In traditional method acting an actor will stay in character while on set. Some even train in the profession or act out the lifestyle of their character in the weeks and months leading up to production. Through strict dieting, calorie counting going out the window or taking one’s gym goals to new levels, credit’s where it’s due to the actors in this collection of dramatic body transformations.
1.) Matt Damon
Matt Damon sacrificed his Bourne Identity brawn and gained 30 pounds (14kg) to play a whistleblower in 2009’s biographical-crime comedy The Informant. “It was very, very easy to gain the weight. Very, very fun,” Damon said. “I just basically ate everything I could see for a few months.”
2.) Curtis Jackson (a.k.a. 50 Cent)
Rrapper turned actor 50 Cent dropped 54lbs (24 kg) in 2011’s direct-to-dvd drama film directed by Mario Van Peebles, All Things Fall Apart, where he played a promising football running back who had an unexpected fight with a deadly disease that plagued his senior year in college and chances at the NFL.
3.) Matthew McConaughey
The Texan-native shed an incredible 55 pounds (25 kgs) stone for 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club. The hard work paid off as he won the Best Actor Oscar the following year.
4.) Jared Leto
Jared Leto also lost over 40 lbs (18 kgs) from an already light frame for Dallas Buyers Club. But this wasn’t the method actor’s first foray with extreme body transformations for roles. To play the disturbing role of John Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman, in 2007′ Chapter 27, the actor gained a whopping 60 pounds (28kg).
By the end of filming, the extra weight had taken such a toll that he could no longer walk to the set. “I’m not sure it was the wisest choice,” he reflected in the years after its release. “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.”
5.) Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman dropped 20 lbs (9 kg) for 2010’s Black Swan, the psychological thriller film about a tortured ballet dancer. Her punishing schedule left her fearing she was going to die. Her waif-like figure was achieved by eating little more than carrots and almonds and spent eight hours a day in rehearsals for four months.
6.) Mila Kunis
Ukrainian American actress Mila Kunis herself lost 15lbs (7 kgs) for her supporting role in the same 2010 movie by following similarly gruelling routine.
7.) Zac Efron
Zac Efron has always been in good shape, but it’s fair to say he’s come a long way from his High School Musical Days. Having gained 18 pounds (8 kg) to play a Marine in 2012’s The Lucky One, he would later undergo an even more serious body transformation for Baywatch, reducing is body fat to a mere 5%. The actor trained three times a day straight for 12 weeks, consuming no sugar or carbs.
“I don’t ever want to be in that good a shape again. Really,” Efron said in a 2020 interview. “It was so hard. You’re working with almost no wiggle room, right? You’ve got things like water under your skin that you’re worrying about, like making your six-pack into a four-pack. S*** like that, it’s just not – it’s just stupid.”
While he has not ruled out doing it again if the part is right, his main message is, “Take care of your heart, take care of your brain. You’re good.”
8.) Charlize Theron
Charlize gained over 30 pounds (14kgs) to dramatically transformed her appearance while playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003’s Monster, which would later see her pick-up that year’s Best Actress going at the Oscars.
Later, to play the role of Marlo for the film Tully, Charlize had to pile on an even more incredible 50 pounds, but later would explained how losing it was a real struggle – both physically and mentally.
9.) Michael Fassbender
In 2008 Michael Fassbender lost 42lbs (19 kgs) to play Bobby Sands in Hunger, the 2008 historical drama film directed by Steve McQueen about an Irish activist who went on a hunger strike while being detained.