When we think of actors and actresses, the first thing that might come to mind is a favorite movie or show they starred in. Most people don’t realize the countless hours some actors spend in the gym, have makeup applied, or how they have to say goodbye to some foods so they can properly embody a character.
Chris Hemsworth gained 30 pounds of muscle for Thor, and Jered Leto lost 40 pounds for Dallas Buy Club. Then, they turned it all around and starred in movies with a completely different body type. It’s crazy! Keep scrolling to learn about some intense transformations actors went through for the sake of entertainment.
Anne Hathaway In Les Misérables
During her preparation for the 2012 musical Les Misérables, actress Anne Hathaway went through mental, emotional, and physical strain to nail her part as Fantine. Although her character isn’t in the film for all that long, Hathaway makes her presence well-known, emotional, and raw.
It’s hard to miss the absence of that long brown hair that tends to be a staple of Hathaway’s. Instead of opting for a wig, the actress shaved her head. Yup, the scene where her hair is being shorn away is happening in real-time. Hathaway also deprived herself of all things yummy to get her skeletal frame.
Jake Gyllenhaal In Nightcrawler
Typically, Jake Gyllenhaal is filled out for his roles, or, at least, he looks very healthy. That couldn’t have been further from the truth for his part in Nightcrawler. In the film, Gyllenhaal plays a sadistic cameraman who finds pleasure in setting up horrific crimes for the sole purpose of being the first on the scene to capture the story.
To prepare for the role of Louis Bloom, Gyllenhaal decided to lose an astronomical amount of weight, running 15 miles a day and cutting out most foods. The result: a skeletal and scary-looking character that was the perfect fit for the film.
Renée Zellweger In Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Renée Zellweger won the hearts of many with her role as quirky author Bridget Jones. In the second installment, viewers find her as a television host, with her pleasant demeanor and interesting life as complex as ever. But the most fascinating transformation that occurred for the second film wasn’t the character, but the actress.
For Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Zellweger gained 30 pounds! For a person who is fairly petite, that is no small feat! In an interview, Zellweger said that in order to gain the weight she gave up exercising.
Christian Bale In American Hustle
Christian Bale is known for his method acting and taking his roles very seriously. For the film American Hustle, things were no different as he prepared to play the New York con man role of Irving Rosenfeld. While getting ready to take on the character, Bale did a bit more than just memorize his lines.
By the time filming came around, Bale had gained a total of 42 pounds! That’s right; there’s no fat suit underneath the striped button-down. On top of the weight gain, Bale also decided a wig wasn’t going to cut it, shaving part of his head for Rosenfeld’s horrific comb-over.
Taryn Manning In Orange Is The New Black
To get into character for Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett, Taryn Manning initially had a tough time. The actress is usually typecast as the “troubled girl.” So when she landed the role of the addict inmate, she was skeptical about how people would react to her as a person. Thankfully, she was able to distance herself from the character once her makeup was applied.
Makeup artists applied a waterproof-based makeup to her teeth, making them all blacked out and pointed. The transformation really brought Manning into her hard-substance abusing character, and it’s nothing short of amazing.
Chris Hemsworth In Thor
Chris Hemsworth is known to be the good-looking Australian guy (who usually has an American accent) in most films he’s in. But before he played the Norse God of Thunder, Thor, Hemsworth’s body type skewed closer to the lean muscle of a surfer and less toward the huge biceps of a powerlifter.
To prepare for his role as one of the Avengers, Hemsworth packed on 20 pounds of pure muscle. The actor said that to gain the muscle, he ate non-stop and began lifting weights for the first time, something that he had to learn since his main outlet for exercise had always been surfing.
Emile Hirsch In Into The Wild
The movie Into the Wild features some of Emile Hirsch’s best work. He easily takes on the role of Chris McCandless, a recent college graduate who donates his savings to charity and rids himself of worldly possessions to set out on an exploration of the Alaskan wilderness.
