NEW YORK – Robert De Niro once put on 60 pounds for "Raging Bull." Big deal.
De Niro got an Oscar for his overeating efforts. But the faux-fatso Reynolds will be happy just to get some cheap belly laughs.
"It wasn't easy," jokes Reynolds, the chisel-cheeked star of teen-bait like "Van Wilder" and "Blade: Trinity." "I still had to spend four hours every morning in the makeup chair."
Fat is the new funny in Tinseltown, and Reynolds is just the latest star to join the chub club.
Let's take a walk down the Hollywood Boulevard of the heavy-set.
Robin Williams said "Ooooh, hell-oooooo" from behind a fattened-up female face in "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993).
Eddie Murphy got plenty of wide-load work as Sherman Klump and his kin in "The Nutty Professor" (1996) and its sequel.
Mike Myers had a Mini-Me-size appetite -- "Get in mah belly!" -- as Fat Bastard in "The Spy Who Shagged Me" (1999).
A gargantuan Gwyneth Paltrow made quite a splash -- emptying half of a swimming pool -- and left behind a trail of flattened chairs in "Shallow Hal" (2000).
Let's not forget the reigning king of king-sized laughs, Martin Short's Jiminy Glick, who's been stuffing himself into an often-toppled interviewer's chair since 2001.
Honorable mention goes to Julia Roberts as a Pretty Hefty Woman in "America's Sweethearts" (2001); Courteney Cox in "Friends" flashbacks; cartoonish Kenan Thompson in "Fat Albert" (2004); and even Tyra Banks, who recently donned a fat suit for her TV talk show to see if men ignored her. They did.
For "Just Friends," which opens Wednesday, Reynolds wore the fat suit for seven days of shooting, and even agreed to "go big" on the movie poster, sporting a double chin.
But relax, ladies. Reynolds is hunky -- not chunky -- for all but the early "awkward teen" scenes of the movie.
In the film, his smitten high-school pansy Chris Brander longs for the affections of a cutie, played by Anna Faris ("Scary Movie"), but he's frustratingly stuck in the "friend zone."
"I didn't just want to give [Ryan] acne for the high-school scenes," says director Roger Kumble. "We have to humiliate him at the beginning to understand his pain and his journey."
Years later, the once-tubby teen Chris has finally dropped the baby fat, landed a cool job at a record label and ditched his dorky reindeer sweaters for designer suits -- but he still can't seem to get the girl. At least not the one he wants, his old high-school crush.
Reynolds, who hasn't been a pound overweight for any of his 29 years, says of the meaty role: "Chris discovers his problem is self-loathing, that deep down it doesn't have anything to do with being overweight."
The process of fake fattening begins with a face mold. That mold is used by designers to match complexion with a silicone prosthetic that affixes from the forehead all the way down around the neck and along the shoulders.
Dabbing at the edges of the prosthetic with rubbing alcohol dissolves the seams, and makeup covers any skin-tone discrepancies.
"Once it was secured to my face," Reynolds says. "I'd spend about an hour reading lines into the mirror. As an actor, having that much more face actually gives you about 20 new expressions to work with."
So, maybe it'd be a good idea to hang onto his prosthetic for practice.
"I would," Reynolds jokes. "But I'm not sure where to keep 12 pounds of chin fat."