When actors and actresses commit to a role, it’s more than just playing a part. They’re playing a character, which means they must embody them both mentally and physically. Sure, costumes and makeup can work wonders, but many celebrities will go to great lengths to not only land their roles, but essentially become their role. To truly get into character, many undergo some serious physical changes. I mean, just take a look at what Rooney Mara had to endure to become Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo!
The physical changes can range from mild to extreme, the latter including major weight gain. Whether that entails gaining pounds and pounds of muscle or fat, the following 17 hardcore actors and actresses weren’t afraid to alter their bodies for the sake of their art. As you can imagine, gaining any type of weight is no easy feat. You’ll never believe the diets and workout regimens these stars went through just to bless us with an amazing performance!
17. Charlize Theron in Monster
Charlize Theron is no stranger to altering her physical appearance for a role. It’s hard to believe that the same actress who played Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road is about to play Marlo in Tully! One of her famed weight gains landed her an Oscar when she packed on 30 pounds to portray serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster. The surprising part is, Theron revealed in an interview that changing her weight was never intitially discussed. After learning more about Wuornos, Theron felt that this physical transformation was soemthing she needed to do.
“It wasn’t about getting fat,” said Theron. “Aileen wasn’t fat. Aileen carried scars on her body from her lifestyle, and if I’d gone to make this movie with my body—physically I’m very athletic—I don’t know that I would have felt the things Aileen felt with her body.”
16. Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary
Theron wasn’t the only actress to pack on 30 pounds. Renée Zellweger made about the same commitment for the role of Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Diary. And if that’s not enough to make you question her sanity, she had to do it again for the sequel!
“Can I just tell you my body is whacked by the time we finish one of those? It doesn’t know what has happened because it thinks there’s supposed to be a baby and there’s no christening,” Zellweger once joked about her weight gain.
15. George Clooney in Syriana
George Clooney isn’t easily recognized in the film Syriana. The Hollywood hunk added about 30 pounds in only one month to commit to his role as Bob Barnes. Some actors and actresses don’t feel too negatively about gaining weight to play a part, but Clooney isn’t one of them. In one interview, the actor confessed that “it’s not nearly as fun as it sounds.”
“So my job was just to eat as fast as I could, as much as I could… But mostly you just ate until you wanted to throw up, and made sure you didn’t throw up. So that was my job for a month, was eating,” he revealed. Yikes!
14. Vanessa Hudgens in Gimme Shelter
We all grew up watching a bright and bubbly Vanessa Hudgens in the High School Musical movies, so it was a shock to see her transformation in Gimme Shelter. Playing an abused pregnant teen who takes refuge at a shelter for homeless youths, she tacked on ten to 15 pounds to look more realistic for her character. According to People, the star credits French food, specifically croissants, with helping her prepare for her role. Hudgens traveled to Cannes before starring in the film.
“It’s not hard to put on weight in France when you’re eating all the good French food,” said Hudgens. We can imagine!
13. Matt Damon in The Informant!
Matt Damon is one of the stars who enjoyed his experience gaining weight for a role. To prepare for the film The Informant!, Damon added about 30 pounds and had a hell of a time doing it. “It was great,” Damon told Access Hollywood. “I wish they were doing a sequel because I ate whatever I wanted to and drank a lot of dark beer and put on 30 pounds. It was easy, shockingly easy to do actually.”
And apparently, Damon wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the fun! “My wife liked it,” he adds. “You know, I liked parading around the house with my belly hanging out. I would do like kind of the sexy walk, but I clearly shouldn’t have been doing that type of thing. We had fun with it. We laughed a lot.” Too adorable.
12. Ryan Reynolds in Blade Trinity
One of the world’s most favorite pieces of eye candy packed on some serious muscle weight for his role in Blade Trinity. After five months of workouts, Ryan Reynolds gained an impressive 20 pounds of muscle to play Hannibal King. Crediting his transformation mostly to nutrition, the heartthrob also lost about a third of his body fat in the process. I suppose it’s actually true when they say that abs are made in the gym but revealed in the kitchen. Packing on the pounds isn’t always about gaining fat, and when it comes to Hollywood, it’s nothing less than extreme.
11. Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine
Michelle Williams added 15 pounds to her toned and tiny frame alongside co-star Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine. Following the evolution of a married couple’s relationship, it sounds as if the extra pounds helped Williams feel more comfortable with her role in the film. While some stars feel the reality of their weight gain, she actually expressed that it felt more like a costume. “Well, the nude scenes were in the later part of the relationship so I had gained some weight and the pudginess I was feeling was almost like a costume, so it didn’t really seem as if I were nude but some other person was. All that extra flesh ironically made me feel less nude.” Who would’ve thought!
10. Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes
Emma Stone is one of the more recent examples showing that gaining weight for a role doesn’t always mean gaining fat! To transform into badass tennis legend Billie Jean King, Stone gained 15 pounds of muscle through a meal and a fitness plan. Downing protein shakes with hundreds of calories and pulling sleds twice her size, trainer Jason Walsh revealed just how much work Stone put into preparing for her role. “She took it seriously,” said Walsh. “She wanted to do the story justice.” Gaining the weight was not only essential to the role physically, as it also helped Stone mentally. “We wanted to give Emma the psychological backing,” the trainer revealed. “She needed to be resilient and to have the psyche of being really strong.” You go, girl!