For Hirsch, that meant he had to lose some weight. Typically, the actor weighs around 160, but he dropped down to 130 to accurately portray McCandless’s body during the hard exploration. Then, during the time where McCandless falls very ill, Hirsch lost an additional 15 pounds!
Jonah Hill In Maniac
With a big break like Superbad, it’s no wonder Jonah Hill quickly became known as the chubby funny kid in films. That is until the mini-series Maniac came to Netflix. Hill played the role of Owen Milgrim, a man suffering from schizophrenia and in pursuit of a “fix-it” substance to make the illness go away.
Although the actor is no stranger to weight loss and gain for various roles, this is the slimmest viewers have seen him. During an interview with The Sun, Hill admitted to calling former co-star Channing Tatum for some weight-loss tips. Long story short, Tatum told Hill to diet and get a trainer.
Christian Bale In The Machinist
The Machinist follows the story of Trevor Reznik, an insomniac who goes into a downward spiral of depression and delusions after being fired from his job. As fans of Christian Bale know, the actor puts his all into transforming his body for roles.
Four months prior to filming, Bale went on a strict daily diet of water, an apple, and a cup of coffee. The 55-260 calories he was consuming left the six-foot actor down 63 pounds, at a weight of 120. It’s been said that Bale wanted to get his body mass as low as 99 pounds, but the filmmakers stopped him due to health concerns.
Chris Pratt In Guardians Of The Galaxy
Known for playing the lovable yet goofy Andy Dwyer on the hit series Parks and Recreation, Chris Pratt never thought he would land a leading role in an action film, let alone a Marvel movie. That all changed when director James Gunn decided he was perfect for the role of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord.
Pratt was used to fluctuating his weight for various roles, but his character before Guardians had him a bit too round to play an intergalactic superhero. To prepare for the role, Pratt hit the gym and dieted, losing 60 pounds before filming began.
Matt Damon In Courage Under Fire
In Courage Under Fire, Matt Damon takes on the role of Specialist Ilario, a medic during the 1991 Gulf War. His role is to discuss the heroism of Captain Walden, a soldier who fell while her team was trying to evacuate the crew of a downed helicopter.
To get into the role of the troubled character, Damon lost a substantial amount of weight. Typically, the actor weighs around 190, so losing the 60 pounds he did for the film made a huge impact on his appearance.
Charlize Theron In Monster
Beautiful and talented Charlize Theron transformed into the monster she portrayed in the critically acclaimed film Monster. To get into the character of the lady of the night turned serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Theron took it upon herself to make some changes to her appearance.
Not only did Theron put on 20 pounds, but the actress also decided to shave parts of her eyebrows, giving her a more sinister look. The transformation is so startling that many people fail to recognize the actress until the film’s credits roll.
Ewan McGregor In Fargo
While Ewan McGregor is known for playing an array of different characters, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Christopher Robin, he tends to look like himself, for the most part. Then, there’s Fargo, where his appearance couldn’t have been more different than his typical aesthetic.
To get into character to play Emmit and Ray Stussy during the third season of Fargo, McGregor pulled out all the stops. He shaved his normal hairline way back and also put on a few pounds, ultimately making his appearance something else altogether.
Natalie Portman In Black Swan
Natalie Portman is known for being a beautifully talented actress, starring in more movies than we can count. But Black Swan brought a whole new level of artistry to her acting, mainly in the form of her transformation into the character Nina.
Being a talented professional ballet dancer took some dedication. So, six months before filming, Portman underwent rigorous training each day, including ballet fundamentals and cardio, so she had the same body-type of a stereotypical dancer. She was also put on a strict 1,200 calorie diet, making it so her character looked a bit more malnourished as she descended into madness.
Jared Leto In Dallas Buyers Club
Dallas Buyers Club wasn’t short on actor transformations, and Jared Leto’s character was no exception. Leto plays transexual substance abuser Rayon. Oh, and the character happens to have AIDS and joins forces with Ron Woodroof to sell other patients’ experimental treatments.
