They have played characters who’ve gone on to become the stuff of legends yet these actors made enormous sacrifices and sometimes took dangerous risks to develop the right physicality for their part. Here’s a list of some of the most famous.
1. Robert De Niro – Raging Bull (1980)
Arguable the transformation that started it all, De Niro worked to get his lean boxers physique then Scorcese allowed him 6 months off the shoot so that he could destroy that body and transform into the overweight “Bull” that LaMotta would become in his latter years.
2. Hugh Jackman – Wolverine (2013)
The recent X-Men franchise has seen Jackman pack on slabs of lean muscle to play Wolverine.
3. Brad Pitt – Thelma & Louise (1991), Fight Club (1999), Snatch (2000), Troy (2004)
Brad has morphed significantly over the years cutting up for a ultra lean look in films like Snatch and Fight Club then packing on the bulk to play Greek legend Achilles in Troy.
4. Mickey Rourke- The Wrestler (2008)
Mickey Rourke has always been in pretty good shape but his transformation for The Wrestler is even more impressive for a guy in his fifties!
5. Tom Hardy – Bronson (2008), The Warrior (2011), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
A huge transformation from Stuart A Life Backwards to the cult classic Bronson, Hardy certainly packs on the bulk when required.
6. Christian Bale – The Machinist (2004), Batman Begins (2005), The Fighter (2010)
Bale allows pushes for the extreme, it is incredible what he’s achieved through sheer bloody-mindedness in terms of achieving the body he feels is right for his character. However I wouldn’t recommend this approach losing that much weight so rapidly cannot be good for your vital organs and your body will suffer eventually.
7. Denzel Washington – The Hurricane (1999)
Denzel is no stranger to working out, he trained hard for his role as a middleweight boxer in The Hurricane and it clearly paid off.
8. Chris Hemsworth – Thor (2011)
When this Home & Away star found out he would be playing Thor he quickly realized he would have to pack on the muscle to give a believable portrayal of the Norse legend.
9. Renée Zellweger – Bridget Jones (2001) and (2004)
Gaining 20lbs for the role of Bridget Jones and amazingly returned to her usual weight between the two films.
10. Will Smith – Ali (2001)
Almost unrecognizable from his fresh faced days as everyone’s favourite cousin from Philly, Smith completely transformed to play heavyweight legend Muhammad Ali.
11. Ryan Reynolds – Blade Trinity (2004)
Abs so popular even Family Guy parodies them (that’s when you know you’ve made it).
12. Linda Hamilton – Terminator (1984) Terminator 2 (1991)
Linda Hamilton makes a remarkable change from the naïve, fearful Sarah Connor of 1984 to the kickass war bringer of 1991.
13. Marlon Brando – A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Brando’s brawny physicality as macho Stanley Kowalski electrified theatre and film audiences alike. There is no direct work out regime he adhered to but from researching different articles and biographies we know he would certainly do press-ups before a show and lifted weights to build up his body.
14. Natalie Portman – Black Swan (2010)
Unbelievably Natalie Portman lost 20 pounds (from where I rightly hear you cry?!?) to play a ballerina in Black Swan. She trained for five hours a day, seven days a week for the role.
15. Matt Damon – The Informant! (2009), Courage Under Fire (1996)
Like Christian Bale, Matt Damon has undergone some extreme dieting measures for the characters his played. Starting in early on in Courage Under Fire he lost 40lbs to play the anguish of a soldier to most recently piling on the pounds for his role in The Informant!