15 Famous Actors Legendary Body Transformations + Workouts

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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)

Robert De Niro sporting a lean physique for Raging Bull in 1980

Hard to believe this is also Robert De Niro in the same film. 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)

Hugh Jackman shredded for Wolverine (2013)


Hugh Jackman definitely made big change since his days of Jack Willis in Paperbook Hero (1999)

The recent X-Men franchise has seen Jackman pack on slabs of lean muscle to play Wolverine.

Hugh Jackman’s Workout & Diet for Wolverine

3. Brad Pitt – Thelma & Louise (1991), Fight Club (1999), Snatch (2000), Troy (2004)

Brad PItt’s early days in 1991 Thelma & Louise

I think all guys at some point have gone into the gym trying to aspire for the Brad Pitt 1999 Fight Club look!

Brad Pitt sports a lean look in Snatch (2000)

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.

Brad Pitt’s Workout for Fight Club

Brad Pitt’s Workout for Troy

4. Mickey Rourke- The Wrestler (2008)

Mickey Rourke in 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!

Mickey Rourke’s Workout for The Wrestler

5. Tom Hardy – Bronson (2008), The Warrior (2011), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Tom Hardy bulked up for Bronson (2008)

2 years later he worked on his physique again for The Warrior (2011)

Hardy added a tremendous amount of bulk to play merciless villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

A far cry from the days of Stuart A Life Backwards in 2007

A huge transformation from Stuart A Life Backwards to the cult classic Bronson, Hardy certainly packs on the bulk when required.

Tom Hardy Workout for Bronson

Tom Hardy Workout for The Warrior

Tom Hardy Workout for Bane

6. Christian Bale – The Machinist (2004), Batman Begins (2005), The Fighter (2010)


Christian Bale in The Machinist (2004) at 121 lbs and in Batman Begins (2005) at a whopping 191 lbs

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.

Christian Bale Batman Begins Workout

7. Denzel Washington – The Hurricane (1999)


Denzel Washington in 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.

Denzel Washington’s Hurricane Workout

8. Chris Hemsworth – Thor (2011)


Chris Hemsworth Before and After Thor

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.

Chris Hemsworth’s Thor Workout

9. Renée Zellweger – Bridget Jones (2001) and (2004)

Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones (2001)

Then just a year later Renée Zellweger at a premiere in 2002

Gaining 20lbs for the role of Bridget Jones and amazingly returned to her usual weight between the two films.

10. Will Smith – Ali (2001)


Will Smith went on intense training for his role in 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.

Will Smith’s Ali Workout

11. Ryan Reynolds – Blade Trinity (2004)

Ryan Reynolds in Blade Trinity (2004)

Abs so popular even Family Guy parodies them (that’s when you know you’ve made it).

Ryan Reynolds Workout

12. Linda Hamilton – Terminator (1984) Terminator 2 (1991)


Linda Hamilton’s first appearance as Sarah Connor in 1984


Hamilton in 1984 Terminator


In 1991Terminator 2 Linda Hamilton seriously went for it, the first time we see her in the film she’s even doing pull ups! The young girl of 1984 is long gone.

Linda Hamilton makes a remarkable change from the naïve, fearful Sarah Connor of 1984 to the kickass war bringer of 1991.

Linda Hamilton Terminator Workout

13. Marlon Brando – A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Marlon Brando’s famous scene in A Streatcar 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.

Read Marlon Brando’s Character Preparation for Stanley Kowalski

14. Natalie Portman – Black Swan (2010)


Natalie Portman in 2008 before her Black Swan intense training

Portman in 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.

Natalie Portman’s Black Swan Workout & Diet

15. Matt Damon – The Informant! (2009), Courage Under Fire (1996)


Matt Damon’s extreme weight loss for role in Courage Under Fire (1996)

A much bigger Matt Damon in The Informant! (2009)

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!

Matt Damon’s Diet for Courage Under Fire

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