We may think that being an actor is a piece of cake. We see nothing but the fame and fortune that actors get over time, however, we often end up forgetting about the difficulties and the challenges that actors face to perform a role or even when getting into the mindset of playing a physically or mentally taxing role. They are often forced to make drastic physical changes that often take a toll on their physical as well as their mental health.
Some actors cannot bounce back from the roles they play and some develop an attachment to the roles that they play. Being an actor is not all about the flashy cars and amazing clothes. Many of them put themselves through a tough regimen to play the different roles that we love watching on the big screen. Their job is just as hard and strenuous, if not more difficult as a 9 to 5 desk job. So, we did some digging and came up with 15 roles that took a toll on the actors that played them.
15 Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger was just 28 years old when he passed away and that was shortly after finishing his filming for his role as The Joker in the movie The Dark Knight Rises. The Joker is known to be psychotically evil. People close to the actor said that Heath isolated himself from friends just to get in that mindset. He literally tapped into his dark side and played that role so beautifully that no other man has had the audacity to question his acting. People said that he was so engulfed in his character that he could not separate himself from it in the end. That is most probably why he became addicted to drugs. He was posthumously awarded an Oscar for his incredible performance as the clown prince of Gotham.
14 Natalie Portman – The Black Swan
Natalie Portman has been known to really put a lot of effort into the characters that she plays. In preparing to play for her role in The Black Swan, Portman lost 10 pounds. She said that losing this much weight from her tiny body meant eating almost nothing. She said that she practiced ballet 16 hours a day. Her body felt the pressure of this role and her toenails started falling off. She said that there were some nights that she thought she couldn’t take it anymore. But she did receive an Oscar for her performance in The Black Swan. We’re so glad she got rewarded and recognized for her hard work.
13 Christian Bale – Batman Begins
Christian Bale is probably one of the very few people in all of Hollywood who have gone through some drastic weight change routines to fit into his roles. From being bulked up to skinny to bulked up again, he has done it all. Christian Bale said that when he had to start filming for Batman Begins he had to bulk up. He said that he was up to 220 pounds to play this role. The only way for him to achieve this was to go on a diet of burgers and ice-cream. He often got so sick of eating this food, however, he didn’t give up saying that he actually enjoyed getting sick. He bulked up in a matter of 4 months. Now imagine the amount of food one must have to bulk up so quickly in a 4-month time span. Such an immediate weight change is obviously never healthy and Bale tries to keep his health in check for the most part now.
12 Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables
Anne Hathaway is another actress on our list who has never hesitated from going that extra mile just to make sure that she presents her best performance. This movie is one of our personal favorites. We can never get over the beauty of this one. Talking about Anne Hathaway’s acting in this movie, it was impeccable to say the least. Her character is of a starving prostitute and in order to become that, she chopped off her long locks and only ate lettuce and oatmeal paste to lose 25 pounds. She said that she had to become obsessed with her diet. She ate only to stay alive. She became so thin and fragile that she broke her arm after falling off a bike. All we can say is that she did justice to the role she played.
11 Adrian Brody – The Pianist
The Holocaust was indeed one of the most darkest chapters in the history of the world. Since then, numerous adaptions on both TV and film have been created to show the atrocities committed by the Nazis. One such movie was The Pianist in which Adrian played the role of a Holocaust survivor. He played a man who loses everything, even his family. To really get into this role, he sold his apartment, his car, disconnected his phone, packed his bags and left for Europe. He really wanted to feel those emotions of despair and loneliness. He distanced himself from his friends and everything good. He also said that he lost 30 pounds in 3 weeks to really get into character. This role didn’t only affect him physically, it also took a toll on him mentally. According to him, it took a while for him to get back to reality.
10 Cuba Gooding Jr. – The People Vs O. J. Simpson
This one is more along the lines of an actor messing up his voice rather than his mind. Gooding played the role of O. J. Simpson. He destroyed his voice to a point that he eventually had to get a vocal coach. The coach did not find anything wrong with his throat or vocal chords for that matter. Despite all of this, however, his voice has not yet returned to normal. He also consulted a throat specialist, but he didn’t find anything wrong either. We understand the passion that some actors can have when really getting into a character but who in their right minds would hurt their voice? Well, Gooding certainly has a passion for acting.
9 Patrick Wilson – The Conjuring 2
Look, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in ghosts or not but we’re certainly not ones to watch horror movies and then sleep peacefully afterwards. When Patrick was filming The Conjuring 2, he became so paranoid and so afraid that even the slightest movements scared the life out of him. He even started thinking that his house may be haunted and ending up calling for an immediate ‘exorcism’. He often brought priests on set just as a precaution. He said that he was always really scared on set and it took a long time for him to be okay. We get it. Even if you watch the movie for the 10th time, it would still scare you like it did the first time. What Patrick went through is a bit too much to follow your passion we’d say.
