Actors Who Went Through Insane Physical Transformations For Their Roles

Call it whatever you want – method acting, dedication to their craft, or straight up insanity – actors will give anything to pull off a role, sometimes transforming into a completely different person. That means dropping massive amounts of weight in shockingly short time frames, shaving off all their hair or spending hours upon hours in the makeup chair. Check out these most outrageous transformations in film history and the crazy lengths these celebs went to achieve their new look.

A Real Psycho Diet

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Christian Bale caused jaws to drop thanks to his incredible bod in 2000s cult classic, American Psycho. His perfectly chiseled abs, strong arms and overall hunkiness had all the girls loving him and all the guys wanting to be him. He credits this role with teaching him the workout foundations he would later use during his Batman bulking-up days. But it was also his hardest transformation. Bale says, “Not including The Machinist, Rescue Dawn or The Fighter – where I had to lose weight – my role for American Psycho was my most restrictive diet-wise. There were no cheat meals. It was all lean protein. No sugars, good fats and low carbs.”

A Dramatic Final Film Role

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For his final film, Heath Ledger took on the most drastic transformation of his career. Ledger gave the performance of a lifetime using Method acting to transform his thoughts, body language and physical appearance into that of the Jokers’. “I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices — it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath — someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts,” he explains. Each day as he was in makeup, Ledger would read the diary and let the transformation unfold.

He Wouldn’t Stop

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Matthew McConaughey dropped a reported 40 pounds for his portrayal of Ron Woodruff in 2013’s Dallas Buyer’s Club. He plays a man diagnosed and declining from HIV. He achieved his weight loss by simply not eating. No grueling workout just complete lack of food. He got down to a shocking 135 lbs (insanely small for his six-foot frame!). He was supposed to stop at 145 but kept going until he got the reaction he wanted. He told Vanity Fair that people kept asking him if he was okay or suggesting he seek help and he said, “There we go. That’s the perfect spot.” He won an Oscar for his heart wrenching performance.

He’d Better Guard This New Bod

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Chris Pratt went from a chubby, funny guy to a total stud almost overnight for his role in 2014 action film Guardians of the Galaxy. In just six short months the actor dropped 60 pounds. He revealed his svelte new figure in an Instagram post captioned “Six months no beer. #GOTG Kinda douchey to post this but my brother made me.” Doing a mixture of P90X, running, kickboxing, a triathlon and what he describes as “Three or four hours a day of just consistent, ass-kicking hard work,” he was able to shed the weight quickly.

Diary Of A Crazy Weight Gain

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Renée Zellweger’s physical appearance has been under scrutiny for years. One moment too skinny another too big. The girl can’t get a break. But some of the biggest scrutiny came during her reign as infamous leading lady Bridget Jones. Zellweger packed on a reported 30 pounds for all three of the films in the trilogy. “I 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,” she explains. She must not have lost too much sleep over it to put herself through it multiple times!

A Raging Bull

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The Hollywood legend packed on the pounds for his portrayal of boxer Jake La Motta long gone from his glory days in the 1980 film, Raging Bull. DeNiro piled on a reported 60 pounds in just four short months. How did he do it? Vacationing! He ate his way through Italy and France between filming to perfect his out of shape look. Pasta, cheese and bread will do it! Sounds like a pretty fun way to get picture-perfect for an iconic film. One source claims that De Niro was wheezing on set due to his extra weight.

Misérables, Indeed

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America’s sweetheart, Anne Hathaway, was put on a total starvation diet to look as emaciated as possible for her show stopping performance in 2012’s Les Misérables. The actress, who played a prostitute dying from tuberculosis, had to shed 25 pounds to look as close to death as possible. She was reportedly put on a cleanse and could only eat two small squares of oatmeal a day. She told Vogue later that year that the experience made her well…miserable. “Looking back on it, it was definitely nuts,” she explains. Good thing her hard work paid off, she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress thanks to her dedicated performance.

Leto Is A True Transformer

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A veteran of insane transformations, Leto starred alongside Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyer’s Club as transgendered woman, Rayon. His character, also stricken with HIV, had to portray a slender image, as well as wear a wig, tons of makeup and women’s clothing. Leto dropped a reported 30 pounds by not eating. Throughout filming he refused to break character and said “After I while I stopped counting (the weight loss). It changes the way you walk, the way you sit, the way you think.”

Four Hours Away To Keep The Beauty Away

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Bombshell Milla Jovovich looks, err… different in the final chapter of Resident Evil which premiered in 2016. The stunning starlet shared this shocking picture on Instagram and described how the process of transforming into the 85 year old version of her character, Alice, took over four hours a day in the makeup chair. She’s virtually unrecognizable with her heavily wrinkled face and dowdy gray strands. This is the sixth time Jovovich has portrayed this character. The look is certainly uncharacteristic of the model and musician’s usually sexy makeup and wardrobe.

It’s A Zoo For Benedict Cumberbatch

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The Oscar-winning actor Benedict Cumberbatch has seriously switched up his look and genre for his role in Zoolander 2. Normally portraying serious characters, Benedict took a stab at comedy and was met with loads of backlash. The actor played the role of “All,” a transgendered model with an androgynous look and long, sleek black locks. More than 21,000 people signed a petition to boycott the film stating that Cumberbatch’s character was demeaning and harmful to non-binary individuals. Some even claimed it was the modern day equivalent of blackface. Maybe best for Benedict to steer clear of comedy.

