Beefing Up: Ten Actors Who Underwent Remarkable Physical Transformations For Their Roles

%name Beefing Up: Ten Actors Who Underwent Remarkable Physical Transformations For Their Roles

When an actor completely immerses themselves into a role, the result is usually stunning. Sometimes though, what’s more impressive is the work that went in before filming even began. Changing appearance for roles has become quite common in movies today, but occasionally, an actor’s physical transformation goes far beyond a bit of make-up or a haircut, like Christian Bale in, well, most of his films.

In The Dark Knight Rises, out in theatres this week, actor Tom Hardy bulked up significantly to play the menacing terrorist Bane, a new villain intent on taking down Gotham City. The actor has had to bulk up for roles before (WarriorBronsonand in honour of his dedication, we look back at ten actors who have undergone remarkable physical transformations for their roles.

To start, let’s look at the aforementioned Mr. Hardy.

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Tom Hardy For The Dark Knight Rises

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Tom Hardy has never been slim, but in the photos and video clips of the actor in character as Bane, he looks absolutely massive. Fanboys have complained that Hardy doesn’t look like someone that can bench 1,500 pounds, but the actor has certainly thrown himself into the role, putting on over 30 pounds in just 3 months.

This isn’t the first time that Hardy has bulked up for a role either. He looked absolutely ripped in Warrior and put on quite a bit of mass for his titular role in Bronson (see below).

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Hardy attributes his muscle gain to a diet very heavy in chicken and broccoli. He also said that all he did was lift weights, eat, and be careful not to run anywhere for fear of losing weight during his preparation for The Dark Knight Rises. Though his transformation may not be as extreme as some of the other ones on this list, it’s still impressive and it earns our respect.

Natalie Portman/Mila Kunis For Black Swan

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The girls of Black Swan both dramatically slimmed down further than their already slender figures to fully get into their roles. The weight they lost may not be as much as other actors on the list, but considering it put both of them well under 100 pounds, the percent of body weight lost was extreme.

Portman trained for a year to prepare for the role. Her meals consisted mostly of almonds and carrots. The actress was already a vegan before filming started so she ate much of the same things as she did before, just in much smaller portions. She supplemented the diet with rigorous training of up to 8 hours a day in the year leading up to filming, and as she got closer to the first shoot her workouts sometimes hit 16 hours a day.

Kunis stuck to a strict 1,200 calorie diet for 6 months, and trained for around 5 hours a day during that time. By the time filming began she was down to 95 pounds.

Transformations aside, both women gave fantastic performances as well, earning a lot of praise, which was well deserved.

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50 Cent For All Things Fall Apart

%name Beefing Up: Ten Actors Who Underwent Remarkable Physical Transformations For Their Roles

Rapper/actor 50 Cent was hardly recognizable in the 2011 film All Things Fall ApartFor his role as a football player diagnosed with cancer, Curtis Jackson dropped from his normal weight of 214 pounds to a mere 160 pounds. That’s a 54 pound loss, I really can’t see any doctor being alright with that.

Jackson went on a strictly liquid diet and spent 3 hours a day on a treadmill. 3 hours folks, think about that. 50 also had all his tattoos removed from his arms because he was sick of having to spend extra time in makeup to have them covered up.

Even though the movie wasn’t a critical success, Jackon’s dedication earned him some respect in the acting world and in our eyes too. Though he may not have much talent on the big screen, his dedication is undeniable and it’s pretty damn impressive.

Charlize Theron For Monster

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For an actress as stunningly beautiful as Charlize Theron to make herself appear as anything but gorgeous would take a lot of work, but for Monster it wasn’t just make-up artists that helped her take on her role as serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Theron added 30 pounds of her own to further the effect.

The appearance was greatly aided by make-up and a set of prosthetic teeth, but her performance likely wouldn’t have been as successful without the weight she gained. Her diet for the movie consisted mostly of potato chips and donuts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my books, but Theron only had 3 weeks between the final shoot of Monster and her next film, Head In The Clouds, which she drop back down to her normal weight for, which wasn’t easy.

Her dedication certainly paid off as it resulted in a Best Actress Oscar and was hailed as one of the best performances in the history of cinema by Roger Ebert.

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Russell Crowe For Body Of Lies

Body Of Lies Crowe l Beefing Up: Ten Actors Who Underwent Remarkable Physical Transformations For Their Roles

In Body Of LiesRussell Crowe was a far, far cry from his toned Gladiator body, packing on 63 pounds to play a CIA agent who is well past his physical prime. The actor went up to 257 pounds to portray the image of a character that rarely did anything more active than sitting down. Crowe himself got to the point where he had trouble getting out of his car due to the weight gain.

With a diet that consisted of lots of cupcakes and cheeseburgers for breakfast, Crowe actually enjoyed is transformation, though his body wasn’t as supportive, considering his cholesterol levels were dangerously high. Luckily for him, and for moviegoers, Crowe was able to shed the weight and not have any major lasting damage. However, he did have trouble losing the bulk, with it taking him nearly two years to get back down to his previous weight. Two years for one role? I’d call that dedication.

Robert De Niro For Raging Bull

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Regarded by many as the original king of method acting, Robert De Niro never showcased his dedication more than in Raging Bull. This was the role that set the standard for the majority of the other actors on this list. It showed what dedication can do to a human body, and what incredible results it can have on a performance.