9. Jonah Hill in War Dogs
Jonah Hill is certainly an actor who puts his heart and soul into his role, so when he starred in War Dogs, he went all in. The actor packed on 40 pounds for the film, looking shockingly unrecognizable after he lost 40 pounds for his role in Moneyball back in 2011. To get back in shape after War Dogs, Hill told Jimmy Fallon on the The Tonight Show that he called up his good pal Channing Tatum for some help. “I called Channing Tatum and said, ‘Hey, if I ate less and go to a trainer, will I get in better shape?’ And he said, ‘Yes, you dumb motherf*cker, of course you will. It’s the simplest thing in the entire world.'” Gotta love that dynamic duo.
8. Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Ben Affleck was a ball of bulging muscles for his role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The actor reportedly put on 40 pounds of muscle after following a high-calorie diet and hitting up the gym like it was his job (oh, wait). Affleck told Men’s Journal that he felt that he had to live up to certain expectations for the role. “I knew that a big part of the audience’s expectation around the role would be how I looked physically,” said Affleck. “And that was something I had some control over. If I was going to fail in this role, I wasn’t going to let it be in a way that could have prevented if I had worked harder.” Brb, wishing I had that kind of motivation.
7. Jessica Chastain in The Help
You’ll never believe what Jessica Chastain did to achieve her curvy physique for her role in The Help. Being vegan, the actress was particular about how she chose to gain 15 pounds to play Celia Foote. “I had to be soft and curvy, so I ate a lot of soy,” Chastain spilled. “Soy helps you become curvy because it has estrogen in it. So what I would do—and this is really gross—is buy cartons of soy ice cream, microwave it and drink it. It was disgusting… [But] wait till you see my boobs in the movie,” she continued. I can’t tell if I’m amazed or just completely grossed out! A bit of both…
6. Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot took the box office by storm last summer with her incredible performance in Wonder Woman. Being a badass superheroine and all that, the actress added a total of 17 pounds in muscle to take on the role. “I’ve gained about 17 pounds, and it’s all muscle,” Gadot told Glamour. “I feel so much better now. When you feel strong, it changes everything — your posture, the way you walk. I look at photos from five years ago and think, Whoa, I was too skinny. It’s not cool.” Through changes to her diet and intense training, Gadot was ready to bring the modern Wonder Woman to life.
5. Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
Hilary Swank underwent a famous physical change to star in the film Million Dollar Baby. She tacked on 19 pounds to transform her muscular body for the role, which received mixed reviews from audiences. In an interview, the actress revealed, “People said to me, ‘Did you feel masculine?’ because I gained nineteen pounds of muscle when they asked me to gain ten. And when I read the script, I’m playing a boxer, right? So, of course, I’m going to train and be believable as a boxer, that’s my job. So getting to step into people’s shoes for that moment is amazing, but the actual changes I went through physically were so interesting because I learned so much about my body and mind.”
Gaining 19 pounds of muscle is no easy task, so for Swank, it required things such nine hours of sleep a night, 210 grams of protein a day and plenty of determination.
4. Christian Bale in American Hustle
Christian Bale committed to an incredible transformation when gaining weight for his role in American Hustle. Packing on 43 pounds to transform into a ’70s con-artist, Bale informed People how he achieved his new body. “I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers and whatever I could get my hands on. I literally ate anything that came my way,” the former Batman dished. “I was about 185 and went up to 228.”
And if you’re still not convinced that the belly was all Bale, you’ll be shocked to learn otherwise. “I hope that the makeup maybe get an Oscar or something for this because people think it’s a prosthetic belly,” said Bale. “I’ll lie about that if it means they get an award because the makeup people were fantastic.” What a guy!
3. Matthew McConaughey in Gold
Matthew McConaughey is a prime example of an actor who’s gone both ways when dealing with weight for a role. While we’re still amazed by his dramatic weight loss in Dallas Byers Club, we’re just as intrigued by his weight gain to portray businessman Kenny Wells in Gold. Gaining a whopping 40ish pounds, it’s no surprise that the road to this transformation was an interesting one (with lots of pizza).
“I was getting pretty damn fat as Kenny Wells,” said McConaughey. “I was an all-star in my family, nicknamed Captain Fun during that time because I was yes to pizza night, every night and it was cheeseburgers and beer.” Sounds like a party to me!
2. Toni Collette in Muriel’s Wedding
Told that she was perfect but too thin for the role, Toni Collette was determined to play Muriel Heslop in Muriel’s Wedding. The actress promised she would put the weight on, gaining 42 pounds to star in her breakthrough role. “I used to fluctuate from feeling really lethargic and gross to feeling really sexy and curvaceous,” she said of her time filming. Her performance in the film earned her Australia’s Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
1. Jared Leto in Chapter 27
Perhaps the most astounding transformation of all, Jared Leto looks nothing like himself in the film Chapter 27. To play Mark David Chapman, the assassin of John Lennon, Leto added a whopping 67 pounds to his petite frame. Yes, you read correct! Leto reveals to the Los Angeles Times that the weight gain probably wasn’t the best idea, as it took quite a physical toll on him.
“I’m not sure it was the wisest choice,” he said about his dramatic transformation. “A friend of mine was recently going to gain weight for a film, and I did my best to talk him out of it. Just because you can lose the weight doesn’t mean the impact it had on you isn’t there anymore.” Unfortunately for Leto, gaining all that weight gave him gout. It’s amazing what actors and actresses will do for a role!