Sometimes "getting into character" means a certain level of body modification. Whether it's slimming down, bulking up, or something more painful, Hollywood's finest will go the distance.
Matthew McConaughey is undergoing quite a transformation from the beefcake bod he showed off in Magic Mike. McConaughey is carrying on an extreme diet to slim down and add a sense of realism for his role as an AIDS patient in the upcoming film The Dallas Buyers Club. So far, the 42-year-old actor has dropped 30 pounds and counting.
If you ever wondered what Anne Hathaway would look like with a buzz cut, you can put your curiosity to rest. The 29-year-old former Oscar nominee is set to play Fantine in the big screen adaptation of Les Miserables. To get into the role of a poor single mother who turns to prostitution and eventually battles tuberculosis, Hathaway chopped her long flowing locks and started a 500 calorie a day diet to appear more gaunt.
Christian Bale is no stranger to abusing his body for a part. He can buff up for a role like Batman, but most striking is his ability to drop weight. Bale famously dropped a record-setting 65 pounds to get down to a weight of 110 for The Machinist. He did the skinny thing again to play drug addict and boxer Dicky Eklund in The Fighter, which paid off with an Oscar.
You almost wouldn't recognize Rooney Mara if your only exposure to the young actress was her breakout role as Lisbeth Salander in the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The beautiful Mara delved deep into her character's dark persona and didn't shy away from actually piercing her ears, lip, nose, and nipples. And she did them all in one session!
Like Christian Bale, Matt Damon regularly changes his body depending on his next movie. He fattened up for The Informant, slimmed down to a gaunt look in Courage Under Fire, and got ripped for the Bourne movies. Heck, he even went bald for his most recent project.
Charlize Theron is an exceptionally beautiful woman, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a single person who would call her Oscar-winning portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos sexy. The Monster star not only let the make-up artists make her look old and haggard, but she gained 30 pounds of extra weight for the part.
The average person would probably call Natalie Portman skinny (and they'd be right), but even she had to shed some pounds to play a ballerina in Black Swan, which goes to show just how brutal ballet can be on the body. Portman certainly looked the part, and even went through a year of training to minimize the use of a stunt double. Now she has an Oscar for her efforts.
Losing weight is one thing, but losing body hair for a movie is a whole other (and more painful) story. Steve Carell and director Judd Apatow wanted the waxing scene in 40 Year Old Virgin to involve as little "acting" as possible, so they went for the real thing. Those screams coming from Carell are far from fake because that's actually his own hair being ripped from his chest.
Throughout her career, Renee Zellweger has battled tabloid rumors dissecting her slender frame, so in a way, her work in the Bridget Jones films was kind of a "screw you" to the rumor mill. Zellweger had no problem plumping up to play Jones, adding a solid 25 pounds for the part.
Tom Hanks is one of the most beloved actors in the biz most likely for his charming personality, but his dedication to the craft probably has something to do with it, too. Hanks definitely committed to his character's battle for survival in Cast Away, losing weight to reflect a realistic look at what would happen to a man left stranded on an uninhabited island.
Say what you will about the cultural importance of music videos, but Alicia Silverstone thought highly enough of her casting in Aerosmith's "Cryin'" video that she got her belly button pierced on camera and in character. So if she looks scared in the scene where she gets a needle in her abdomen, it's probably because she was.
Don't write 50 Cent off as just a blowhard tough guy rapper. 50 fell deep into his character for 2011's Things Fall Apart. Playing the part of a football player diagnosed with cancer, Cent dropped a whopping 50 pounds with an all liquid diet and three-hour treadmill stints for nine weeks. The result was almost too extreme to be believed.
Eric Bana has always been a fit dude, but he's never been as beefy as he was for his role in the Australian crime flick Chopper. Bana admitted to eating a ton of junk food to put on the extra 30 pounds of mass for the part. With the bonus weight, chipped tooth, and full-body tats, Bana is practically unrecognizable as the lead in the film.
When a role of a lifetime calls for slow starvation, you're going to have to look pretty emaciated to pull it off. Emile Hirsch was up to the challenge when Sean Penn cast him in the real life story Into the Wild. The actor dropped 30 pounds as shooting went on to dramatize what his real life counterpart went through.