The film had to be shot in two parts to show the stark contrast between the lean, cut boxer, and the pudgy older Jake La Motta. During the break in filming De Niro gained 60 pounds to beef up for the older La Motta. His diet was mostly Italian food. And a lot of it. How fitting.

Director Martin Scorsese said that the scenes with a fatter De Niro were filmed quickly, with less takes than the rest of the movie due to the extreme physical strain that was put on the actor’s body.

Like Theron, the result was an Oscar for Best Actor as well as a nomination for Best Picture and a permanent spot on almost every top films and performances list.

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Tom Hanks For Cast Away

Cast away Beefing Up: Ten Actors Who Underwent Remarkable Physical Transformations For Their Roles

Tom Hanks was no stranger to losing weight for roles, having lost 26 pounds for Philadelphia, but it was for Cast Away in which Hanks took his transformation to another level.

Following the Raging Bull model, the filming was split into two parts with a one year break in between in order for Hanks to make his drastic transformation. Except, Hanks pulled a reverse De Niro and instead, shed weight. Over the course of four months Hanks lost an incredible 55 pounds.

To lose that much weight you need to eat like you’re literally on a deserted island, which Hanks did, saying his daily meals could fit in the palm of his hand. Entertainment Weekly asked Hanks what it was he missed most during to his limited diet:

”Oh, those FFs, man. Those fries from France… The only thing I did not give up was coffee…”

Hanks’s performance didn’t go unnoticed and like so many others on this list, he was recognized by many critics. He won a Golden Globe award and was nominated for an Oscar for the role.

Matt Damon For Courage Under Fire

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Matt Damon has had many memorable films come out, films that most moviegoers are well familiar with. But, it isn’t his iconic roles as Will Hunting or Jason Bourne that landed him on this list, rather it was his part in the 1996 film Courage Under Fire.

Damon has looked extremely fit in many roles (Jason Bourne’s bulging biceps were certainly the envy of many wannabe secret agents), but in his younger days, Damon dropped down to 110 pounds to play heroin-addicted Ilorio.

To lose the weight Damon adopted an extremely strict diet. For months he only ate chicken, egg whites, steamed broccoli, and plain baked potatoes. To further his weight loss he also ran 13 miles a day, 6.5 in the morning and 6.5 in the afternoon. By the time filming began, Damon had dropped over 40 pounds.

His loss did not come without health problems though. After the movie a doctor found that the stress of the extreme weight loss had caused his adrenal gland to shrink, leading to years of medication for Damon before his metabolism was back to normal. All those problems for a mere two days of filming, that’s one committed actor for you.

Damon too has acknowledged that he went too far for the role, telling Starpulse:

“I went too far. I got sick and I wouldn’t do that again because it was just too much. At the same time it helped the performance. I didn’t have to act at all – I was a wreck. I was getting dizzy spells and hot flashes. I didn’t say anything to anyone for a while because I was afraid I might be really ill.”

He may have risked his health but it certainly paid off. His dedication and performance helped him land the lead in the 1997 film The Rainmakerwhich is considered by many to be the actor’s breakout role.

Twelve years later Damon transformed for another role, but instead of slimming down he packed on the pounds to play the lead in Steven Soderberg‘s film The Informant!

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Damon gained over 30 pounds through a diet of Pizza, In-N-Out burgers, and beer. Sounds a lot more enjoyable than steamed broccoli. However, Damon said the diet and lack of exercise really started to wear on him. Thankfully for him, he didn’t start preparing for the role until after winning People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. The results of the voting may have been different had they seen the picture above.

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Jared Leto For Chapter 27

jared leto chapter 27 Beefing Up: Ten Actors Who Underwent Remarkable Physical Transformations For Their Roles

Jared Leto has played a series of very fit characters in movies such as Requiem For A Dream, Fight Club, and Prefontaine, but in 2007 audiences got to see a Leto that looked very different from what they were accustomed to.

The actor gained a whopping 60 pounds for his role as Mark David Chapman in the film Chapter 27. The effects of his weight gain led to him having to use a wheelchair due to the extra strain put on his body. Leto said it took over a year for his body to get back to feeling semi-normal, and that he isn’t sure if he will ever be as fit as he once was.

His diet? Leto frequently ate microwave pints of ice cream topped with olive oil and soy sauce. He would also frequently eat whole pizzas as one of his many daily meals. Leto said the experience was anything but enjoyable, and that he was force feeding himself to the extent that he perpetually felt as if he needed to throw up.

Despite saying he would never again make a similar transformation for a role, in an interview with Cinema Blend, he said that the work he put in really helped him to embody the person that Lennon’s killer was:

“It was important to make that transformation because I thought his physical representation of himself was an indication of who he was. And it changed everything about who I was – the way I walked , the way I talked, the way I felt about myself, the way people treated me.”

Though the movie wasn’t a critical success, Leto played the role well, and really looked the part. He was able to lose the weight in a few months by doing some extreme fasting, and he now looks about as good as he did before filming began.

Christian Bale For The Machinist

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Christian Bale is the master of becoming immersed in his roles. The weight fluctuation he has had in the last 10 years is staggering. He has weighed as much as much as 230 and as little as 121. That’s right, 121 pounds.

Bale dropped a whopping 63 pounds for his role as the insomniac factory worker in the 2004 drama The Machinist. How did he lose the weight? Through a strict diet of 275 calories a day, which he got by eating a can of tuna or an apple, that’s it.

