Audiences expect a lot out of movies. So, when a role calls for an extreme type of body, most actors are usually willing to go the distance and change their physique. Most of the time, this requires major weight loss.
Regardless of whether an actor is getting ready to be a superhero or someone who is sick, actors sometimes take things to the extreme when they are preparing for a role. They go on extreme diets, take up some unhealthy habits, and lose weight more quickly than they probably should.
Being an actor in Hollywood comes along with a high standard. If a director, writer, or producer wants an actor to lose weight, there’s no question that the actor will most likely do it. Even if an actor is at a healthy weight already, they’ll make themselves an unhealthy weight if they think the role is worth the effort and risk.
From young actors to old, there are plenty of well-known A-list actors who have gone the distance when it comes to losing weight for a movie. There are even plenty of well-known actors who have lost so much weight for just a single role on the big screen.
Here are the 15 Actors Who Lost A Lot Of Weight For Only One Role.
15. Chris Hemsworth – Heart of the Sea
While you might instantly recognize Chris Hemsworth as Thor, he’s also a pretty renowned actor and has done a lot of work in the past. When he was cast in the 2015 film In the Heart of the Sea, the actor had to lose all of the muscle that he had gained as Thor in order to prepare himself for the new role.
Directed by Ron Howard, In the Heart of the Sea is based on the real story of a whaling ship being sunk by a giant whale. It’s the tale that actually inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick. The movie also starred Dunkirk’s Cillian Murphy and Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Tom Holland.
Hemsworth lost 33 pounds in just four weeks for the role due to back-to-back scheduling with Avengers: Age of Ultron. He did this by only eating 500 calories a day. During that time, he says that he only ate boiled eggs, salad, “and nothing else.”
14. Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy
Most fans were introduced to Chris Pratt when he starred on Parks and Recreation. Back in the beginning of the show, he was known as the silly, somewhat pudgy, fun guy. He also specifically gained weight for that role.
However, hings changed when Pratt snagged the role of Peter Quill (aka Star Lord) in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. In order to prepare for the film, Pratt lost 60 pounds in just six months.
Pratt, who was close to 300 pounds at his heaviest, was paired up with a trainer to help him bulk up (and slim down) for the part. He also quit drinking alcohol, specifically beer.
Since he was still on the show at the time, Parks and Recreation made fun of Chris Pratt’s weight loss. Andy, portrayed by Chris Pratt, tells Adam Scott’s Ben that he lost fifty pounds in one month just by no longer drinking beer.
13. Matt Damon – Courage Under Fire
Before he became the second youngest Oscar winning screenwriter of all time for Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon was just like any other struggling actor. He had minimal roles in some forgettable movies. Then, he nabbed the role of Ilario in Courage Under Fire.
The movie starred Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan, and Matt Damon had a supporting role, but it required him to lose a lot of weight. He claims that a good and healthy weight for him is around 190 pounds, but that he was only 139 pounds for the movie.
Damon lost 60 pounds for the role by making up his own diet. The diet consisted of eating only one food every day. That food item ended up being chicken breast.
12. Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Black Swan certainly changed Natalie Portman’s life. The actress has grown up in the spotlight and is known for many beloved films, including Garden State and the Star Wars franchise.
However, if it weren’t for Black Swan, her life would be completely different. Portman ended up marrying Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed the dances in Black Swan, and the couple now have two kids together.
Due to all the dancing and the body type of a dancer that needed to be depicted in the film, Portman ended up losing 20 pounds for the role. The already tiny Portman ended up becoming smaller than anyone thought possible.
Portman lost the weight by eating barely anything on a daily basis. She would snack on carrots and almonds, then spend eight hours in dance rehearsals. She lost so much weight, in fact, she ended up worrying that the demands of the role might actually be life-threatening.
11. Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
For the 2012 movie Mud Matthew McConaughey had to portray a man who was a wanted fugitive, surviving off the land. He bulked up, only to follow that film with Dallas Buyers Club, a movie where he had to portray a man diagnosed with AIDS, and went on to win an Oscar for his role.
McConaughey lost 38 pounds for the role. While he says he did cardio to help him slim down, he says that most of his weight loss had to deal with diet. He claims that 90% of weight loss comes from diet, therefore the actor chose to eat barely anything in preparation for the film.
The diet of basically not eating resulted in McConaughey losing the capability to eat large meals for awhile.
While the actor dreamed of eating cheeseburgers, he said he wouldn’t have been able to actually eat more than half of one if he tried. He also said that he became overly sluggish and had a major lack of energy.
10. Lilly James – Cinderella
Lilly James was already as thin as a stick when she appeared in Downtown Abbey. Fast forward to when she portrayed the main character in the Disney live-action Cinderella, though, and her body became even tinier.
The role of Cinderella required James to wear a corset. However, the corset would be so tight that she wasn’t able to eat, as it affected her digestion.
Since she had to stay in costume all day, she essentially starved herself so that she could keep working within the corset.
While the amount of weight James ended up at in the end isn’t officially known, the actress does claim that she went on an all-liquid diet during production in order to wear the corset. The result? Her waist ended up looking unnaturally tiny.
9. Adam Driver – Silence
Adam Driver got his start on the HBO series Girls. His career has progressed a lot since then, and now you’ll probably recognize him most as Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
For the 2016 film Silence, Driver was asked by director Martic Scorsese to lose weight. The already slim actor ended up losing 30 pounds before production began, then another 20 pounds during the course of the film.
Driver is no stranger to working hard to build muscle as he is a military veteran. However, he wasn’t so used to the diet part that came with losing weight. He says it was one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.
