are some celebs who’ve done just that; 8 celebs that got ripped for a movie role and 7 that piled on the pounds.
15 Ripped: Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
Let’s face it, Daniel Craig has always been in good shape. For those of you that didn’t know, he has starred in other films, and it hasn’t all been about James Bond. Back in his younger days, he was in really good shape. He was ripped, but then suddenly we saw a new Daniel Craig hit our screens. When he got cast as James Bond, he packed on a considerable amount of size, got muscular but still managed to stay shredded. Those who lift weights and are into bodybuilding will tell you that that’s no mean feat. He’s seriously ripped in all of his James Bond movies, and we know that because James Bond is someone who’s prone to taking off his shirt. But there’s one scene that when people first saw it, drove admirers crazy and got everyone talking. It’s that iconic scene where he emerges out of the sea, certainly the defining moment of his debut as James Bond. How did he get into such great shape? He basically became a powerlifter. He spent his time doing plenty of compound lifting movements with heavy weights – a seriously intense training regime. But we are sure that he, and anyone who saw that movie, would agree that it paid off.
14 Pack On The Pounds: Renée Zellweger, Bridget Jones
Renee Zellweger is best known for playing the lovable, ditsy character, Bridget Jones. Those films are pretty iconic, and that’s all down to Renee, and what she did to make the portrayal more believable. Renee didn’t just put on weight for one of the movies – she put on weight for the sequel, too. And she put on quite a bit of weight. Renee piled on 30 lbs for each of the movies to play the famous curvaceous Bridget Jones. She certainly didn’t find it easy. It took its toll on her body, and she felt really run down, knowing that what she was doing wasn’t great for her health. She frequently visited doctors to get herself checked out, and when filming had stopped, she lost the weight and got back to her healthy lifestyle right away. Just look at pics of Renee when she hasn’t been in the middle of filming a Bridget Jones movie, and she looks unrecognizable.
13 Ripped: Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Mila Kunis has always been petite, has always had a svelte figure. It’s evident that she keeps herself trim, keeps herself in shape and lives that whole health and fitness lifestyle. It’s part of the reason people go crazy over her. But Mila had to seriously push her body to the limit when she got cast in Black Swan, and played a rival ballet dancer. For those of you who aren’t clued up about ballet, do your research and you’ll soon discover that it’s a pretty gruelling activity, and that you’ve got to be incredibly fit to make it to a high level. Mila had to train like a ballet dancer in preparation for the movie, and got even leaner. She took ballet classes for five hours a day, and was put on a calorie restricted diet. She’s been very open about saying that she absolutely hated the experience. Mila has revealed that she felt seriously unattractive because she had no shape to her figure. She found it so gruelling, that she actually took up smoking again, something which she’d previously given up. She looked amazing in the movie, though; that’s the price these A-listers have got to pay to keep churning out amazing performances.
12 Packed On The Pounds: Sylvester Stallone, Cop Land
Has Sylvester Stallone ever been fat? Like I mentioned in the intro, Sly – as he’s affectionately known – is known for his physique. But the answer’s yes, Sly has once been fat. For one movie, he was required to put on a load of weight, and got quite a paunch. It was a really odd look for Sly fans, because it’s just not what we’re accustomed to seeing. We’re used to the veiny arms, rippling muscles, rock hard abs, but in the movie Cop Land, this muscle was replaced by rolls of fat. Sly himself wasn’t used to that look – it was the first time he was required to gain weight. With him leading that whole health and fitness lifestyle, being one of Hollywood’s original muscle men, he found it incredibly tough. He accomplished the look by eating with utter abandon. His diet basically consisted of junk food, and only junk food, and he stopped training. His body just wasn’t used to it, and he actually started getting health problems. He gained 40 lbs and put his body through hell. At least it was worth it for the cinematic experience.
11 Ripped: Kate Beckinsale, Underworld
The beautiful British actress Kate Beckinsale is primarily known for her role in the Underworld action horror film series. Her character’s a vampire; ever seen a fat vampire, or at least one that’s not in shape? Nope, I didn’t think so. That’s why Kate has had to work hard to get in shape for those movies. She hasn’t just done it the once either. There are five of those movies, and one in the pipeline, so Kate’s had to put herself through a tough training schedule each and every time in order to get ripped. She wears a catsuit in those movies. You’d think she’d diet down and attempt to lose weight to fit into that catsuit. But Kate has revealed that although she’s ripped, she doesn’t want to be too skinny, so actually does a bit of bulking so she can fill out the catsuit, and not have it hanging off her. She trains hard, but actually eats more in order to fuel her body for her workouts. Not a lot of people could get away with that and still look in fabulous shape.