The 6 foot actor looked barely alive at 121 pounds. He was a mere ghost of his former ripped American Psycho physique. After the film, Bale had to put on nearly 100 pounds in 5 months for Batman Begins. After all, a skinny Batman would be like a skinny Santa. He put on that weight and more, getting all the way up to 230 pounds, before actually dropping weight to play the caped crusader.

At this point, Bale had a iconic franchise character to play, for what was certainly going to be multiple movies. It would make sense that this would be the time in his career where he could adopt a normal diet and maintain his weight for a few years. Turns out that would have been much too boring for Bale though as he drastically dropped weight again (though not to Machinist levels) for his role as crack addicted Dickie Eklund in The Fighter. The academy appreciated the work he put in and his brilliant performance won him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

But wait! Bruce Wayne was never on crack, and he certainly would have no chance of standing up to Bane looking like Eklund, so the weight came back on again for The Dark Knight Rises. Now that is method acting at its finest.

As for The Machinist, it’s really a performance that has to be seen to be believed and lucky for you, we’ve included a cool little feature on the film below, for your viewing pleasure.

Check it out below.

So there you have it, ten actors who have gone through remarkable transformations. What do you think, did we miss anyone?

If you’re interested in reading more, check out Beefing Up Part 2: Ten More Actors Who Underwent Remarkable Physical Transformations For Their Roles,

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  • Christopher Martinez

    I think Vincent Regan deserves a shout out for his role in 300. His transformation to the ‘Captain’ is staggering considering where he was prior to the movie. Also, thomas jane to the punisher size was pretty impressive.

  • Ivana Cvetanovic

    Michael Fassbender also lost a lot of weight and was skin and bone in Hunger, where he played Bobby Sands on his hunger strike. Even though he lost less weight than Bale (but then again, I think Michael was already thinner than Bale was pre-Machinist) it’s pretty impressive.

    • Quick Silver

      Yes !! Fassbender ! Everybody talks about Bale when fassbender lost a lot more weight than Bale in Hunger.

      • Jason C. Wilkerson

        Fassbender lost less than half the weight for Hunger that Bale did for The Machinist. Bale actually holds the record for weight loss in a movie…

  • Sg

    Vincent D’Onofrio put on 70lbs for Full Metal Jacket……

    • M40

      I was going to add D’Onofrio, but you beat me to it!
      He’s an INCREDIBLE character actor. Whether he’s Leonard the ‘disgusting fatbody’ in Full Metal Jacket, Edgar the ‘bug’ in MIB, Orson Welles, or detective Goren in Law & Order Criminal Intent, he pulls off some amazing transformations both physically and in his acting. It’s no wonder why he’s known as “The Human Chameleon” in the film industry, and it’s a SMITE of epic proportions to have not included him in this article!

      • Mdknightman

        Not to forget that at one time D’Onofrio was buff enough that he played the garage owner in “Adventures in Babysitting” that the little girl thought was Thor.

        • Tommy James

          Thor’s a homo

    • Jessica

      Didn’t he put on some muscle for The Cell? His name came to mind when I read this list…Not just for The Cell, but also Men In Black…

  • Mark

    You missed Meryl Streep in Sophie’ choice, her greatest role, and one of the best perfomances ever.

  • Mike

    Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver?

    • Dalisa Smith

      They did cover that one.

    • BB

      Raging Bull. Amazing transformation by De Niro!

  • Daniel

    You didn’t give Bale quite enough credit:

    Gained muscle for American Psycho (2000)
    Lost weight for Reign of Fire (2002)
    Gained weight for Equilibrium (2002)
    Lost weight for The Machinist (2004)
    Gained weight for Batman Begins (2005)
    Lost weight for Rescue Dawn (2006)
    Gained weight for The Prestige (2006)
    Gained more weight for The Dark Knight (2008)
    Lost weight for Terminator Salvation (2009)
    Lost more weight for The Fighter (2010)
    Gained weight for The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

    I assume his next project will be playing a zombie. That dude’s body must hate him.

    • Spoynter

      It’s got to be one of the most impressive gains and losses in the industry.
      Here it is in an image, even more impressive when you see it.

    • Josh

      You actually have Reign of Fire and Equilibrium backwards. He went straight from Reign Of Fire, which saw him get truly beefed up for the first time in his career, to the Machinist. He lost weight for Equilibrium which had him playing a character who needed to look like he could dodge bullets.

      That said, you’re absolutely right. His body must hate him. He actually said he was done doing it after Terminator and then he signed on for The Fighter only knowing the story and not what his character looked like.

      • Daniel

        A fair correction! I only posted them in order of their release dates per IMDB, so I knew I might have fudged something up. So then, it would be more accurate to order them like this:

        Gained muscle for American Psycho (2000)
        Lost weight for Equilibrium (2002)
        Gained weight for Reign of Fire (2002)
        Lost weight for The Machinist (2004)


        • Josh

          Yes. That is correct. He didn’t lose much for Equilibrium, but he was about 10lbs heavier in Reign of Fire than American Psycho. Then he lost ~60 for Machinist, gained 100 (and then lost 15-20) for Batman Begins, lost ~60 again for Rescue Dawn (which was actually shot backward so that he could gain weight in time for TDK), gained ~60 for TDK, lost ~50 for The Fighter, and gained close to that 50 for TDKR, though he was definitely smaller there than in TDK and BB.

