Actor Mark Wahlberg has made headlines with photographs revealing his dramatic 30lbs weight gain as he begins transforming his body for his latest role as a former boxer-turned-priest in the upcoming film Father Stu.
But severe yo-yo dieting is a regular practice in Hollywood, where extreme transformations can lead to critical acclaim.
It’s been almost a cliche way to garner acclaim ever since Robert Deniro gained a then-record 60lbs to play over the hill boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese’s 1980 masterpiece, ‘Raging Bull.’
New look: Wahlberg showed off his dramatic body transformation, after trying to ‘put on as much weight as possible’ for his role as a boxer-turned-priest in the upcoming film Father Stu
In the decades since everyone from Hilary Swank to Jake Gyllenhaal has shed fat for boxing films, while Jared Leto and Renee Zellweger have added extra padding to their naturally svelte frame when the role requires.
Some, like Christian Bale, have attempted total body transformations more than once.
However it is not always as easy as just gaining and losing a few pounds – stars have reported serious health consequences including fainting spells, depression and even gout.
Here, FEMAIL shares some of the most dramatic on-screen weight transformations…
LOST 60lbs FOR THE MACHINIST (2004)
Master of transformation: Christian Bale has shed and gained hundreds of pounds over the years for the sake of his art. None was more dramatic than the skeletal frame he debuted in 2004 psychological thriller, The Machinist (right). Left, Bale in 2000 film Equilibrium
Building muscle: Just six months after The Machinist, Bale appeared in Batman Begins and had to get his weight back up to 180lbs. Pictured, on the set of the superhero film
The Fighter: Bale lost 30lbs for his performance as Dicky Eklund, a boxer-turned-trainer, for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (left). Right, for all-star American Hustle, Bale gained 43lbs. The role earned him his second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor
Disappearing into the role: After losing the weight from American Hustle, Bale once again gained 40lbs to play Dick Cheney in Vice. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar
Arguably the master of physical transformations, Bale has shed and gained hundreds of pounds over the years for the sake of his art.
Christian Bale: Master of weight loss… and gain
As well as The Machinist, Bale has undergone dramatic transformations for films including:
AMERICAN PSYCHO, 2000: Although Bale has not revealed how much he lost for the role of Patrick Bateman, he revealed working out ‘took over his life’ as he shed fat and gained muscle.
BATMAN BEGINS, 2005: Just six months after The Machinist, Bale appeared in Batman Begins and had to get his weight back up to 180lbs.
THE FIGHTER, 2010: Bale lost 30lbs for his performance as Dicky Eklund, a boxer-turned-trainer, for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
AMERICAN HUSTLE, 2013: For all-star American Hustle, Bale gained 43lbs. The role earned him his second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor.
VICE, 2018: After losing the weight from American Hustle, Bale once again gained 40lbs to play Dick Cheney in Vice. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.
But perhaps none was more dramatic than the skeletal frame he debuted in 2004 psychological thriller, The Machinist.
The 6ft actor stunned audiences when he appeared a gaunt 60lbs lighter – but the radical transformation wasn’t originally in the script.
In a 2014 interview, co-star Michael Ironside, said the weight loss was the result of a simple typo.
‘The writer is only about five-foot-six, and he put his own weights in,’ Ironside said.
‘And then Chris did the film and Chris said, “No, don’t change the weights. I want to see if I make them.” …
‘So those weights he writes on the bathroom wall in the film are his actual weights in the film.’
He reportedly exercised while surviving on just 260 calories today, consisting of a tin of tuna and an apple, washed down with black coffee and water.
After his weight plummeted to a shocking 121lbs, the actor swiftly bulked up again in just six weeks to play the Caped Crusader in Batman Begins by gorging on pizza and ice cream.
He said: ‘I overdid it because I was enjoying gorging. I was ignoring advice about taking it slowly because my stomach had shrunk, and I should just go with soups.
‘I was straight into pizza and ice-cream and eating five meals in a sitting. My stomach expanded really quickly. I got very sick during that time but I enjoyed getting sick. I didn’t mind it at all.
‘In that short amount of time I did actually go from 121 lbs right back up to 180 lbs which is way too fast so that resulted in some doctor visits to get things sorted out.’
GAINED 30lbs FOR MONSTER (2003) AND 50lbs FOR TULLY (2018)
Mental health battle: Charlize Theron said she struggled with depression after putting on some 50lbs to play a mother on the brink in Tully (right). Left, the actress before filming
Critical acclaim: Charlize Theron won an Oscar for 2003 film Monster, directed by Patti Jenkins, in which she played real-life serial killer Aileen Wuronos (right on screen). The role required Theron, then in her 20s, to gain some 30lbs. Left, Theron before filming
South African-born actress Charlize Theron is a pro when it comes to dramatic film transformations – and the stress she puts her body under has certainly paid off.