To prepare for the role of a sick addict, Leto thought it best to lose some weight. In an interview with The Wrap, Leto admitted to not eating, so he was able to lose 30 to 40 pounds for the role of Rayon.
Naomi Grossman In American Horror Story
Naomi Grossman took on the role of childlike criminal Pepper in the hit anthology series American Horror Story. The character first appeared in the second season, Asylum, where viewers couldn’t really put a finger on what the actress actually looked like in real life.
As it turns out, Grossman underwent three hours of makeup each day she filmed for the show! The long process included prosthetic ears, buck teeth, and Naomi even shaved her head so they could put the tiny ponytail on top. Talk about commitment to a role.
Tom Hardy In Bronson
Being one of the most brutal inmates is going to take a toll on the body, as it did for Tom Hardy when he took the role of the title character in Bronson. The film follows Bronson as he is sentenced to time in solitary confinement again and again after starting fights with fellow prisoners, guards, and even a dog.
Needless to say, Hardy had to pack on the muscle to prepare for the role of a tough prison inmate facing seven-plus years. To gain the amount of muscle he did for the character, Hardy went through a vigorous workout regime prior to filming.
Joaquin Phoenix In Joker
Joaquin Phoenix took the world by storm when he came out of the ashes and transformed into Arthur Fleck, aka Joker. Viewers watched as Fleck descended into madness, slowly but surely becoming the Joker as the movie progressed. But the question is how Phoenix was able to transform into such a complex character.
Phoenix has said it all started with his weight loss. The actor mentioned that because he lost 52 pounds in such a short amount of time, it had a psychological effect, one that he used to his advantage to play the character of Fleck. Obviously, the transformation was nothing short of spectacular.
Matthew McConaughey In Dallas Buyers Club
Matthew McConaughey has played the intense boy next door, bad boy, or love interest in quite a few rom-coms. But he tackled an entirely new type of beast with his role of Ron Woodroof in the Dallas Buyers Club. For this role, he had to say goodbye to his lean surfer body and say hello to a skinnier frame.
For his role as a reluctant AIDS patient, McConaughey dropped a total of 40 pounds. During an interview with Access Hollywood, the actor said, “I ate a lot of fish, but only five ounces of it, and then a cup of vegetables, twice a day.”
J.K. Simmons In Whiplash
If J.K. Simmons has an ounce of anger in his body, he let it all loose in the film Whiplash. Simmons plays an angry, mean, and downright abusive jazz conductor at one of the best music schools around. But to get into the raging Terrence Fletcher character, Simmons has to let go of his television Farmers Insurance persona and unleash the beast within.
For the role, Simmons put on a lot of muscle mass. Which makes sense, considering Fletcher thinks its a good idea to throw chairs at his students if they mess up a song.
Jared Leto In Chapter 27
Jared Leto is another actor who is known for embodying his characters in an entirely different way. For Chapter 27, Leto plays mentally disturbed Mark David Chapman, the man who ultimately assassinated musician John Lennon. But gaining the weight to portray the deranged man was no easy feat.
To add an extra 67 pounds to his otherwise healthy body, Leto would drink microwaved pints of ice cream mixed with olive oil and soy sauce every night. Wow, this is yet another example of his serious dedication to acting.
Taylor Lautner In The Twilight Saga: New Moon
After being pegged for the awkward skinny kid in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, Taylor Lautner had something to prove to the female population. He did so by becoming the broody werewolf Jacob Black in the Twilight saga, specifically New Moon.
In order to get the sculpted body of Black, Lautner went through a very strict diet and workout regime that left him gaining 30 pounds of muscle in one year. That’s a lot of poundage for a guy who was only a teenager at the time of filming.
Rooney Mara In The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Rooney Mara went under an extreme makeover: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo edition. To get into the character of Lisbeth Salander, Mara was put into the hands of a costume designer, hairstylist, and makeup artist who completely changed her timeless good looks into something unrecognizable.
