- Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.
- Many actors have transformed their bodies for movie roles.
- Joaquin Phoenix lost more than 50 pounds to play the latest incarnation of the Joker in the Warner Bros. movie.
- Plenty of other stars have lost weight for movie roles, including Christian Bale and Natalie Portman.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Many actors will transform their bodies to get in character for a role. Sometimes that includes gaining or losing weight for movie and TV roles.
Some of the same actors who have gained an extreme amount of weight for roles have also gone on diets and even stopped eating for their Oscar-nominated and winning roles as ballerinas, journalists, AIDS patients, and more.
Keep reading to see which actors have lost weight for movie roles.
Jake Gyllenhaal went all-out to lose 30 pounds for his role in “Nightcrawler.”
- Open Road Films via YouTube
The actor told Variety he didn’t take on any special diet. Instead, he just stopped eating.
“I would try to eat as few calories as possible,” said Gyllenhaal. “I knew if I was hungry that I was in the right spot. Physically, it showed itself, but chemically and mentally, I think it was even a more fascinating journey. It became a struggle for me.”
Gyllenhaal added that he would often go on 15-mile runs from his home to the film’s set.
Natalie Portman dropped 20 pounds to play a ballerina in “Black Swan.”
- Fox Searchlight
The 33-year-old actress revealed the extent of her preparation for the role to Entertainment Weekly.
“There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die,” Portman told EW. “It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down.”
After filming ended, the singer quickly returned to carbs. At the time, she had also announced a pregnancy with her now-husband, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, who she met on set.
Mila Kunis also lost 20 pounds for her role in the same movie.
- Fox Searchlight
Kunis was pretty vocal about her dismay with her frail body.
“I could see why this industry is so f—-d up, because … I would literally look at myself in the mirror and I was like: ‘Oh my God! I had no shape, no boobs, no a–…,'” she told the Daily Mail. “All you saw was the bone. I was like ‘this looks gross.'”
After filming, the actress binged out at a Panda Express in JFK Airport and an In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles.
Kunis joked, “It took me five months to lose 20 pounds, and it took me hours to gain it back!”
Chris Pratt lost 60 pounds in six months for the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie.
- “Guardians of the Galaxy”/Marvel
It consisted of running, swimming, boxing, kickboxing, a triathlon, and consuming 4,000 calories a day.
“I actually lost weight by eating more food, but eating the right food, eating healthy foods, and so when I was done with the movie my body hadn’t been in starvation mode,” Pratt told People magazine.
Christian Bale stopped eating and exercising to drop 63 pounds for “The Machinist.”
- Paramount Classics, Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Christian Bale wasn’t even asked by director Brad Anderson of “The Machinist” to drop to 122 pounds for the film. He told the BBC he wanted to do it all on his own.
“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,” Bale said.
Bale’s daily diet consisted of consuming vitamins, running, and eating an apple and can of tuna a day. He then gained nearly 100 pounds, getting back up to 220 pounds in about five months to play the Caped Crusader in “Batman Begins.”
“I will adjust for what is needed,” Bale told People. “But only if I have quite an obsession about that role.”
Anne Hathaway lost 16 pounds to play a prostitute in “Les Miserables.”
Anne Hathaway shaved her head and dropped 16 pounds on a detox diet for “Les Miserables.”
“This diet makes me break out, so I love that,” Hathaway joked to Allure. “Nothing like living on hummus and radishes and then be all, ‘And I got a pimple. Yeah!'”
The actress also said on “Chelsea Lately” that she became a vegetarian for “The Dark Knight Rises,” living off of kale and dust for training.
Tom Hanks went from 225 pounds to 170 for “Castaway.”
- YouTube/ 20th Century Fox
Hanks has lost and gained weight for a few roles, but his 55-pound weight loss for 2000’s “Castaway” was his most extreme diet.
”Oh, those FFs, man. Those fries from France…,” said Hanks. “The only thing I did not give up was coffee … Nope, wasn’t about to!”
Ben Kingsley shaved his head and lost 20 pounds to play Gandhi.
Kingsley, whose father is of Indian descent, underwent extensive preparation for the role – reading biographies, studying photographs, shaving his head, and losing 20 pounds on Gandhi’s very own vegetarian diet.
While talking about his role to The New York Times, Kingsley said, ”When I have totally immersed myself in the mechanical, logical preparation of a part, if I and my craft are totally bonded and fully exploited, something else in me is awakened and begins to inform my work.”
50 Cent lost around 50 pounds for “All Things Fall Apart.”
- Getty/Cheetah Vision
In 2010, 50 Cent shocked fans with a photo of himself looking unrecognizably skinny for a role as a promising college football player struggling with cancer.
Chris Hemsworth went on a restricted diet with his costars for “The Heart of the Sea.”
The “Thor” actor told “Good Morning America” he dropped 33 pounds in about four weeks on a 500-calorie-a-day diet.
Hemsworth expanded a bit more about his diet with Men’s Health.
“At one point, a day’s rations were a boiled egg, a couple of crackers, and a celery stick,” said Hemsworth, who shared a photo of his weight loss while prepping for the role on Instagram.
He said it was a diet he “wouldn’t recommend.”
Dan Stevens dropped 30 pounds after leaving “Downton Abbey.”
