Menu

ARCHIVE

Stars Who Lose and Gain Weight for Movie Roles

Jim Carrey has made a few recent appearances sporting a beard, glasses, and a whole bunch of extra weight.

He says he's planning on gaining 50 pounds to play Curly in the upcoming Farrelly brothers' movie, "The Three Stooges." While we're not sure what the beard and glasses are all about, we were happy to see Jim getting a little heft to portray the plump Stooge.

Although we're still not convinced that Jim's the man for the job, we do think the extra volume will help make the casting choice a little more acceptable. The true test will be if the actor shaves his head to play the hairless comedian, or whether he'll opt for the bald cap.

Still, Jim isn't the first actor to alter his appearance for a film. Just recently, generally fit and buff Matt Damon gained 30 pounds to play a doughy FBI agent in "The Informant!" Damon had also gone to the other extreme in 1996 when he lost 50 pounds to play a heroin addict in "Courage Under Fire."

Since Robert De Niro added bulk to play washed-up boxer Jake La Motta in "Raging Bull," actors have been getting press for their dedication to their craft as they've gained and lost significant amounts of weight for roles. Some even have been given Academy Awards for their efforts. Now we're not suggesting the physical transformation garnered the award, just that an actor who is that committed to becoming a character generally produces a top-rate performance. We'll see what the belly does for Jim Carrey.

In the meantime, here's a list of actors who've transformed their bodies through the years.

Photo gallery: See the stars who've gained and lost weight for roles.

Vincent D’Onofrio, "Full Metal Jacket"

WEIGHT GAIN: 70 pounds

Topping the weight-gain-for-a-role scales is Vincent D'Onofrio in "Full Metal Jacket." Vincent is one of those actors who NEVER looks the same in any part. To see the most profound example of this, check him out in "Full Metal Jacket" as the overweight, psychopathic, suicidal Marine recruit, then compare him to his extremely svelte and toned garage attendant/Thor in "Adventures in Babysitting." The films were both released in 1987 and were Vincent's first major movie gigs. He increased his size by 70 pounds to play Private Leonard "Gomer Pyle" Lawrence in Stanley Kubrick's "FMJ," and it took him a reported nine months to shed the weight after filming ended.

Jared Leto, "Chapter 27"

WEIGHT GAIN: 67 pounds

The best thing about the 2007 film "Chapter 27" was Jared Leto's impressive anti-makeover. The film fell short in its portrayal of the tortured, "Taxi Driver"-obsessed Beatle killer, but we couldn't help but admire Jared for his commitment to the role. Leto, typically known as a pretty boy, gained 67 pounds to play John Lennon's assassin, Mark David Chapman. The excessive weight gain caused such severe stress to his body that he spent much of his obese days in a wheelchair, claiming that it was too painful to walk. He revealed that his secret caloric weapon was his nightly cocktail of microwaved pints of ice cream spiked with olive oil and soy sauce (to promote bloating). To return to his slight build after filming, he reportedly took on an equally odd seven-week fast, drinking only water laced with lemon and cayenne pepper.

Russell Crowe, "Body of Lies"

WEIGHT GAIN: 63 pounds

Russell Crowe is a pro at the Hollywood weight gain/loss game. Most recently, he packed on 63 pounds to play a CIA boss in Ridley Scott's "Body of Lies." He allegedly owes the impressive transformation to his love of Sprinkles cupcakes and a willingness to eat cheeseburgers for breakfast. Crowe's most famous yo-yo diet centered on the 35 pounds he packed on to play Jeffrey Wigand, the tobacco company whistle-blower in "The Insider," poundage he shed immediately afterward to play the ultra-toned Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius in "Gladiator."

Robert De Niro, "Raging Bull"

WEIGHT GAIN: 60 pounds

One of the first, if not most notable, instances of weight gain for a role, was Robert De Niro in "Raging Bull." The first half of the film was shot with De Niro at his physical best, as the toned and lean boxing champ Jake La Motta. When the early scenes were complete, De Niro put his Method acting to the test. Production stopped for several months while Bobby ate pasta ... lots of it. He gained 60 pounds and then resumed filming as the washed-up, overweight, stand-up comic ex-boxer. The Academy came calling.

George Clooney, "Syriana"

WEIGHT GAIN: 30 pounds

George Clooney went the distance for the 2005 film "Syriana" by packing on an extra 30 pounds to play former CIA agent Robert Baer. The handsome leading man found himself depressed during filming because the extra weight caused a tear in his spinal tissue and a spinal fluid leak. The pain from that injury restricted his typically active, basketball-playing, motorcycle-riding lifestyle. Fitness freak Clooney couldn't wait to lose the excess load. But all the suffering was not in vain. George took home his first and (so far) only Oscar for the film, and got back to his fighting weight for production of "Ocean's 13."