He Hosed Us All

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Hollywood heartthrob, Johnny Depp looked entirely unrecognizable in the 2016 film Yoga Hosers. He traded his signature dark locks for long tendrils of light brown hair, full bushy goatee, graying unkempt eyebrows, moles, wrinkles, a fake nose and a noticeably thicker midsection. Depp plays Guy Lapointe, a man hunter in this dark horror/comedy written by Kevin Smith and stars alongside his daughter Lily Rose.The film was a total flop, earning only $38,000 at the box office and an average rating of 4 stars. Good thing most of Depp’s transformation happened in the makeup chair so he’s left without any lingering reminders of his film failure.

She Got The Trainwreck Treatment

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Avant-garde actress Tilda Swinton is almost unrecognizable in Amy Schumer’s hit film Trainwreck. Portraying the sexy yet slightly deranged editor-in-chief of raunchy men’s magazine, Tilda dons a long blond wig, heavy amounts of makeup and a serious spray tan – completely uncharacteristic of her usual bare-bones makeup approach and translucent skin. She spent hours in the makeup chair each day applying self tanner, heavy amounts of eye makeup and a wig. The film’s makeup artist describes the process – “She’s [normally] translucent, and we turned her the color of a coconut shell each day,” says explained.

Please Inform Us How You Got This Look

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Hollywood hunk Matt Damon turned into a bit of a frump for the filming of The Informant in 2009. The actor packed on somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds. To achieve his doughy physique he binged on Doritos, McDonald’s and lots of beer with little to no exercise. He described this phase of letting himself go as “absolute heaven.” He told the Daily Mail, “It was very, very easy to gain the weight. It was very, very fun, probably the funnest time I had working, because I didn’t have to go to the gym after work and I just ate everything I could see.”

He’s Seriously A Machine

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The king of crazy transformations, Christian Bale then went on to drop between 55 and 60 pounds for his role in 2004’s The Machinist. Existing on coffee, apples and one can of tuna a day he was able to drop the weight in just a few short months. Even crazier – six months after filming ended, he gained over 100 pounds for his role in Batman by carbo loading and hitting the gym hard. Bale was apparently annoyed that his weight loss and gain overshadowed some of his performances in both films. You can’t deny that he’s one of the hardest-working actors in the business.

50 Cent, 50+ Pounds

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Rapper 50 cent took to the screen in 2011 with a dramatic new look. He portrayed a cancer-stricken football player in All Things Fall Apart and had to drop a whopping 54 pounds. By eating only a liquid diet and spending three hours a day on the treadmill, he accomplished his goal in just a few short months. “I had so much muscle on me that it was hard for me to lose definition even as I got lighter and slimmer. I started running to suppress my appetite,” he explains. Sadly, the film bombed at the box office, proving that not all tough transformations pay off.

It Ain’t Easy Being A Swan

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Natalie Portman, starring as the leading lady opposite Mila Kunis in Black Swan, had quite a grueling regimen preparing for her role. Portman worked out five hours a day, six days a week until she dropped down to teeny tiny 98 pounds. She swam an hour a day, did an hour of fitness program Ballet Beautiful then rehearsed her dances for the film for an additional three hours. Natalie admitted to the press that she was “barely eating and working 16 hours a day.” Her figure became so slight and frail that she had to ease her way back into a regular diet so as not to make herself sick. Overall the experience was a positive one for her though. She married her co-star/choreographer Benjamin Millepied and won an Academy award.

Hustlin’ To Gain Weight

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Christian Bale went the total opposite side of the spectrum for his role in 2013’s American Hustle. Once again he was completely unrecognizable. This time he packed on more than 50 pounds, shaved his head and grew out some serious 1970s facial hair. The key to his weight gain? “I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers and whatever I could get my hands on. I literally ate anything that came my way,” he explains.

The next actress wasn’t pleased with her massive weight loss.

“It Looked Disgusting”

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Mila was offered the role of wild child prima ballerina TK in Black Swan without even auditioning. Meaning she had to work extra hard to perfect her part when it came to filming. The stunning star trained four hours a day, seven days a week, for seven months. She explains, “I had one day off on my birthday and a half day off for the Emmys and the Golden Globes…by the end I was 95 pounds.” She describes herself as looking like skin and bone. “It looked disgusting but in photographs and on film, it looked amazing”, says Kunis.

How Did She Do It?

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The blond bombshell is completely unrecognizable for her role as real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, who was executed in 2002 for murdering six men. Theron reportedly gained 30 pounds for the role, wore minimal makeup and prosthetic teeth. She also had her skin layered with washed-off tattoo ink to give it a weathered, chapped appearance and her eyebrows were partially shaved off and bleached out. Don’t worry – she won an Academy Award for the performance and was voted the World’s most desirable woman that year. It sure must have been refreshing to wash that makeup off every night, though.

Southpaw Shocker

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Gyllenhaal transformed his relatively slight stature into a total brawny badass for the the 2015 film Southpaw, bulking up from 145 pounds to 175 in just six months. To prepare for his role he trained with a real boxing coach, Terry Claybon. His workout regimen consisted of at least 2,000 sit ups a day, push-ups, dips, flipping 350 pound tires, and running eight miles five days a week. He trained seven days a week for three hours in the morning, and three hours at night. The process was grueling but overall Jake attributes it with giving him more confidence and allowing him to better deal with stress and anxiety.