“It was for a role. It’s always me, just different incarnations, different roles, different costumes and different sizes,” Stevens said on “The Graham Norton Show” in 2013.
Since starring in “Beauty and the Beast” the star swims, does yoga, and has a dairy-free diet. Stevens recently wrapped up the final season of FX’s “Legion.”
Matthew McConaughey lost nearly 50 pounds for his “Dallas Buyers Club” role.
- Anne Marie Fox / Focus Features
McConaughey lost 47 pounds to play an HIV patient in “Dallas Buyers Club,” a role which won him an Oscar.
“The dieting was pretty hard-core. I was losing 7 pounds every week,” McConaughey told the Daily Mail. “I’d have a Diet Coke, two egg whites in the morning, a piece of chicken, then another Diet Coke… That was rough.
“I got down to [143lbs] and I was always hungry, and irritable… My body resembled a baby bird with its mouth open, crying, ‘Feed me, feed me,’ and you realize momma bird ain’t going to feed you. It’s hard,” he added.
The actor also ate tapioca pudding with a tiny sugar spoon slowly to make it last longer. More recently, McConaughey gained 40 pounds for a role in “Gold.”
Jennifer Lawrence went on a strict diet for “Red Sparrow.”
- 20th Century Fox
“‘Red Sparrow’ was the first time that I was really hungry, and disciplined. I can’t be in character as an ex-ballerina and not feel like an ex-ballerina,” Lawrence told Vanity Fair.
The actress said she couldn’t wait to eat European street food when she was done filming the ballet sequences of the film.
“I can’t work on a diet. I’m hungry. I’m standing on my feet. I need more energy. I remember having a meltdown, freaking out that I had eaten five banana chips,” she said.
He wasn’t the only one who lost weight for the role. Jared Leto said he stopped eating to lose over 30 pounds for “Dallas Buyers Club.”
- Ethan Miller/Getty Images, Focus Features
“I just basically didn’t eat. I ate very little,” said Leto to EOnline.com about dropping to about 116 pounds to play a transsexual with HIV and then AIDS in the 2013 movie.
“It was 30 or 40 pounds,” Leto told TheWrap of how much weight he lost. “After a while, I stopped counting.”
Leto said the weight loss affected everything from the way he walked and talked to making him feel fragile and unsafe.
Lily Collins underwent check-ups at the doctor to make sure she lost weight safely for “To the Bone.”
The then-28-year-old lost weight to play a young woman battling anorexia in Netflix’s original movie, “To the Bone.”
Collins previously battled eating disorders in the past and was “apprehensive” about playing an anorexic role.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking. You’re doing it for a part, but it’s something so close to you,” Collins told Elle.com. “There’s a fine line between, are you going to fall back into it, are you not? But I was so aware of why I was doing it – for a greater purpose – and also I was more mature.”
Adam Driver was asked to lose weight by Martin Scorsese for his film, “Silence.”
- Mike Coppola/Getty Images, Paramount Pictures
Driver and Andrew Garfield played Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to find their mentor. After traveling for two years from Portugal, Martin Scorsese wanted it to look like they were dropping weight.
“He [Scorsese] asked us to lose a lot of weight. I didn’t know how much that was going to be.” Driver told Interview. “And, I can’t control what’s happening in scenes, but I could control when I ate food.
“That visual part of the storytelling, I don’t think I’ve ever taken it to the extreme before,” he added. “It’s an interesting thing. You’re so hungry and so tired at some points that there’s nothing you can do-you’re not adding anything on top of what you’re doing.”
Jonah Hill lost about 40 pounds for “Moneyball.”
Hill said he went to a nutritionist to help him slim down for the 2011 movie. He told ABC News his diet looked like something from a six-year-old’s birthday party – chicken fingers and pizza. He started eating more veggies.
“I went to a nutritionist and then I started physically running instead of emotionally running,” Hill said on Kidd Kraddick in the Morning. He said he also started doing push ups each day.
“I think I started at like 10 [pushups] and then I just worked my way up and now I do 100 every day,” he said.
Joaquin Phoenix lost 52 pounds to play the latest incarnation of the Joker.
- Warner Bros.
The Joker is Batman’s biggest foe and to take on the role in Warner Bros.’ standalone movie, Phoenix ate little more than an apple a day.
“I wanted the character to look hungry and unhealthy, like a malnourished wolf,” director Todd Phillips said in the film’s production notes, saying it was his idea for Phoenix to lose the weight.
Because of the actor’s weight change, star Zazie Beetz said they couldn’t go back and do reshoots.
Michelle Pfeiffer said she was on a diet of “tomato soup and Marlboros” while filming “Scarface.”
- Taylor Hill/FilmMagic, Universal Pictures
At a 35th anniversary panel for the film in 2018, Pfeiffer said she went on an extreme diet to play the film’s cocaine addict.
“I tried to time it so that as the movie went on I became thinner and thinner and more emaciated,” Pfieffer said of what was supposed to be a three-month movie shoot.
However, the movie wound up going on for six weeks longer than expected.
“I was starving by the end of it because the one scene that was the end of the film where I needed to be my thinnest, it was [pushed to the] next week and then it was the next week and then it was the next week,” she said. “I literally had members of the crew bringing me bagels because they were all worried about me and how thin I was getting. I think I was living on tomato soup and Marlboros.”