To prepare for the role, Mara shaved most of her head, with the remaining locks dyed jet black, bleached her eyebrows, so they looked nonexistent, and had a few new piercings added to her face. Yup, that lip, eyebrow, nose, and septum piercing are totally real.
Chris Hemsworth In In The Heart Of The Sea
Considering that Chris Hemsworth is well known for having some muscle definition, especially when playing a Norse God, it was shocking to see his transformation for the film In the Heart of the Sea. In the movie, Hemsworth’s character Owen Chase, along with his fellow crewmen, is attacked at sea by a gigantic whale. Ultimately, their ship is destroyed and they are lost at sea, fighting to stay alive.
To completely encompass the look of a sea-stranded man, Hemsworth dropped a total of 33 pounds. He told Good Morning America that the weight loss process took a toll on both his body and his mental well-being.
Zac Efron In Baywatch
After his transformation into a Baywatch lifeguard, it’s safe to say Zac Efron is no longer a lanky teen heartthrob trying to figure out if he should play basketball or sing. But transforming his body into a bodybuilding lifeguard was no easy task. We mean, he had to keep up with The Rock, after all!
According to Efron’s trainer, the actor was able to reach five percent body fat in just 12 weeks. That’s literally insane! He was also put on a very strict diet consisting of extremely low-carb foods and a whole lot of organic foods.
50 Cent In All Things Fall Apart
All Things Fall Apart follows the story of Deon, a promising football star who battles a deadly disease through his senior year. So, 50 Cent had to go through all of the stages of what a stereotypical cancer patient would look like.
First, he looked healthy, then slowly but surely, the rapper lost a substantial amount of weight. Altogether, 50 Cent lost 54 pounds in order to accurately portray a sick man, going from a solid 214 to 160 in a short six weeks. He chalks the rapid weight loss up to a liquid diet and running for three hours each day.
Tom Hanks In Cast Away
Cast Away is a very well-known movie in Tom Hanks’ extensive catalog. But to bring the castaway FedEx executive Chuck Noland to life, Hanks had to undergo a very rigorous transformation. While the actor was in shape, production shot all of the scenes that were not on the island. Then, they took a year off for a very specific reason.
To look like a person stranded on an island, Hanks integrated a very strict diet and workout regime into his life, shedding 55 pounds in just four months. Taking it a step further, he didn’t shave or cut his hair, making him look like a true castaway.
Edward Norton In American History X
Playing such a serious role such as Derek Vinyard in American History X is bound to take a toll on even the most experienced of actors. It was no different for Edward Norton. Not only did he have to deal with tough content on a day-to-day basis, but he also had to make the character of an ex-white supremacist, who changed his ways after being in jail, convincing.
He did the role justice. But to prepare, Norton went through some demanding transformations. The actor spent countless hours at the gym, amounting to 30 pounds of muscle, and had to make it so his character’s personality was something people could empathize with.
Ryan Reynolds In Blade: Trinity
Stepping out of the goofy boy-next-door roles, Ryan Reynolds transformed in his first-ever superhero film Blade: Trinity. In the film, Reynold’s plays rogue vampire hunter Hannibal King alongside Jessica Biel. And in order to prepare for his role as a vampire slayer, Reynolds had to get in tip-top shape.
To get a vampire hunting physique, Reynolds hit the gym hard. The result was a solid 25-pound muscle gain that he decided to stick with even after Blade: Trinity wrapped up.
Tom Cruise In Tropic Thunder
Unlike some other actors, Tom Cruise didn’t spend countless hours eating all of the junk food he could get his hands on, but that doesn’t make his transformation into Les Grossman any less amazing. For the role of the sleazy game show host in Tropic Thunder, Cruise was in the capable hands of producer Ben Stiller. Even though Stiller had the last say, Cruise had a few recommendations for his character.
Before accepting the role, Cruise made it known that he wanted his character to have fat fingers and for Grossman to dance. That, topped with a fat suit, hairy chest, and a bald cap, Cruise is virtually unrecognizable!