I recently watched 2014’s Nightcrawler, and I have to say that it is one heck of a directorial debut by Dan Gilroy. Of the many things that are impressive in the movie, Jake Gyllenhal’s performance has to be at the very top. And equally striking is his lean figure for which he dropped 20 pounds. It ain’t that easy to lose weight, as many of us would know, but some actors have chosen to go scarily skinny to get the right look for their character. Call it dedication, or call it a bit excessive, but it must have been hard work. I have put together some of the famous roles for which actors lost a good deal of pounds. Worth a look!
Matt Damon in Courage Under Fire (1996)
Matt Damon had still not achieved his Good Will Hunting fame yet which was to release a year later. But he caught the attention of many with his role in Courage Under Fire where he was required to lose significant weight for the later scenes. Through a strict regimen of food deprivation and physical training, Damon lost 40 pounds for the character, which he had to put back on while shooting for Good Will Hunting.
Tom Hanks in Cast Away (2000)
Tom Hanks can seamlessly move into the skin of any character that he wants to portray on-screen. But he would never had to shed so much weight as he did in Cast Away to play the role of a survivor on a deserted island. He lost about 50 pounds to play the parts when his character is on the island, and shooting was also stopped to allow him to become leaner and grow a beard. Tom Hanks also lost about 26 pounds previously to play an AIDS-stricken character in his Oscar-winning performance in Philadelphia.
Christian Bale in The Machinist (2004)
Scary appearance! Christian Bale played an insomniac worker in The Machinist, for which he brought down his weight to about 110 pounds, which was a 63-pound drop. In one interview he quoted, “I was intrigued by a perverse nature of mine just to see if I can go beyond what I’ve been told is actually safe and OK, and see if I could push the limits.” He did then quickly bulk up to play a certain character called Batman in 2005.
Natalie Portman in Black Swan (2013)
Natalie Portman won the Oscar for her portrayal of a ballerina in Black Swan. She lost 20 pounds to fit the kind of look that a ballerina would have. She was even credited for most of the dance moves in the film, though this became a matter of controversy later on.
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Matthew McConaughey put on one of his best acts in the biopic Dallas Buyers Club which won him an Oscar. He played a cowboy who has been stricken with AIDS. For the role, McConaughey lost close to 50 pounds. He also stayed six months indoors to become paler. His co-star Jared Leto also lost about 30 pounds for his role in the movie, winning an Oscar too.
Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables (2013)
Anne Hathaway lost 25 pounds for her role in the musical Les Misérables of a poverty-stricken factory worker who is forced to turn to prostitution. Hathaway lost weight in two stages – 10 pounds before shooting and 15 pounds during the shoot. She has not discussed on her weight loss much citing that she doesn’t want to glamorize or promote her methods to young women.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (2014)
Jake Gyllenhaal lost about 30 pounds for his role of a deranged man in the world of journalism. The weight loss was supposedly Gyllenhaal’s idea as he visualized his character to be like a hungry coyote. Gyllenhaal tried to eat as few calories as possible to achieve this form, and would go on 15-mile runs from his home to the film’s set. He reportedly would chew flavored gum to trick his mind into believing he was eating a meal.