          It’s also worth noting that he wore bulky clothes during portions of The Prestige to hide the weight loss he did for Rescue Dawn. He got lucky that that loss didn’t really affect his face like The Machinist and The Fighter did. The man has definitely mastered his body like few others before him.

          • Daniel

            I’m still a little staggered that he got so beefy for Batman Begins that they had ask him to drop weight. I’ve always wanted to see pictures of him at that 230 weight, or Bearman as Bale called it. He must have been huge, even near Bane size…

    • Cody W

      That cant be good for you long term, would suck so bad if because of his commitment/talent for acting that he left us early..just a negative thought…lol

    • dfrieson

      His body is magnificent to put up with him. Recommend all Christian’s movies on

    • Justin Cutler

      If you watch Batman Begins Making Of, It also tells you he gained too much weight originally so he had to lose weight in a very small amount of time.

    • Timothy Wright Art

      The next role as as an AIDS patient in the dark Reagan days.

      • szore

        What does Reagan have to do with it?

        • Timothy Wright Art
          • Clarence Worley

            Reagan was a little busy saving the world from Communism and creating a booming America. Besides, It’s not like AIDS was some long known about disease. It was brand new in the 80′s not many people even knew what it was. But being an ill-informed liberal I wouldn’t expect you to know any of that. Now get back to screaming at people for driving SUVs.

          • Eduardo

            What’ u expect for a NAZI

          • Erik Baran

            A booming America…….you mean a house of cards that was the beginning of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Then collapsed. Maybe he was just busy selling coke to the contras and dealing weapons to Iran. Not to mention buddying up to Saddam by supplying him WMDs. Yeah, the world today is a direct consequence to Reagan/Bush1.

        • Timothy Wright Art
          • Clarence Worley

            Well he was no George W. Bush. The greatest AIDS fighting president ever.

  • Dave

    Brad Pitt Fight Club?

  • Haz

    No George Clooney for Syriana??

  • Leigh-Anne Dennison

    Hilary Swank immediately came to mind for her transformations for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Boys Don’t Cry.”

  • Jeremy Laughlin

    jared leto in “chapter 27″.

  • Anika

    Yes, you missed Mickey Rourk

  • Anika

    Oh, and you also forgot to mention the immortal Lon Chaney Sr.

  • winstoncdumas

    I was kind of expecting Vincent D’Onofrio on this list, for gaining more weight than Mr. De Niro in Full Metal Jacket. Then again since I’ve said it already, no need for that, haha.

    • Erik Baran

      Vincent D’Onofrio is 6’3″, De Niro is only 5’9″. Makes a difference.

  • name

    rene zellweger for bridget jones’s diary

  • Ben Weiss

    You can’t forget Emile Hirsch’s transformation for Into the Wild. By far my favorite movie.

  • carrie

    Fassbender in HUNGER

  • Madfishmonger

    Elle McPherson looked stunning after she put on weight for Sirens.

    • Khrystene

      Haha, nice one. ;)

  • HeatherSeebach

    Don’t forget Eric Bana in CHOPPER. Incredible transformation!

    • Khrystene

      Also as King Henry VIII and in Troy… he was always a scrawny runt before that.

  • Nicholas Cobraetti

    “The weight they lost may not be as much as other actors on the list, but considering it put both of them well under 100 pounds, the percent of body weight lost was extreme.”
    Mmmm…nope. Not unless they started out around 175. And really- 95 lbs is “well under” 100? Have some more Kool-Aid, pally.

    • Jason C. Wilkerson

      Considering both Kunis and Portman lost 20 lbs for the movie when they were already slender, it’s quite impressive…

  • Ceecee

    Taylor Lautner put on 30 lbs. of muscle at the age of 16 for the Twilight movies. How was that forgotten?

    • Jason C. Wilkerson

      Because Twilight should be forgotten…

    • Sonny

      Give me a break, ho.

  • Meg

    How about Daniel Day Lewis in, (well, everything) but mainly in My Left Foot?? He is beyond a method actor, he is THE method actor. He made people cart him around in a wheelbarrow for months and learned to do everything with his left foot just to play Christy Brown perfectly. At the end of it all he had lost a ton of weight and had broken multiple ribs because of how much he had contorted and not used his body during the length of filming. Insane. Love him.

    • Sonny

      He learned everything he knows from De Niro. Before Lewis, there was only De Niro in terms of method acting. Anyway, a lot of it is exaggerated.

  • Mark

    Vincent D’Onofrio packed on pounds for Full Metal Jacket, but he’d been super buff for his small part in Adventures in Babysitting.

  • Cody W

    Chicken and broccoli….got it

    • Not Given

      Same thing Tom Cruise did for The Last Samurai and Chris Hemsworth did for Thor. I’m not sure how much muscle either one put on, but I remember Cruise saying he couldn’t wear any of his shirts because his arms were too big. Let’s also not forget Linda Hamilton in T2, she trained hard for that and had an amazing amount of muscle for a woman.

      • Katherine Shambo

        YES Linda Hamilton was a great transformation and dedication to get there..I had heard she trained with Arnold to get that way! Glad you mentioned her!

      • Robert Newsom

        Cruise said that, take it with a grain of salt.

    • truthhurts

      don’t forget anabolic steroids.

  • Brad

    How about Edward Norton’s muscle gain for American History X

  • irenie86

    Adrien Brody in the pianist lost a lot of weight as well.