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8 Jennifer Lawrence – Mother
Mother is a psychological thriller that involves unwanted guests invading Jennifer’s character’s home which results in some really freaky paranormal activities. There is one part where the movie shows a human baby sacrifice. Yes, they went there. This intense role totally messed with Jennifer’s head. There was one scene where she hyperventilated so hard that she dislocated a rib and the cherry on top was that the director ended up saying that the shot was blurry, so they had to reshoot the entire scene. Isn’t that just so unfortunate? But, kudos to Jennifer, she ended up doing an exceptional job, further proving that not only is she a good actress but she is willing to go to any lengths to prove her talent and skill.
7 Mila Kunis – Black Swan
Black Swan was the movie that really revealed the dark secrets of the intense world of ballet. It didn’t only reveal secrets, but it was also very intense on the actors’ bodies and mental health. To get in shape for her character, Mila stuck to a 1200 calorie diet. It is a safe diet but add 4 hours training for ballet, every day for weeks on end. She threw in smoking cigarettes too and that helped her get the body that was required for her role. She said that she tore a ligament and got scars on her back too because of the intense lifting. After shooting for this movie, she said that even though she gained all of her lost weight instantly, her body has never been the same.
6 Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby
It is quite obvious that when you sign a contract for a boxing movie, you must gain weight. Hilary was always fit and athletic but for this movie she had to eat raw egg whites every day. Since eating 60 egg whites was next to impossible, she drank them every day in the morning. She said that she had to wake up in the middle of the night to drink protein shakes. It sounds exciting doesn’t it? We’ve all tried strict diet regimens whether it is to gain weight or lose some and we all know how that goes. She said that she had to gain a ton of muscle. She did get bloody noses a couple of times but did not sustain any serious injuries during filming. Talk about working hard for just one film.
5 Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Dallas Buyers Club is a movie that revolves around a man who has been diagnosed with AIDS and his fight for getting everybody access to that medication. We have to admit it is one hell of a movie and the entire concept behind it is amazing, shedding light on to one of the biggest issues in our present society. So beautifully scripted and well directed, it sends chills down your spine when you first watch it. McConaughey had to lose quite a lot of weight to fit the character of an AIDS patient. He said that he did so in the healthiest way possible, however, losing such a huge amount of weight did end up affecting his overall health in the long run, even going on to say that he hasn’t felt the same since that role.
4 Tom Hardy – The Dark Knight Rises
Hardy is known for his roles that usually require some broken bones. He broke several of his bones while filming for his movie Warrior and even broke his nose while filming for Mad Max: Fury Road. This time he had to put on a ton of weight to play the character of Bane. Hardy says that putting on weight is something that is easier when you’re young and not something that can be done when you’re older without it affecting you negatively in some sort of way. He said that one has to be mindful while putting on weight after someone is in his 40s. Your body isn’t the same as before and you can’t afford losing and gaining weight so rapidly.
3 Christian Bale – The Machinist
Here we have Christian Bale yet again on our list. As we’ve talked about him before, he is no stranger to putting in all of his effort in order to make a character successful. In this movie, he played the role of an insomniac. He lost a crazy amount of weight for it and it got so bad, to the point that his friends feared for his life. He lost so much weight that his body started eating itself and his hips fell from his bone structure. He also broke several bones during the shooting of this movie. Right after filming for this movie, he was offered the role of Batman which meant bulking up. All we can say is that he did an amazing job in both of them.
2 Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
In order to get into the character that Mara was hoping to play, she had lose a ton of weight even though the director of the movie didn’t really ask for it. Mara really wanted her role to be a success so she decided to do it anyway. One thing the director did ask, however, was the she come in drunk so that pictures of her could be taken. This lead to a long streak of days where Mara would come in absolutely drunk and hung over. She ended up suffering from mild liver damage because of the excessive drinking but all of the rigor of the filming left her with a supermodel thin figure that she has maintained even to this day.
1 Nicole Kidman – Moulin Rouge
Nicole Kidman is perhaps one of the most resilient actors around and thi9s has been proved time and time again by her acting and methods. The movie Moulin Rouge was really hard on her. She fell from the stairs during a musical number and injured her knee. The knee kept giving her problems due to which she had to drop out of her role in Panic Room. She also broke a bone during filming, but it was not a Moulin Rouge related injury. She also recalled an incident where she had to get her corset so tight that she snapped one of her ribs. Despite having the injury, she ended up shooting most of the film with a broken rib. Her amazing spirit and passion for acting can be easily seen throughout the movie.
References: Jelly Share, Looper
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