She won an Oscar for 2003 film Monster, directed by Patti Jenkins, in which she played real-life serial killer Aileen Wuronos. The role required Theron, then in her 20s, to gain some 30lbs.
Theron said at the time she relied on a diet of ‘donuts and potato chips’ to pile on the weight for the role, which was met with praise from critics and audiences alike.
The fatty, sugary diet also affected the star’s skin and her usually radiant complexion looked markedly more pallid and blotchy on screen.
The actress pulled off a similar feat for 2018’s Tully, which saw her gain some 50lbs to play a mother on the brink of a mental breakdown.
But while it had been easy to gain and lose weight for Monster, Theron struggled with the Tully transformation and spoke of falling into a depression as a result of the bad diet.
‘It was brutal in every sense,’ she explained at the time. ‘This time around, I really felt it in my health. The sugar put me in a massive depression.
‘I was sick. I couldn’t lose the weight. I called my doctor and I said, “I think I’m dying!” And he’s like, “No, you’re 41. Calm down”.’
LOST 50lbs FOR DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013)
Oscar glory: Another actor who found Oscar success with a dramatic weight loss role is Matthew McConaughey, who took home the Best Actor award after losing some 40lbs to play Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club (right). Left, months earlier in Magic Mike
Another actor who found Oscar success with a dramatic weight loss role is Matthew McConaughey, who took home the Best Actor award after losing some 40lbs to play Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club.
The 6ft actor relied on a meal plan of Diet Coke, egg whites and a piece of chicken a day to slim down, eventually reaching just 143lbs.
‘I met with a nutritionist. I gave myself four months to lose the weight. I had my programmed meals, lost 3.5lb a week – like clockwork – and got down to my desired weight,’ he said at the time.
He insisted that losing weight was ‘honestly not that difficult’ but learning to re-progamme his life was the toughest challenge.
He said: ‘You have to reprogramme all of your habits, and the days get so long. You think it must be lunchtime already, and it’s only 9.30 in the morning.
‘I kept a diary of my nutrition the whole way through, and it is something I will probably share at some point because it was quite the adventure.’
And as the weight dropped from his muscular 183lbs to a scrawny 143lbs, so, too, did his strength.
‘I would do five push-ups and be sore. I would run 30 feet and my legs would lock up.’
LOST 60lbs FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)
Weight gain… and loss: After gaining weight for hit TV show Parks and Recreation, Chris Pratt weighed almost 300lbs when he auditioned for the role of Star-Lord/Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy. He then lost 60lbs in six months before filming started (right). Left, in 2009
After gaining weight for hit TV show Parks and Recreation, Chris Pratt weighed almost 300lbs when he auditioned for the role of Star-Lord/Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy.
After winning over the director in the audition, he set about losing 60lbs in six months before filming began.
Marvel enlisted the help of personal trainer Duffy Gaver and nutritionist Phil Goglia.
‘He wanted to do justice to the role,’ Gaver – whose clients include Chris Hemsworth, Brad Pitt, and Ashton Kutcher – said in an interview at the time.
‘He wanted more muscle, to be much leaner, and to be more fit…Chris’ athleticism is amazing, he is incredibly disciplined and his work ethic is phenomenal.’
The actor said it was ‘three or four hours a day of just consistent, a**-kicking work’.
Goglia revamped Pratt’s diet, hiking his caloric intake to 4,000 calories a day and adding lots and lots of water—one for every pound he weighed. ‘I was peeing all day long, every day. That part was a nightmare,’ Pratt said.
GAINED 30lbs FOR BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY (2001), LOST IT FOR CHICAGO (2003) … THEN PUT IT ON AGAIN FOR BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON (2004)
Back-to-back films: Diminutive Renée Zellweger famously gained 30lbs in just a few months to play Bridget Jones in the original 2001 film (left) – which earned her an Oscar nomination – going from a size 4 to size 14. Two years later she was back to her petite self in Chicago (right)
Diminutive Renée Zellweger famously gained 30lbs in just a few months to play Bridget Jones in the original 2001 film – which earned her an Oscar nomination – going from a size 4 to size 14.
After filming ended, Zellweger cut her 4,000-calorie-a-day diet and returned to her naturally petite frame.
‘For Bridget, I sat around and ate a lot of milky, high fat things,’ she said. ‘And after filming was over, I just stopped and went back to the gym.’
In 2002, Renée added dance training to her routine as she starred as Roxy Hart in movie musical Chicago, for which she also received a nomination.
Just months after filming wrapped, Zellweger once again put on weight to reprise her role in the sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
While the character was not quite as curvaceous as the first time round, it still marked a dramatic change for Zellweger.