10 Packed On The Pounds: Matthew McConaughey, Gold
Matthew McConaughey is another guy who truly looked unrecognizable in the movie Gold. We’ve seen Matthew in a number of guises over the years, from slick and crude Wall Street banker to rodeo cowboy. He transformed again for this movie. He said that he’d walk around and nobody would have a clue who he was. That was in part due to the makeup team working their magic, but it was also down to the weight gain. A lot of those who gained weight and appear on this list gained 30 lbs or so. Matthew gained 50 lbs. Another way Matthew’s weight gain experience differed from the others on this list is that he really embraced it and absolutely loved it. He’s revealed that he was having cheeseburgers, pizza and beer for breakfast, and every night at his house his family would tuck into a load of junk food. It made him very popular with his kids!
9 Ripped: Hugh Jackman, X-Men Movies
Hugh Jackman’s someone who’s renowned for his physique. In most of his movies, he’s in decent shape. But people saw a totally different Hugh Jackman in the 2013 movie, The Wolverine. People just couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Hugh Jackman, whose name is synonymous with the X-Men, is best known for his portrayal of the Wolverine, and it’s as though he actually transformed into a mutant in that movie. He was in his mid-40s, but just looked ridiculous. The package that Hugh brought to our screens was ripped beyond belief. Understandably, to get into such shape, Hugh had a gruelling training schedule. He trained heavy, and basically ate like a caveman, eating lots and lots of steak, which was hard considering he was filming two films at the time and was working 12-hour days. But the result was one of pure perfection. It’s probably one of the most ripped physiques we’ve seen on screen.
8 Packed On The Pounds: Charlize Theron, Monster
Today, South African beauty Charlize Theron is regarded to be one of the hottest actresses on the Hollywood scene. She’s beautiful, super-fit, and is just gorgeous from top to toe – oh, and she can act too. But based on the movie Monster, you certainly wouldn’t believe that. It was a transformation of epic proportions. Charlize really did look unrecognizable in that movie. If her name didn’t appear in the credits, you wouldn’t have had a clue she even starred in that movie. Charlize portrayed the serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the movie, and to feel closer to the character, she gained 30 lbs for the role. What’s amazing is that Charlize wasn’t actually told she had to gain weight. She made the decision to pile on the pounds herself, feeling it would just work, and that she’d feel more like Aileen. Speaking about the role, she said: "It wasn't about getting fat. Aileen wasn't fat. Aileen carried scars on her body from her lifestyle, and if I'd gone to make this movie with my body — physically, I'm very athletic — I don't know that I would have felt the things Aileen felt with her body. It was about getting to a place where I felt closer to how Aileen was living."
7 Ripped: Emily Blunt, Edge Of Tomorrow
For The Edge of Tomorrow, British actress Emily Blunt had to turn herself into a physical super soldier. It wasn’t just about losing weight and getting ripped either. Emily had to gain strength too, because she’d be carrying around an exoskeleton for the majority of the film, which would weigh around 60 lbs. She needed to have a strong core to be able to lug all that excess weight around. So, around two and a half months before shooting was due to commence, she went at it, went about morphing into a lean mean fighting machine. When she showed up for the first day of the shoot, legendary actor Tom Cruise, who’s probably one of the fittest actors around, was amazed at how Emily looked. He could see that she’d done her preparation, and was eager for them to work out together. He wanted to experience what Emily had been doing over the previous two and a half months. That’s high praise indeed coming from Tom Cruise.
6 Packed On The Pounds: Russell Crowe, Body Of Lies
Russell Crowe isn’t exactly known for his ripped physique. Actually, we take that back – he is for one of his movies, Gladiator. That’s one movie he actually got ripped for. But aside from that movie role, Russell Crowe’s got what you’d call an average body – he’s not walking around with a six pack, nor does he struggle to see his toes. But he might have had some trouble looking down when filming Body of Lies. He had to seriously pile on the weight for that movie, because he wanted to fit the character, and essentially look like he was living the sedentary lifestyle of his character. He played a CIA agent, not someone who was out in the field or anything like that, but someone who did most of his work at his desk. Russell put on 30 lbs for the movie, and didn’t hold back either. Cheeseburgers and cupcakes for breakfast anyone? That’s exactly what Russell did.