    • The Red Nomad

      “To prepare for his title role in The Pianist (2002), he learned to play Frédéric Chopin pieces on the piano and shed 30 pounds off his already-thin frame. He cut himself off from his real life by giving up his car and apartment because he felt responsible to those Polish Jews who had suffered greatly and wanted to connect, to some small degree, with their hurt and despair.” ( He also beefed up for playing the role of Royce in Predators.

  • Yanksfan2010

    I’m very surprised that Vincent D’Onofrio did not make the list. He gained 70 pounds for his role as Pvt. Pyle, breaking Robert De Niro’s movie weight-gain record (60 pounds) for Raging Bull. Then he was in Adventures in Babysitting where he was in great shape and lost all the weight shortly after making Full Metal Jacket.

    • idleprimate

      though, donofrio is ridiculously tall and deniro ridiculously short, so those similar numbers of pounds are very different for each of them

      • Yanksfan2010

        Except for the fact that after D’Onofrio gained all the weight for Full Metal Jacket he shortly after took it all off and put on all muscles for Adventures in Babysitting. Their is only four inches in height that separate the two of them. Vincent 6’3 Robert 5’9.

        • idleprimate

          that’s half a foot difference, not 4 inches, and it makes huge difference. i am donofrio’s height and i can gain 20lbs and it isn’t visible in any way. at 5’9″, that same 20lbs would really show. 60lbs would make me paunchy; someone deniro’s height would be obese.

        • idleprimate

          that’s half a foot difference, not 4 inches, and it makes huge difference. i am donofrio’s height and i can gain 20lbs and it isn’t visible in any way. at 5’9″, that same 20lbs would really show. 60lbs would make me paunchy; someone deniro’s height would be obese.

        • Sonny

          De Niro couldn’t even breathe! D’Onofrio is a tall fellow.

          Also, De Niro packed on muscles for the film first, THEN he gained all those pounds and lost them quickly afterwards. D’Onofrio only did the opposite.

  • Jeff Rittenour

    Damn 50!!!!!???? He lookin like Dave Cahppelle…WOW

  • Jeff Rittenour

    and what about all the weight Eddie Murphy gained to play the klumps? :)

    • barry

      not funny, quit being lame

  • MLewis

    Gotta mention Michael Fassbender again. His portrayal in Hunger had me terrified for his life in the last minutes of the film. And when you start praying for a character, you know the actor’s done an amazing job.

  • Seethlaw

    I don’t know when this list was made, but Michael Fassbender needs a place in it. (Hunger)

  • lazerdoom

    What about Rooney Mara for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)? If you look at her as compared to her role in The Social Network, you would never guess it is the same actress!

  • Curtis Evans

    I’d add Will Smith for Ali, I believe he had to do a fair bit of bulking up to convince as the boxing legend.

    • billsky

      STFU hippie

  • John

    “Tom Hardy has never been slim.” Are you fucking kidding me? Look at any pictures of him pre-Bronson and he was never bulky. That movie basically earned him a reputation for being able to gain mass for films, and since then he had to add weight for Warrior and Dark Knight Rises. Inception was filmed right after Warrior was finished, so he was still a bit bigger. His ‘normal’ look is quite thin – how he appeared in This Means War, actually. Hardy just came to U.S. recognition when he happened to be bulkier, so now people probably expect that of him. It’s worth pointing out his next film, Lawless, was filmed while he was bulking up to play Bane, so he’ll be pretty big in that, too.

    • Kipp

      Guess they never saw him in Band of Brothers, he was very scrawny in that.

  • 7LeagueBoots

    Dustin Hoffman should be on this list.

  • posterboy

    Tom Hardy has never been slim? Really? He played a heroin addict in Stuart: A Life Backwards, which came out only a year before Bronson. He was pretty skinny at that time.

    • Andrew

      He also looked pretty thin in Star Trek: Nemesis although the costume made it a little hard to tell.

      • knifesedge

        His photos from the film show his face is much thinner than he is now

  • Eleanor Peplow

    I think Vincent D’Onofrio still holds the record for weight-gain for “Full Metal Jacket.” Compare that to his Norse God look in “Adventures in Babysitting.” Those are pretty old
    movies compared to what you’ve got here, but the difference is pretty amazing. Glad I don’t have to do that!

  • Sergei

    You missed Mickey Rourke!

  • Dave Watson

    An honorable mention at least should go out to Gary Oldman. He dropped enough weight to play Sid in Sid and Nancy that he was hospitalised briefly.

    • Alex Lowe

      Oldman has had some phenomenal changes. So many movies where he is basically unrecognizable.

      • Mr B

        Thanks to accents, wigs and make-up mostly. He is great, but his face can easily be hidden.



  • Ayana Aquila Garzillo

    You totally missed Donny Walberg in the Sixth Sense! For such a small amount of screen time, his dedication to the role is one of the most amazing ever!

  • siriusstar

    I think with Christian Bale, you forgot to mention Rescue Dawn in which he had to put himself slim again (not the level of The Machinist) and put weight back on his body for the role in The Prestige.

  • Debra

    How about Adrien Brody for the Pianist?

  • Jolene Johnson-Bieber

    This entire post focuses on how a celebrity must look to fulfill a role. Why are looks so DAMN important…. It’s sad that a person should “fast” and “eat enough food to fit in the palm of your hand” ..

    • Toby

      I’m confused as to why you think that their look isn’t important. The look is a huge part of the audience getting lost in the film. And it isn’t all about fasting, as written, some actors gorged themselves. And the article has nothing to do with “celebrities” it has to do with actors who are dedicated to their craft.

