If you were shocked by Bradley Cooper’s transformation in his latest blockbuster movie “American Sniper,” namely, gaining 40 pounds, you might not realize that many actors have undergone extreme dieting and weight gain for roles as superheroes, athletes and more.
His daily regimen included two intense workouts and eating more than 5,000 calories per day.
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
In preparing for the role of an American Navy Seal, the Oscar-nominated actor’s daily routine included eating 5,000 calories and intense workouts. Bradley Cooper gained 40 pounds for American Sniper.
Workouts began at 5:00 AM, focused on building body mass, while evening session were more traditional, muscle building focused.
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Gyllenhaal lost 30 pounds for his role in Nightcrawler – the story of a ethically questionable news photographer.
The actor admitted that rather than using a special diet, he simply just stopped eating and went on frequent running session in the area around his Los Angeles home.
Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy
Pratt decided to give up beer as part of his 40 pound slim-down in preparation for the role Peter Quill in the Marvel’s blockbuster. His workout routine comprised running, swimming, boxing, kickboxing and a triathlon.
“I actually lost weight by eating more food, but eating the right food, eating healthy foods, and so when I was done with the movie my body hadn’t been in starvation mode,” said the actor in an interview with People magazine.
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Portman, who was never a heavy person, went on a diet of carrots and almonds, and exercised for up to eight hours daily – eventually losing 20 pounds for her spectacular portrayal of a psychologically compromised ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.
Portman explained, “There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die…it was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down.”
Mila Kunis – Black Swan
Portman’s co-star in the film, Kunis, underwent an equally significant transformation – droppin 20 pounds to hit a weight of 98 pounds. “I had no shape, no boobs, no a#$,” remarked Kunis. “All you saw was the bone. I was like, ‘this looks gross.’
The actress treated herself to all the high calorie meals she desired after shooting for the film wrapped. She joked, “It took me five months to lose 20 pounds, and it took me hours to gain it back!”
Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
Anne Hathaway lost 16 pounds, living on a diet of hummus and radishes, before playing a destitute prostitute in the film version of the musical, Les Miserables.
Tom Hardy – The Dark Knight Rises
Hardy gained 30 pounds, reaching a total weight of 198 pounds in order to the villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, part of the Batman series.
Apparently, used to illustrated depictions of Bane, hardcore Batman fans expected the actor to look weigh anywhere between 220 or 400 pounds and look like the extremely exaggerated comic book character.
Christian Bale – The Machinist
Christian Bale stopped eating and exercising to drop 63 pounds for “The Machinist.”
Christian Bale, and not his director, was the one who came up with the idea of dropping over 60 pounds to play the lead role in The Machinist. He told the BBC, “I was intrigued by a perverse nature of mine just to see if I can go beyond what I’ve been told is actually safe and OK, and see if I could push the limits,” Bale said.
The actor stopped exercising and consumed a daily diet of vitamins, an apple and a can of tuna. Afterwards, he had to gain back almost 100 pounds in order to play Batman.
Christian Bale – American Hustler
Bale estimated that he went from weighing approximately 185 to 228 pounds in preparation for American Hustler. The change was so significant that supposedly, Robert De Niro didn’t recognize the actor on set.
Matt Damon – The Informant
Matt put on 30 pounds for his role in “The Informant.”
Damon described to Entertainment Weekly how he packed on 30 pounds for his role, “I started eating like crazy and drinking dark beer. Between meals on set, I’d eat a No. 1 Value Meal at McDonald’s and then Doritos on top of it. It was absolute heaven.”
Renée Zellweger – Bridget Jones’ Diary / Chicago
Zellweger had to constantly put weight on and off for different roles throughout her career. However, she didn’t complain. “I’m ready, willing and able,” Zellweger told the London Times. “Bridget’s a character I really identify with. I’ll put the weight back on with pleasure.”
George Clooney – Syriana
George Clooney commented about putting on over 30 pounds for his role as a CIA operative, “There was nothing fun about it. There was not a moment that was fun about shooting this film.
“The lack of exercise left the actor very depressed. Shockingly, soon after shooting, Clooney had to lose more weight for his role in Michael Clayton.
Charlize Theron – Monster
Charlize Theron, known for her beauty and fit figure, gained over 30 pounds in order to depict a serial killer/prostitute in 2003’s Monster.
“I first began stuffing myself with Krispy Kreme doughnuts, but after a while I got sick of them,” said Theron. The struggle paid off, as Theron won the best actress Oscar for her performance.
Tom Hanks – Castaway
When a person is stranded for months on a desert island, they will inevitable lose weight. Accordingly, Hanks lost an extreme 55 pounds for his memorable role in Castaway. It was however familiar territory; he had previously shed 26 pounds to play AIDS-stricken Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia.
Ryan Reynolds – Blade Trinity/Green Lantern
The actor trained 90 minutes every day for months in order to gain the 25 pound of muscle he needed for his roles. His personal trainer revealed, “For Blade and Green Lantern, he was 200 pounds and 8% body fat. For rom-coms [romantic comedies], he’s about 180 and 11% body fat.”
Vincent D’Onofrio – Full Metal Jacket
The actor beats out all the others, having gained a whopping 70 pounds for Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film, Full Metal Jacket.
Hillary Swank – Million Dollar Baby
Looking great as an amateur boxer, Hillary Swank actually gained 19 pounds of muscle for the Clint Eastwood directed, Academy Award winning film, Million Dollar Baby.
“My training was two and a half hours of boxing and approximately an hour and a half to two hours lifting weights every day, six days a week,” Swank told Movieweb.com.
Ben Kingsley – Gandhi
Nobody would deny that Kingsley was an example of perfect casting; his portrayal of Gandhi is unforgettable. Director Sir Richard Attenborough had been searching for the right actor for 20 years. As part of his extensive preparations, Kingsley demonstrated that art indeed imitates life – he lost 20 pounds by using Gandhi’s traditional vegetarian diet.
Kingsley said to the The New York Times, ”When I have totally immersed myself in the mechanical, logical preparation of a part, if I and my craft are totally bonded and fully exploited, something else in me is awakened and begins to inform my work.”
Robert De Niro – Raging Bull
Before jumping in the ring and playing boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, Robert de Niro added 60 pounds of muscle while training with the legend himself. The role eventually landed him both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
Demi Moore – GI Jane
In 1997, Moore trained using military routines with an ex-Navy Seal for the film – based on the true story of Lieutenant Jordan O’Neill, the first female Navy SEAL to join a US Navy Special Warfare Group.
Moore’s diet was restricted to things like chicken breast, salmon and vegetables. Moore explained, “I could have come in and asked to let the stunt woman do the obstacle course. But I felt I would have walked away having missed an opportunity experiencing, first-hand, what these people actually go through in training; it’s the whole reason for doing this film in the first place.”
Ryan Gosling – The Lovely
Ryan Gosling, one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs, actually gained 60 pounds in order to properly portray a grieving father. However, when he showed up on set he was actually fired by the director, Peter Jackson!
“I was 150 pounds when [Jackson] hired me, and I showed up on set 210 pounds,” Gosling revealed. “We had a different idea of how the character should look. I really believed he should be 210 pounds. I was melting Haagen Dazs and drinking it when I was thirsty.”