Six Stunning Actor Transformations for Films

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Jake La Motta, an emotionally self-destructive boxer's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring, destroys his life outside it.
Photo Credit: Paramount Classics
March 18th, 2014

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Actors regularly push their bodies to the limits to put on a great performance. Sometimes, this demanding job includes drastic weight changes for them to better fit into a role. Whether it involves losing or gaining weight, these feats of change require huge amounts of self-control, support and health check-ups. The following six actors experienced some of the most dramatic weight changes in film history.

 

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Christian Bale

Bale changes his weight regularly for films. For "American Psycho," he bulked up by working out three hours a day, six days a week. Four years later, in "The Machinist," he lost an astounding 63 pounds, leaving him with only 121 pounds on his 6 foot frame. His dramatic weight loss was managed with a strict diet of coffee, an apple and water each day.

For "Batman Begins," released a year after "The Machinist," Bale regained the weight and then some with a strict workout regimen that bulked him up properly to play the Dark Knight. After that, he went back and forth between bulking and stripping the pounds for various roles. By this point, he was an expert at changing his physique. He gained 40 pounds for the 2013 movie "American Hustle." This time, a diet of cheeseburgers and other fatty foods helped him gain the weight.

 

 

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Jared Leto

When cast for the role of John Lennon's killer in "Chapter 27," Leto gained an impressive 67 pounds. His list of foods that helped him gain such an astonishing amount included junk food classics, such as pizza, ice cream and pasta. The actor and musician also admitted that he did at times mix olive oil and soy sauce to get an appropriately bloated look. It took him roughly a year to get back to his normal weight afterward, and he suffered gout and high cholesterol from the ordeal.

More recently, Leto lost roughly 30 to 40 pounds for his role in "The Dallas Buyers Club." While no specific diet information was given out, he admitted to taking the unhealthy route of simply not eating or eating very little to get down to below 120 pounds for the role.

 

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Tom Hanks

The film "Cast Away" required Hanks to go through a couple of significant body changes. First, he gained some weight to get a slightly pudgy look for the first portion of the film by adding to his diet. After these scenes were filmed, the entire production of the movie was halted for a year to allow the star to lose roughly 50 pounds to get an appropriately skeletal, castaway look. He reportedly did this with a diet consisting of low portions of relatively healthy foods, including fish and vegetables, with a low carbohydrate intake.

 

 

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Robert de Niro

Robert de Niro gained a whopping 60 pounds for his role in "Raging Bull." This extra weight gain was only needed for a small portion of the movie, but his dedication led him to go for it. To gain the weight quickly and effectively, he binge ate his way through Italy and France, both countries that are famous for their delicious, if not quite healthy, cuisine.

 

 

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50 Cent

This famous rapper lost 50 pounds to play in the film "All Things Fall Apart," a difficult action for an actor as bulky with muscles as 50 Cent. He avoided heading to the doctor while losing the weight, reluctant to see anyone who would try to reverse the process, and used his own methods to lose the weight. Running to suppress his appetite, going on a liquid diet and working out in a gym for roughly three hours every day helped him lose the large amount of weight in only two months.

 

 

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Natalie Portman

Portman's weight loss for "Black Swan" was only around 20 pounds, but on her already slender 5 foot 3 inch frame it made her look almost scarily skinny. A very strict, low-calorie diet that stayed below 1,000 calories per day helped her lose the weight to play the skeletal ballerina. In addition, she worked and practiced for six months to get the skills necessary to accurately portray the character. After the film was finished shooting, she started eating carbohydrates in an attempt to regain the lost weight.

These actors are all extremely dedicated to their craft, putting their bodies on the line to be as true to their characters as possible. Fat suits and photo editing are not enough for these artists, whose dedication to their roles is taken to the extreme of what a body can handle.