  • leahblizz

    Michael Fassbender for Hunger? Anybody???

  • Courtney

    I was hoping Jared Leto would be on this list. He may not be a very famous ‘actor’ but dedicated himself to his roles and did great.

  • Bente Hoogeveen

    What about Jared Leto for ‘Chapter 27′? He gained so many pounds, just to look like that murderer of John Lennon!!

  • Sonjya

    Add Jared LETO!
    While preparing for his role as a heroin addict in the movie
    Requiem for a Dream. (2000), Jared lost 28 pounds, he starved himself. Leto admits that playing the part of Harry Goldfarb was “sadomasochistic… the hardest thing I’ve done”.
    He gained 62 lb for his latest role, playing Mark David Chapman, in Chapter 27 (2007). Then lost the weight by going on an all-liquid diet consisting of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water. He lost 20 lb in 10 days.Has been diagnosed with gout after undergoing dramatic weight loss. He packed on 62 pounds for his role in Chapter 27 (2007) [August 2006]

  • Jaimee Fricklas

    what about Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight? granted it was more a mental change than a physical one, he did put on a few pounds though. and the mental strain of the character put him on even more medication than he already was on. and if you think of how he looked in that verses in The Imaginarium of Dr Parnasiuss which came a year later; that must have taken its toll.

  • VanPastorMan

    What about Ben Kingsley in Gandhi? By the end of the film he looked sick.

  • reed

    Vincent D’Onofrio. that is all.

  • Missy

    You’re forgetting Michael Fassbender, Hunger.

  • Missy

    You’re forgetting Michael Fassbender, Hunger.

  • Sve

    Talking about Gaining weight-Loosing weight, remember Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” and Robert De Niro.
    De Niro gained about 60 pounds, to play La Motta in his later years.

  • Jan A

    One role I was always chilled by was Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Georgia,” where she had to lose weight to play the part of a drug addict … she says she was down to 89 pounds, and damn, she was convincing! Such extreme weight gain/loss isn’t healthy, of course, but I can’t help but be amazed at the dedication involved in getting into a role. On the other hand, I was always rather annoyed that Minnie Driver gained 25 pounds for “Circle of Friends” — she was pretty unknown at the time and I felt there must have been a naturally “curvy” actress who could have played the role… I’ve grown to like her since, but it bugged me at the time.

  • Erin

    Though maybe not as extreme as Christian Bale in The Machinist for the movie The Road actor Viggo Mortensen did lose quite a bit of weight. The scene with him and his son where he takes his shirt off and you see how scary skinny he is is pretty amazing.

  • Mal

    Vincent Dinofrio in Full Metal Jacket broke DeNiro’s record of 70 pounds by 10 pounds. Fuck Jared Leto, bad actor bad film

  • Sonny B

    De Niro started it all. Even during the ’70s, he went from slim, to buff, to thin, to muscular.

    He also got fat again for “The Untouchables.” Then, nearing age 50, he got ripped and had only 5% body fat for “Cape Fear.”

    No one did it like him before…

    • Khrystene

      Ah, Brando gave it a good shot!

  • Nathan Fields

    Toni Colette in “Muriel’s Wedding.” She had to balloon to play that character.
    Donnie Wahlberg in “The Sixth Sense” and “Dreamcatcher”–huge weight loss twice.
    Charlie Sheen in “Hot Shots: Part Deux”–huge muscle gain.

  • guest

    why isn’t stallone in the list

  • Brandy Wohlford

    WHERE IS DONNIE WAHLBERG? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Hasn’t anyone seen Sixth Sense… great list, but WOW- disappointing!!!

    • jessica marie

      COMPLETELY AGREE. I enjoyed this article, but Wahlberg is a glaring omission. The most talked about thing from that movie, apart from the “twist”, was how completely unrecognizable he was!!!! He lost 40 something lbs for the role. VERY surprised he’s not on here.

    • KIM

      add Dream Catcher to the Donnie Wahlberg list…I didnt know it was him!!!

    • FreedomandLiberty

      We are talking about people with acting talent that is why he is not on the list

      • Tequila

        But 50Cent is?

  • Norton231

    Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote.

  • nicolangot

    you missed out on Renee Zellweger’s weight-gain for her role as Bridget Jones. :)

  • Rebecca Ishizu Gilfillan

    You should have put Renee Zellweger because of the weight she gained lost then gained again for Birdget Jones and the sequel

  • Whotseodn

    What about Rob McElhenney from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?

  • ololo

    i want to say hello!

  • tryer25

    Best one on that list is Jared Leto. I never knew he was that guy on Chapter 27. Amazing performance by him.

  • Stormy

    I think Christian Bale bottomed out at 140 or 150lbs. Someone with his frame and height would look that skinny at that weight. I don’t believe the 121lbs. story. He would have been dead.

  • Khrystene

    You also missed out the great Toni Collette for her role in “Muriel’s Wedding”,

  • kaz

    Shelley Winters packing on a large amount of weight to play the long-ago swimming champion in “The Poseidon Adventure”.

  • Brenda C.

    You forgot Michael Fassbender in “Hunger” :)

  • DD

    You forgot about Johnny Depp in the ninth gate! He lost a lot of weight for that movie!