In order to keep his energy up and his weight down, Driver took things to the extreme and started taking water pills in order to finish the film.
8. Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
Anne Hathaway became one of America’s least liked actresses after she came off as pretentious and ungrateful during her speech after winning best supporting actress at the Oscars for her role in Les Miserables.
In the movie, Hathaway portrayed Fantine. Besides shaving her head for the role, the actress also lost a total of 25 pounds for the film. She lost 10 pounds before the movie, but then lost an additional 15 pounds during filming.
Before the movie started filming, Hathaway put herself on a cleanse. She wanted to look as desperate and starved as Fantine was supposed to be. During the movie, however, the actress took things even farther.
Hathaway decided that she needed to be more extreme and show how desperate Fantine was by becoming small and frail herself. The actress would only eat two squares of oatmeal paste every day. She practically starved herself for the role.
7. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Jake Gyllenhaal has been around for awhile. The Oscar-nominated actor has been in some major films, including Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain, and The Day After Tomorrow.
As producer and star of the film Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal challenged himself into loosing thirty pounds for the role.
The character he was portraying was supposed to “always be hungry,” both literally and figuratively. Gyllenhaal took this characteristic to the extreme.
Gyllenhaal would eat as little calories as he possibly could handle in order to lose the weight. Those around him said that he was always grumpy and aggravated, though Gyllenhaal would apologize and blame his hunger as the reasoning.
6. Lily Collins – To the Bone
Lily Collins has made a name for herself in Hollywood. As the daughter of successful singer Phil Collins, Lily has finally come into hew own as an actress.
Recently, Collins starred in the Netflix original movie To the Bone, where she portrayed a young woman battling anorexia. The show and Collins came under a lot of fire when she lost weight for the role, with audiences saying that not every anorexic person is as tiny as she was.
The exact amount of weight Collins lost is unknown. However, she went through a major diet in order to look both unhealthy and overly thin.
The biggest problem and danger with Collins loosing so much weight for the role is that she has a history of eating disorders.
The actress went through her own battle of anorexia and bulimia, which is probably why she wanted to do the film and bring awareness of the subject in the first place. However, most should know that dieting is a dangerous thing for anyone who has battled an eating disorder.
5. Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Jared Leto starred opposite Matthew McCounaughey is Dallas Buyers Club. The actor/singer was no stranger for weight changes for roles.
Having lost weight for Prefontaine, and then gaining weight for Chapter 27, the Suicide Squad star was no stranger to loosing/gaining weight.
Leto portrayed Rayon in the film, a trans woman who is addicted to drugs. Leto wanted to drop a lot of weight for the role, so he didn’t eat for quite some time before the movie started shooting.
While 30 pounds might not seem like a lot of weight, it was for Leto. The actor slimmed down to 116 pounds by the time shooting started.
Leto, who is known for going to the extreme when preparing for a role, says that the diet changed everything about him.
4. Liam Neeson – Silence
Martin Scorsese demanded a lot from his cast when it came to the film Silence. This meant that well-known Liam Neeson needed to become smaller.
This resulted in the actor, who is best known for his roles in Love Actually and Taken, becoming overly frail and sickly looking.
Many were worried about the way Liam Neeson looked while on his diet. The actor lost less weight than his other cast mates, but his change was a lot more obvious. Loosing twenty pounds for the role, Neeson was regularly questioned about his weight.
Neeson credits Adam Driver for pushing the limit. He says that Driver committed the most out of everyone. However, being younger and more of a newbie in Hollywood, less people cared about him than about Neeson.
3. Mila Kunis – Black Swan
While Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her role in Black Swan, Mila Kunis didn’t even get nominated that year. With that said, the That 70’s Show actress went just as hard as Portman did when it came to dieting for the role.
Kunis recalls dieting for the movie as being pure “awful” and utterly difficult. The actress, who is only 5’4″, ended up slimming down to only 95 pounds.
While Portman essentially starved herself, Kunis ate 1,200 calories a day. That being said, she also took up a smoking habit that was horribly bad for her health.
The one thing that Portman and Kunis had in common was that they both trained ridiculously hard for the movie. Kunis reportedly trained every day for three months straight in preparation for the film.
2. Tom Hanks – Cast Away
As America’s sweetheart, Tom Hanks had already become a household name. Having won Oscars, starred in some of the best films of his time, and being a generally great guy, everyone loved him.
Hanks stared as Chuck in the movie Cast Away. He portrayed a FedEx worker who becomes stranded on a dessert island and must attempt to survive on his own.
Of course, this role required Hanks to appear as though he had no resources and no source of real nourishment, being stranded and all.
Hanks was used to changing his appearance already, though, after having put on 30 pounds for the 1992 movie A League of Their Own.
Hanks ended up losing 50 pounds for Cast Away. Later in life, he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. He blames himself for it, saying that having a continuously changing waist line was probably the cause of it.
1. Christian Bale – The Machinist
Most people know about The Machinist more because of the weight Christian Bale lost, rather than the movie itself.
The actor who is best known for being Batman in Christopher Nolan’s movies revolving around the comic book hero, Bale has been known for taking himself very seriously. So, of course, he lost sixty pounds for his role in The Machinist.
Originally, the role was supposed to be given to a much shorter actor in order for the character to look smaller. Bale is six feet tall, but he wanted the role, so he lost a lot of weight to prove that he was worthy of it and that he can look small too.
Bale ended up getting as low as almost 120 pounds by the time the movie ended. Unfortunately, he needed to gain weight for Batman Begins right afterwards and ended up eating his weight in pizza and ice cream to do so.
Do you know of any other actors who have lost a lot of weight for just one role? Let us know in the comments!
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