While actresses looking gaunt isn’t really news because their job requires them to be gaunt all the time (they have to go “ugly” as awards season bait), their male counterparts have an easy time making headlines and winning critical praise with method weight loss. Here are 10 dramatic examples of actors who lost weight for a role, the most recent example being…
“I knew that [my character] was literally and figuratively hungry,” says Gyllenhaal of his dramatic weight loss. The actor will play a freelance crime reporter “who discovers a dark underground world” next year in Night Crawler, but until then, all us bloggers can just freak out about how different he looks.
“I think [I’ve lost] probably a little over 20 pounds, something like that,” he says.
Jared Leto (twice)
…Which brings us to Jared Leto, who not only had to lose “30-40 lbs” to play an HIV-positive transsexual in this year’s Dallas Buyers Club, but had to shave off 28 lbs back in 2000 for Requiem for a Dream. In between, he gained 67 pounds to play Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27. That up there is a photo taken by his pal Terry Richardson, showing the most recent havoc wreaked on his body.
Leto’s co-star in Dallas Buyers Club, the famously well-muscled McConaughey, got down to 133 lbs by subsisting this horrible way: “I’d have a Diet Coke, two egg whites in the morning, a piece of chicken, then another Diet Coke. That was rough.”
One of the more infamous transformations on the list, Bale ate nothing but a can of tuna and an apple a day to prepare for The Machinist. At his lowest, he was only consuming a latte.
Damon made himself sick to play a heroin addicted soldier in Courage Under Fire: “I ran six miles in the morning and six miles at night, and I’d drink four to six pots of coffee to be able to run that distance. When I went into a restaurant, the first thing I would tell the waiters was, ‘I’m your worst nightmare.” I wouldn’t waver from my diet. It got so bad that when my girlfriend kissed me, I’d have to wash my mouth out because I could taste the oils on her lips from the food she’d eaten.”
In order to convincingly play an angsty teen in 2001’s Life as a House (despite being in his early 20s), Christensen lost 25lbs for Life as a House by consuming nothing but salad, water and vitamins.
To play hunger-striking political prisoner Bobby Sands in his first Steve McQueen collaboration Hunger, Fassbender consumed 900 calories a day in sardines, berries and nuts… until his weight plateaued and he had to live on even less.
Playing a cancer patient for Things Fall Apart, the normally-jacked rapper dropped from 214 pounds to 160 in just nine weeks thanks to a diet of liquids and three hours spent on the treadmill every day.
For 2009’s Triage, Farrell played a combat photographer who returns home from Kurdistan, haunted and emaciated. Farrell lived off two tins of tuna a day, which he supplemented with black coffee and diet Coke for “energy” on set.
Although we prefer to remember Welles as the tanked sparkling wine enthusiast from those perfect commercial outtakes, he also directed some movies. In one of them, a little seen gem called Citizen Kane, he had to lose about 50 lbs to play a younger version of the eponymous Charles Kane. Welles subsisted on orange juice, boiled eggs and salads for a month to do so. Hopefully he celebrated his return to eating with some French champagne (or an exquisite California facsimile).
(Photos via Getty, Wenn, Pacific Coast News)