  • Hayley

    Loved Jared Leto in Chapter 27. Such a sad part of our history. And poor Jared really made the sacrifice—-the weight he gained to play Mark David Chapman temporarily landed him in a wheelchair—-way to suffer for your art!

  • NoGuff

    Tom Hardy has never been slender? I guess, then, its true that no one saw “Star Trek: Nemesis.”

  • gatorademebitch

    Kinda bummed Donnie Wahlberg isn’t on this list, and that silly donut 50 Cent is, considering The Sixth Sense was ya know…quite popular. :/ hate about 70% of these ‘lists’ not sure who writes them and then admits he hasn’t even seen half the movies, so most of the movies these actors slimmed down or bulked up for he probably had to use Google to find. -Sincerely, Still Hangin Tough.

    • Jessica


    • Robert Newsom

      If I hated 70% of something on a website, I would quit going there. #dumbass

  • Craig Meono

    You missed Vincent D’Onofrio – Pvt. Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket to the detective on L&O, SVU

  • Saul

    and that`s why they get payed so good

  • DK

    Guys, you have forgotten Eric Bana in “Chopper” …one of the best actors in the world.

  • stevens1

    Let’s be honest, Bale has always been a bit of a nutjob anyway, a bit TOO intense for my liking. But you can never fault his commitment to a role.

  • G

    adrien brody in the pianist vs new predator movie…

  • albalovescholo

    Vincent D’Onofrio? does he not count, because Bale broke his weight gain record, or because he is now a heavy guy, all the time?

  • Marcel Carneiro

    What about Sharon Stone for Alpha Dog?

  • RagdollRalph

    Where the fuck is Michael Fassbender in the movie Hunger, that movie made me cry he was so thing :(

  • RagdollRalph


  • Jen Tinker

    ya well now they have special effects to make actors look thin instead of risking their health like that-a new kind of “animation” was created in Breaking dawn of twilight because Bella was so thin

  • TJ Searl

    Oh for cryin’ out loud, commenters, ENOUGH about Christian Bale. The guy gets into his roles; we get it already. But I’d say you missed Ray Liotta, who put on 25 pounds for 2002′s “Narc” and began every shooting day by eating Chinese food so the sodium would keep him looking “puffy”. I would also echo the poster below and recall Linda Hamilton. If the character had appeared in a single film, it may not has been as noticeable, but her transformation from T1 to T2 was pretty staggering.

  • hank hill

    who would want to gain 60 pounds to play a scumbag jerkoff like chapman?

  • Dante

    why the hell is 50 cent even listed alongside a legend like Bale, he shouldnt be in f******** film talentless b***ch !!!!!!! stick to music (lol) fool……somebody needs to prove to the goon he aint bulletproof to stop him polluting anymore film/ games too as this is getting pathetic

  • emily t

    how about gary oldman?? he’s only one of the best actors ever, constantly the chameleon. he lost so much weight for his role as sid vicious in sid and nancy, that he landed himself in the hospital!

  • Coby147

    When Christiand Bale saw Michael Fassbender in “Hunger” he said he would NEVER do that.. that’s how much weight Fassbender lost, he was in hospital for weeks. Surely that’s got to be top of the list!

  • Doc

    Dennis Quaid – when he played Doc Holliday in 1994′s “Wyatt Earp” he shed 40lbs and began a lifelong battle with anorexia as a result.

  • Matthew Finlayson

    Sean Penn in Carlito’s Way. I don’t think there was much weight fluctuation, but it was a real visual transformation, which Brian DePalma attributes to Penn himself. I seem to recall that Christian Bale first lost weight for Reign of Fire, but after filming began, realized he had to bulk up to face-off against Matthew McConuaghy. How about John Barrymore for the silent era Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? No make-up, no weight fluctuation, just acting.

  • pyrosikth

    “Tom Hardy has never been slim”

    You’ve obviously never seen Star Trek Nemesis…

  • Rik

    Actually, method acting at its finest has to go to Daniel Day-Lewis. Not to discredit this great little article, but this is just drastic body transformation at its finest.

    • Alex Lowe

      Very true. Day-Lewis is probably the finest method actor of our time (if not ever) The dedication he puts into every role is phenomenal. I heard he was using his Lincoln accent exclusively for something like 8 months before they began filming. But I’d still say what Bale did to his body for The Machinist is the most incredible.

  • weightflux

    Was it Copland that Stallone got real fat for?

  • muscleman

    chris evans captain america

  • knifesedge

    Disagree about Tom Hardy never being thin. Star Trek Nemesis?

  • Luna

    Tobey maguire in “brothers” 2009

  • Kyle4

    All of that weight loss can’t be good for Christian Bale, I hope he doesn’t have heart problems later in life. His performances are incredible though and will be remembered for a long time come.

  • Nnenna

    Is this for only d males.wat of Renee zewellger.she added extra pounds for Bridget jonesvdiary

  • Martin Majestad

    Christian Bale is absolutely epic, I remember when I saw a interview about The machinist, the interviewer ask to him how did he become so thin and he answer something like “I didn’t eat”. Obeisances.
    The example about Bane sucks, because Tom Hardy wasn’t even de 10% of the real Bane.

  • Lasse Vesa

    Michael Fassbender Hunger!!!!

  • Mary Novelli

    James Woods lost weight for his role in the TV mini series Holocaust. He was so thin I know he was close to starvation. I have remembered this for many years. I think it was filmed in the early 80′s.

