It's becoming increasingly common in Hollywood - arguably because of the glut of superhero movies - for actors to undergo tough workouts and extreme body transformations in order to prepare for certain roles. From famous examples such as Christian Bale losing weight for The Machinist and bulking up for Batman Begins and Jared Leto piling on the pounds to play Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 to more recent examples such as Chris Pratt's transformation from Parks and Recreation to Guardians of the Galaxy, it seems as if more and more actors are willing to undertake these rigorous regimes to ensure they look perfect for a role.
Another recent example of such a transformation is that of Tom Hardy, who was required to buff up considerably for both his role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and his Mixed Martial Arts flick, Warrior. By his own admission, Hardy - who recently confirmed his interest in a sequel to Mad Max: Fury Road - hasn't taken dieting to the same extremes as the likes of Bale but refreshingly, the British actor has now spoken out about the long-term effects such rapid physical changes can have on the body.
Hardy - in an interview with The Daily Beast - was asked whether his transformations on Warrior and The Dark Knight Rises had damaged his body, to which the actor replied:
"I think you pay the price with any drastic physical changes. It was alright when I was younger... but I think as you get into your 40s you have to be more mindful of the rapid training, packing on a lot of weight and getting physical, and then not having enough time to keep training because you’re busy filming, so your body is swimming in two different directions at the same time... I haven’t damaged my body, but I’m certainly a bit achier than I used to be! I certainly have joints that click that probably shouldn’t click, you know what I mean? And carrying my children is a little bit harder than it used to be—but don’t tell them!"
Despite an increased wariness over the dangers of rapid body transformation, it does seem that Tom Hardy hasn't been deterred from the process completely as in the same interview, he also confirmed that his upcoming role as Al Capone in Fonzo will require some kind of transformation, albeit not on the same kind of level as Bane. Although Hardy isn't the first actor to publicly discuss such issues, it's always reassuring to hear big Hollywood names talk about some of the darker realities of the film industry as audiences mostly only get to see the attractive finished product.
Naturally, the practice of actors undergoing extreme body transformations has attracted backlash over the years. Many experts have claimed that such rapid weight changes not only has a negative impact on the actor's physical health but also puts harmful strain on organs. And though some may argue that any actor is entitled to treat their body how they wish, regardless of the risks, there are some who believe that seeing Hollywood figures undergo these changes sets a bad example to younger moviegoers and creates unrealistic body standards for the average person.
With that said, there is a general feeling that these actors are 'suffering for their art' and it's difficult to argue with the results, as the physical appearance of Tom Hardy as Bane and Christian Bale as Batman certainly contributed to how successful and believable their characters were. Whilst the health risks are impossible to deny, the seemingly increasing amount of actors willing to undergo such processes means that the practice is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
Source: The Daily Beast