18 Actors Who Went on Insane Diets for Roles


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Many envy the glamorous lives of actors, whether it's the red carpet shows or bedazzling tuxedos and gowns. Less enviable are the extremes gone to by many actors to get into their characters' heads, pushing their bodies and minds to the edge with punishing diet and exercise. Here are some of the most extreme diets and workout routines that famous stars have undergone for roles.
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Star-Lord, "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014)
Lost 60 pounds
After becoming known for his dad bod on TV's "Parks and Recreation," Chris Pratt got plenty of attention for transforming himself for the movies -- losing 60 pounds in six months and muscling up by hitting the gym hard for three to four hours daily. His diet jumped to 4,000 calories per day, and he drank copious amounts of water.

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Aileen Wuornos, "Monster" (2003)
Gained 30 pounds
Charlize Theron was lean and mean in last year's "Atomic Blonde," but for "Monster" she gained 30 pounds in just a few weeks to play a serial killer. To pack on weight quickly, she gorged on Krispy Kreme doughnuts, chips, and junk food. Theron won an Oscar for the performance.

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Jean Valjean, "Les Miserables" (2012)
Lost 20 pounds, gained 30
Hugh Jackman gets shredded for his "X-Men" Wolverine roles, but for "Les Miserables" he became emaciated to play a prisoner (who is eventually released). He lost 20 pounds through exercise and a very lean diet, and even abstained from water for 26 hours to hollow out his face. Then he put on 30 pounds to show his character becoming stronger.

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Bobby Sands, "Hunger" (2008)
Lost 42 pounds
Michael Fassbender played a prisoner in "Hunger" who ultimately died from starvation. To lose a whopping 42 pounds, Fassbender exercised and ate only 900 calories a day. His weight dropped to 127 pounds.

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Lily, "Black Swan" (2010)
Lost 20 pounds
The already lean Mila Kunis lost 20 pounds to look like a ballerina. She limited her daily intake to 1,200 calories, smoking cigarettes every day to help get to a mere 95 pounds.

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Jake LaMotta, "Raging Bull" (1980)
Gained 60 pounds
Robert De Niro set the bar high for his tremendous transformation in "Raging Bull," where he played a middleweight boxer. He trained with Jake LaMotta, the character he portrayed, to get fit. To become LaMotta in his later years, De Niro took a trip to Italy for a four-month pasta binge, packing on 60 pounds.

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Fantine, "Les Miserables" (2012)
Lost 25 pounds
Anne Hathaway went above and beyond to play a poor factory worker turned prostitute, losing a total 25 pounds. She went on a "starvation diet" consisting of what a co-star called rabbit food: plenty of lettuce and two squares of dried oatmeal everyday.

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Nina, "Black Swan" (2010)
Lost 20 pounds
Just like Mila Kunis, Portman had to look like a lead ballerina. Practicing up to 16 hours a day and barely eating for a year led to a total loss of 20 pounds. When she did eat, she had carrots and almonds. Portman went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress for her leading role as Nina.

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Thor, "The Avengers" (2012)
Gained 20 pounds
Anyone familiar with the Marvel movies knows that Hemsworth transformed his body for his superhero role. He hit the gym hard to look like Thor, training relentlessly with a former Navy SEAL, lifting heavy weights, concentrating on his arms and shoulders, and consuming mostly red meat and protein powder.

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Trevor Reznik, "The Machinist" (2004)
Lost 63 pounds
To drop his weight drastically in four months, Bale went on the "Apple and Tuna Diet." He ate one can of tuna and/or one apple with black coffee and water everyday, consuming a measly total of 50 to 260 calories.

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Billy Hope, "Southpaw" (2015)
Gained 15 pounds after losing 30
Gyllenhaal had a challenge when he was cast for "Southpaw": Not only did he have to put on muscle, but he needed to gain back the 30 pounds he lost for playing a creepy videographer a year earlier in "Nightcrawler." He trained ferociously all day, every day to become a fighter. His diet wasn't restricted, though -- he ate high-protein meals such as Chipotle to make up for his intense workouts.

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Rayon, "Dallas Buyers Club" (2013)
Lost 40 pounds
Jared Leto was almost unrecognizable in his role as a trans woman with HIV and AIDS. To lose 40 pounds, Leto said he basically "stopped eating," dropping to 114 pounds.

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Ed Hoffman, "Body of Lies" (2008)
Gained 63 pounds
To play Hoffman, Crowe had to pack on the pounds. He gorged on cheeseburgers for breakfast, eating whatever and whenever he wanted. He stopped when his cholesterol became dangerously high.

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Ron Woodroof, "Dallas Buyers Club" (2013)
Lost 47 pounds
Matthew McConaughey played a man diagnosed with AIDS and had to drop his weight in four months. His caloric intake was severely limited, leading to the shrinkage of his organs, muscles, and stomach. McConaughey also had plenty of cardio in his daily regimen while he ate rice pudding with a tiny spoon and "chewed a lot of ice."

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Deon, "All Things Fall Apart" (2011)
Lost 54 pounds
50 Cent lost 54 pounds to play a football player diagnosed with cancer, dropping to a gaunt 160 from 215, starving for nine weeks on a liquid diet and completing three miles on a treadmill every day.

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Chuck Noland, "Cast Away" (2000)
Lost 55 pounds
Tom Hanks played a systems analyst fighting to stay alive on a Pacific island after a plane crash. Since food was scarce on the island, Hanks' diet shrank too for four months: to large amounts of vegetables and small amounts of seafood and fruits (less than a palm's size). Hanks also completed two hours of cardio for six days a week.

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Bridget, "Bridget Jones's Diary" (2001)
Gained 30 pounds
Renee Zellweger gained 20 or more pounds for the "Bridget Jones" movie in 2001, and then again for the 2004 sequel. Usually lean and fit, Zellweger had to get bigger quickly. She relied on a 4,000-calorie diet, consuming meals four times a day. She said the junk food sent her glucose levels into a frenzy.

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Liz Gilbert, "Eat, Pray, Love" (2010)
Gained 10 pounds
Ten pounds may not seem like a lot, but Julia Roberts did "Olympic carbo loading" for her role. She started in her usual svelte shape, since her character was depressed and skinny when the movie begins. She gradually gained weight during months of shooting, just like Elizabeth Gilbert did on her trip to Italy: with the help of pasta and pizza.