  • James Reaven

    you all forget Benicio Del Toro in fear and loathing in las vegas he gained weight and never even lost it over the years

  • @_samuel_wells

    What about Renee Zellwegger? In 2000, she gained 20lbs for the role of Bridget Jones, and then in 2001 she dropped down to a size 6 (from a size 14) to play Roxie Hart.

  • Cooper

    Missy Peregrym transformed her body for her role, as a gymnast, in the movie Stick It.

  • sam houson

    Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild…. lost 41 pounds

  • Lyn Williams

    Tobey Maguire between Seabiscuit and Spider Man. He lost a lot of weight for Seabiscuit then had to put back on weight to do Spiderman 2. I think it was reported that he had a serious back injury because of the hard work in filming and the weight flux.

  • Tor

    Missed renee zellweger

  • Jessica Szabo Jimenez

    every time i see these list I never see Donnie Wahlberg. He lost a lot of weight for dream catcher and the sixth sense. I didn’t even know it was him in sixth sense until i was looking up his movies.

  • Marissa Evans

    Aw, you left out Andy Serkis for Sex and Drugs and Rock & Roll. To get the limp, he actually worked out one side of his body more than the other.

  • Bob

    You said Tom Hardy has “never been slim” so I’m guessing you didn’t see him in the HBO show Band of Brothers, he couldn’t have been more than 140 pound in that. Skinny little SOB

  • Badre El Amir Bally

    No props for Stallone who put on weight to do Copland? I thought he gave a pretty good dramatic performance in that film

  • Gina Gregory

    Not even a mention for Chris Lloyd’s weight gain for playing Uncle Fester in the Addams Family movies.

  • Tyra

    Defo not good for his health, hes an excellent actor still…but why not just find a skinny actor to do the role??

  • John Shaner

    every time i read an article about this subject (and i’ve read a few) one person is always left out…Benicio Del Toro in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. he gained somewhere between 40 and 50 lbs!! always overlooked for a damn good performance that usually gets overshadowed by how good johnny depp is in that film.

  • Animation Gal

    Emile Hirsch lost some 41 lbs for “In to the Wild”, a project that was physically grueling in many ways.

  • Animation Gal

    Oh and what about Gerard Butler for 300 as Leonidas? He put on 200 lbs of pure muscle by following an excruciating workout routine with more than 3 trainers.

  • Sanah

    Taylor lautner should be up there..

  • Jonathan Seitz

    Screw Matt Damon

  • J

    You say “Tom Hardy has never been slim”… however that is incorrect, he was skinny when he was a teenager, and even when he was in Star Trek he was a small lad

  • Pip

    Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables. Dedication.

  • livinginstereo

    tom hardy looks like the transsexual porn star buck angel in the photo
    for the film warrior. he could play shim if they ever made a biopic.

  • drew

    This is crazy. Very hard on the body

    Montgomery triangle is awesome!

  • Kyle S.

    What about Hugh Jackman? He had to get EXTREMELY fit to play Jean Valjean. He lifted a pole that weighed over 500 lbs! He deserves some serious credit!

  • barblibrarian

    Just a thought – if the role calls for a fatter person, why don’t they simply cast a heavier person instead of having these people risk their health? Seriously – there are heavier people out there who can act. I find this article very depressing. Why isn’t body type considered in casting? For example – why cast someone like Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones, when there were dozens of heavier British actresses who could have played the part very well? I actually was not impressed with her in the role, and could not quite understand why two such gorgeous hunks would fight over her.

  • SandyCheeks

    Adrien Brody lost a lot of weight for The Pianist. He was on a strict diet of green tea and egg whites (or maybe hard boiled eggs?). E! did a special a few years ago.

  • JoAndra

    My immediate thought was, ‘No role is worth risking my health.’ I guess after having been anorexic years ago, I would feel this way.

  • Adz

    Did anyone ever see Eric Banna in Chopper? Now that is some serious weight gain for a role… Tidy little flick too, i might add!

  • RyanBritishSteelWhitelaw

    You definitely missed Chris Hemsworth for Thor/Avengers.

  • Doc

    What about Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone?

  • Doc Holliday

    You forgot Val Kilmer for Tombstone and Dennis Quaid for Wyatt Earp. They both lost a great deal of weight to portray a consumptive (tubercular) Doc Holliday… Quaid’s loss was quite impressive… Although Kilmer did a much better Doc Holliday.

  • akChris20

    Michael Fassbender for Hunger

  • schniebem

    I think Mathew Mcconaughey deservs some credit for reign of fire and Edward Norton for American history X.

    • Alex Lowe

      Check out part 2 to see about Norton!

  • rachel r

    Taylor Lautner for New Moon

  • rachel r

    taylor lautner…nine months between pics

  • LB East

    This movie is a masterpiece of psychological terror, and as such, very difficult and unnerving to watch. If you doubt this extraordinary actor’s commitment, see him as a kid in Spielberg’s ‘Empire of the Sun’ — simply extraordinary–and if not for Bale, definitely just another shade of grey, even with Malkovich.

  • anAmericanByChoice

    My favs: de Niro for Raging Bull and Slater for The Machinist. Not only body changes but superb acting and the movies are beautifully shot and edited!

  • anAmericanByChoice

    My favs: de Niro for Raging Bull and Slater for The Machinist. Not only body changes but superb acting and the movies are beautifully shot and edited!

  • Kat

    You missed Ryan Gosling’s weight transformation for Lars and the Real Girl and then for The Lovely Bones