5 Ripped: Brad Pitt, Fight Club
One of the movies that sparked this whole celebrity workout trend was Fight Club. It’s an iconic movie, and Brad Pitt’s look in the film probably contributed to that. When people first set eyes on that movie, they were dumbfounded. He was ripped beyond belief. Apparently, he managed to get his body fat percentage to around 5%, which is the type of figure you’d expect from a competitive bodybuilder or pro athlete. Brad sure did look like an athlete in the film, which we suppose was the goal. To get that lean look, understandably he had to keep his diet in check, restrict himself, and totally kill it in the gym. It might have been a gruelling schedule, but in the end, everything paid off, and Brad achieved one of the most enviable Hollywood physiques around.
4 Packed On The Pounds: Julia Roberts, Eat Pray Love
Many people deem Julia Roberts to have the perfect body. She’s gorgeous in every which way, has the perfect physique, the look, a smile to melt hearts – and she’s still got it too, which is amazing considering she’s approaching 50! She’s acquired an extensive filmography, and one of her most memorable movies was the 2010 romantic comedy-drama, Eat Pray Love. She portrayed the character of Liz Gilbert, a woman who had everything but at the same time had nothing. Liz didn’t know where her life was going, was at a crossroads, so she stepped out of her comfort zone and went on a journey to try and find herself. She found herself in America, India, Indonesia and Italy, eating, immersing herself in the local cultures, and just having an experience of a lifetime. The professional she is, Julia wanted to make Liz more authentic, and did this by gaining 30 lbs. Not many would pile on that amount of weight if not instructed to do so! It just shows Julia’s dedication to her craft, and why she’s achieved all the accolades she has over the years.
3 Ripped: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
When actors and actresses accept a role in a fighting movie, they know they’re going to be put through their paces. Boxing movies are famous for the training scenes, the fights, and the ripped physiques on show. To be a fighter you’ve got to be a lean, mean fighting machine, and Hilary Swank certainly looked the part. Just because she’s a woman, it wasn’t any easier for her. In fact, it must have been even tougher, but she got through it, pushed her body mentally and physically. I’m talking about her character in the film, and the preparation stages of that movie. She trained at a gritty boxing club, nothing glamorous. From the get go, it was intense, and at the end of it, when Hilary was ready to shoot the movie. She could have stepped into the ring with any pro and held her own.
2 Packed On The Pounds: George Clooney, Syriana
The stereotypical image of a CIA operative is of an overweight man, a pencil pusher, if you will. Russell Crowe played the role in Body of Lies and piled on the pounds, and George Clooney did so in the 2005 movie, Syriana. Unlike Crowe, Clooney’s character was actually in the field, but still had a load of excess weight. And Clooney absolutely hated it. It would be fair to say that he hated it more than the others on this list. It was one of the worst experiences of his life when preparing for and filming that movie. He’s usually very fit and healthy, and likes to take care of himself. That all went to pot for the sake of this movie. Clooney said that the lifestyle he led caused him to age around a decade, and he actually got really depressed. Matt Damon, his co-star in the film, has revealed that Clooney, who’s normally up and about in between shoots, used to just sit there with his head in his hands and hardly move. Wow – those must have been some seriously tough times for the legendary actor.
1 Ripped: Will Smith, Ali
Here’s another boxing movie. When the casting directors were looking for a guy to play legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, picking Will Smith must have been a no-brainer. Those who’ve seen Will’s body of work will know that he’s someone who’s always in great shape. He walks around lean and ripped, has that typical athletic physique. But he had to get even more ripped for the movie Ali. He had to get ripped but he had to bulk up too, and the end result was one awesome physique, one that Ali himself would’ve been proud of. Will spent two years living like Ali, getting into the correct mindset, getting his boxing skills up to scratch and working on his body. During this time, he became close to Ali too, a man he remembers as his mentor, his friend, and the greatest fighter who’s ever laced up the gloves. He certainly did the great man justice with his performance in the biographical film.