GAINED 15lbs FOR SOUTHPAW (2015)
Bulking up: Jake Gyllenhaal had just come off the back of losing 30lbs to play a crime reporter in Nightcrawler (left) when he had to set about gaining muscle mass for Southpaw (right). First he went back up to his normal weight before adding an additional 15lbs of pure muscle
Jake Gyllenhaal had just come off the back of losing 30lbs to play a svelte crime reporter in Nightcrawler when he had to set about gaining muscle mass for 2015 boxing film Southpaw.
First the actor brought himself back up to his normal weight before adding an additional 15lbs of pure muscle.
‘We literally turned him into a beast,’ director Antoine Fugua said. ‘Jake, my god, he’s a very electric, powerful fighter in this movie. He’s so committed and gives his heart. The word is sacrifice.’
He was trained by former professional boxer Terry Claybon who led Gyllenhaal in workouts for six hours a day for the six months before filming started.
The regime involved 2,000 sit-ups a day and three hours of boxing in the morning and three hours of strengthening, conditioning, and cardio at night’.
GAINED 67lbs FOR CHAPTER 27
Unrecognisable: Jared Leto gained 60lbs to play Mark David Chapman – the fan who assassinated John Lennon – in Chapter 27 in 2007 (right). Left, months before filming
Leto also lost 25lbs in 2000 to play a drug addict in Requiem for a Dream
Jared is no stranger to losing weight for a role.
While filming for his Oscar-winning role in The Dallas Buyers Club – in which he played a transgender AIDS suffer – he all but stopped eating to lose 40lbs.
He also lost 25lbs in 2000 to play a drug addict in Requiem for a Dream and then gained 60lbs to play Mark David Chapman – the deranged fan who assassinated John Lennon – in Chapter 27 in 2007, making it his most dramatic transformation to date.
By the end of filming, the extra weight had taken such a toll that he could no longer walk to the set and it left him with gout.
‘I’m not sure it was the wisest choice,’ he admits. ‘A friend of mine was recently going to gain weight for a film, and I did my best to talk him out of it. Just because you can lose the weight doesn’t mean the impact it had on you isn’t there anymore.’
He has since vowed never to pile on the pounds for a movie again, as he doesn’t want to put his health in jeopardy.
GAINED 19lbs FOR MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)
Knockout: Yet another star who won an Oscar for their makeover role is Hilary Swank, who took home the Best Actress gong for 2004 film Million Dollar Baby. Producers wanted Swank to gain 10lbs of muscle but she was able to gain 19lbs on a rigorous three-month programme
Yet another star who won an Oscar for their makeover role is Hilary Swank, who took home the Best Actress gong for 2004 film Million Dollar Baby.
To portray a boxer, Swank not only had to learn how to box but undertook a rigorous training programme to shape her body into that of a dedicated athlete who had years of training under her belt.
The actress was just given 90 days before filming started, meaning she had to pack in as much as she could.
‘My training was two and a half hours of boxing and approximately an hour and a half to two hours lifting weights every day, six days a week,’ Swank said at the time.
‘The producers asked me to gain 10 pounds of muscle. I gained 19 pounds of muscle. I started at 110 and went to 129. And in order to do that, I had to eat 210 grams of protein a day.’
LOST 25lbs FOR LES MISERABLES
‘Starvation’: The Hollywood star shed 25lb for her role as Fantine in the film musical Les Miserables (right) – 10lb in three weeks before filming and 15lb during production. She said she wanted to look like she was ‘near death’ in the film. Pictured left, on the red carpet in 2006
When she was cast as a starving prostitute, Anne Hathaway decided on a drastic way to lose weight – a diet that can only be described as miserable.
The Hollywood star shed 25lb for her role as Fantine in the film musical Les Miserables – 10lb in three weeks before filming and 15lb during production.
‘I just had to stop eating for a total of 13 days shooting,’ she said in an interview.
‘I was on a starvation diet to look like I was near death in a film… but I went at it with a plan and I had a guide, a nutritionist kind of helped me with it.’
It was later reported she had survived largely on lettuce leaves.
The effort and discomfort was worth it in the end – Anne Hathaway took home the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for the role.
The one that started it all: Robert De Niro in Raging Bull (1980)
Before there was Christian Bale, Robert De Niro was the king of transformational method acting – as exemplified in 1980’s Raging Bull. The actor gained 60lbs during the course of filming, taking his physique from ripped (left) to overweight (right)
Before there was Christian Bale, Robert De Niro was the king of transformational method acting – as exemplified in 1980’s Raging Bull.
De Niro plays Italian-American middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta, whose self-destructive behavior is chronicled over the course of several decades.
De Niro took it upon himself to embody all of his character’s iterations.
For the majority of the film he portrayed a lean, dynamic boxer. In the final scenes, his character has fallen out of shape.
The change in body type required De Niro to put on a staggering 60lbs, which was then the record for the most by any actor for a film role.
Setting a trend that continues decades later, De Niro won an Academy Award for his performance.