Renee Zellweger, "Bridget Jones's Diary"

WEIGHT GAIN: 28 pounds

It was recently confirmed that Renee Zellweger will return in the third installment of the "Bridget Jones" series (alongside Hugh Grant and Colin Firth). For 2001's "Bridget Jones's Diary," Zellweger ate her way through enough donuts and pizza to add an extra 28 pounds to her tiny frame. For the second film, "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," she hired a nutritionist and transitioned to a size 14 in a healthy, controlled manner. In between, she plummeted to an incredibly skinny size to play Roxie Hart in the musical "Chicago." It is unclear how the actress will bulk up for the "Bridget" role this time. In the past, Renee has stated that she needs to become the character to make it real, but some reports say that instead of gaining weight as she did for the first two films, Renee will rely on padded costumes. She said in an interview that she had "a panic attack with all the specialists talking about how bad this is for you long term, putting on that much weight in short periods of time." Filming doesn't start until next year, so time will tell if her panic attacks win, and she dons the fat suit or if she breaks out the junk food for round three.

Christian Bale, "The Machinist"

WEIGHT LOSS: 63 pounds

In 2004, Christian Bale signed on to play chronic insomniac Trevor Reznik in "The Machinist." Never one to shy away from transforming himself for a film, Bale lost 63 pounds for the role to reach an emaciated 121 pounds (20 pounds less than the minimum weight his nutritionist advised). His director, Brad Anderson, expected Bale to just get a little thinner for the part, but Christian, as usual, immersed himself in the character and ate a diet of only apples and coffee for several months. But then came a big shock for Bale. Immediately after wrapping "The Machinist," he was cast as Batman in "The Dark Knight" and was given six months to gain back the weight he lost — and then some. Half a year later, the healthy, muscular caped crusader was 100 pounds heavier.

Tom Hanks, "Cast Away"

WEIGHT LOSS: 50 pounds

Tom Hanks is no stranger to the art of transformation for a movie role. In 1992 he gained 30 pounds to play baseball coach Jimmy Dugan in "A League of Their Own." Then, a few years later, he lost 30 pounds for his Oscar-winning turn as AIDS patient Andrew Beckett in "Philadelphia." But he topped the scales with his 50-pound weight loss to become plane crash survivor Chuck Noland in "Cast Away." Before filming began, Tom added a little bulk to play the out-of-shape, pudgy, middle-aged Fed Ex worker and the majority of the film was shot. Then, in a reverse De Niro, production stopped so Tom could diet. He lost 50 pounds and grew a mangy beard while director Robert Zemeckis used the crew to shoot "What Lies Beneath." When "Cast Away" filming resumed the following year, Hanks was properly skeletal to finish the later days as the desert island inhabitant.

Daniel Day-Lewis, "In the Name of the Father"

WEIGHT LOSS: 30 pounds

No one does Method acting better than Daniel Day-Lewis, and the physical change is just a small part of the picture. After beefing up for the role of Hawkeye in "Last of the Mohicans," he shed 30 pounds to play IRA prisoner Gerry Conlon in "In the Name of the Father." But beyond looking the part, Day-Lewis strives to become the person he's portraying, often staying in character on and off the set during the entire shoot. To embody the role of Gerry Conlon, he slept in the jail cell on set and demanded the crew verbally abuse him. He built his own character's house for "The Crucible," and during filming for "My Left Foot" he confined himself to a wheelchair for months. While making "Gangs of New York" he refused to wear any clothing that did not exist in the 19th century and consequently got sick from being outside in his threadbare coat. The very choosy actor has made only four films in the last decade, and we look forward to his upcoming new role in the musical "Nine" about the midlife crisis of a 1960s director. He didn't gain or lose any weight for the role, but he reportedly learned and spoke Italian during the entire production period, and his dressing room was a re-creation of a '60s movie director's office.

Beyonce Knowles, "Dreamgirls"

WEIGHT LOSS: 20 pounds

The slender, but curvaceous Beyonce Knowles took it upon herself to lose 20 pounds during the filming of 2006's "Dreamgirls" while portraying the singer modeled on the ultra-svelte Diana Ross. Beyonce told TV Week that she was inspired by Tom Hanks in "Cast Away" and wanted to transform from young, baby-faced Deena to the super-skinny, superstar chic older Deena. She allegedly lost the weight in two weeks on a cleanse of water, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. She also reportedly hated how she felt during the diet and ate as much fried food as possible as soon as filming wrapped, gaining back ten pounds almost immediately. She said, "I look better with a few pounds on my bones."

More at GetBack.com:

When Glamorous Stars Go Plain Jane