Hollywood actor Jake Gyllenhaal, 42, has been seen showing off his phenomenally ripped figure on set of UFC movie Road House, leaving fans in awe of his transformation from boyish heartthrob to jacked fighter.
But the leading man – who previously bulked up for boxing film Southpaw – shows off his new physique, is just one of many dedicated actors who totally transformed their bodies for film roles.
Some of the most talented actors in the world are known to suffer for their art, and this is never more apt when they speak of following bizarre diets to lose huge amounts of weight at the drop of a hat, or alternatively, to pile on the pounds until they look unrecognisable.
And some, like Renée Zellweger, have been known to yo-yo between heavier and lighter weights for roles, as they juggle their on-set figures with their off-screen physiques.
For many, the phenomenal transformations equalled awards success, such as in the case of Anne Hathaway whose drastic weight loss and shaved head for her role as Fantine in Les Misérables earnt her an Oscar.
Jake Gyllenhaal has transformed his physique to become a ripped and bulky ‘fighter’ as he stars in UFC film Road House, but he isn’t the only actor to go above and beyond for their roles
Bulking up: Jake Gyllenhaal had just come off the back of losing 30lbs to play a crime reporter in Nightcrawler (left) when he had to set about gaining muscle mass for Southpaw (right). First he went back up to his normal weight before adding an additional 15lbs of pure muscle
But, as many of these artists have addressed, the extreme regimes to lose or gain weight took their toll on their mental and physical health.
Here, FEMAIL takes a look at other actors who went the extra mile for their roles, transforming their bodies to the point where they looked unrecognisable…
LOST 60lbs FOR THE MACHINIST (2004)
Christian Bale (left in American Psycho) utterly transformed his body for his role in The Machinist, shocking fans when he appeared gaunt after losing 60lbs
The Fighter: Bale lost 30lbs for his performance as Dicky Eklund, a boxer-turned-trainer, for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (left). Right, for all-star American Hustle, Bale gained 43lbs. The role earned him his second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor
Disappearing into the role: After losing the weight from American Hustle, Bale once again gained 40lbs to play Dick Cheney in Vice. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar
Arguably the master of physical transformations, Bale has shed and gained hundreds of pounds over the years for the sake of his art.
But perhaps none was more dramatic than the skeletal frame he debuted in 2004 psychological thriller, The Machinist.
Christian Bale: Master of weight loss… and gain
As well as The Machinist, Bale has undergone dramatic transformations for films including:
AMERICAN PSYCHO, 2000: Although Bale has not revealed how much he lost for the role of Patrick Bateman, he revealed working out ‘took over his life’ as he shed fat and gained muscle.
BATMAN BEGINS, 2005: Just six months after The Machinist, Bale appeared in Batman Begins and had to get his weight back up to 180lbs.
THE FIGHTER, 2010: Bale lost 30lbs for his performance as Dicky Eklund, a boxer-turned-trainer, for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
AMERICAN HUSTLE, 2013: For all-star American Hustle, Bale gained 43lbs. The role earned him his second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor.
VICE, 2018: After losing the weight from American Hustle, Bale once again gained 40lbs to play Dick Cheney in Vice. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.
The 6ft actor stunned audiences when he appeared a gaunt 60lbs lighter – but the radical transformation wasn’t originally in the script.
In a 2014 interview, co-star Michael Ironside, said the weight loss was the result of a simple typo.
‘The writer is only about five-foot-six, and he put his own weights in,’ Ironside said.
‘And then Chris did the film and Chris said, ‘No, don’t change the weights. I want to see if I make them.’ …
‘So those weights he writes on the bathroom wall in the film are his actual weights in the film.’
He reportedly exercised while surviving on just 260 calories today, consisting of a tin of tuna and an apple, washed down with black coffee and water.
After his weight plummeted to a shocking 121lbs, the actor swiftly bulked up again in just six weeks to play the Caped Crusader in Batman Begins by gorging on pizza and ice cream.
He said: ‘I overdid it because I was enjoying gorging. I was ignoring advice about taking it slowly because my stomach had shrunk, and I should just go with soups.
‘I was straight into pizza and ice-cream and eating five meals in a sitting. My stomach expanded really quickly. I got very sick during that time but I enjoyed getting sick. I didn’t mind it at all.
‘In that short amount of time I did actually go from 121 lbs right back up to 180lbs which is way too fast so that resulted in some doctor visits to get things sorted out.’
But his weight gain efforts didn’t last long because in 2010, he lost nearly 30lbs to play real-life boxer Dicky Eklund, who struggled with drug addiction, in The Fighter.
Describing his regime, Bale said he was ‘just running like crazy’.
‘I could just run for hours on end and I felt really healthy,’ he said.
His next role in American Hustle required fattening up again, and he told People: ‘I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers and whatever I could get my hands on. I literally ate anything that came my way.’
After losing the weight from American Hustle, Bale once again gained 40lbs to play Dick Cheney in Vice, this time opting for ‘a lot of pies’ to help him bulk up.
GAINED 30lbs FOR BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY (2001) AND BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON (2004)
Renée Zellweger famously gained 30lbs to star in the original Bridget Jones’s Diary in 2001, going from a size 4 to a size 14
Back-to-back films: Diminutive Renée Zellweger famously gained 30lbs in just a few months to play Bridget Jones in the original 2001 film (left) – which earned her an Oscar nomination – going from a size 4 to size 14. Two years later she was back to her petite self in Chicago (right)
Diminutive Renée Zellweger famously gained 30lbs in just a few months to play Bridget Jones in the original 2001 film – which earned her an Oscar nomination – going from a size 4 to size 14.
After filming ended, Zellweger cut her 4,000-calorie-a-day diet and returned to her naturally petite frame.
‘For Bridget, I sat around and ate a lot of milky, high fat things,’ she said. ‘And after filming was over, I just stopped and went back to the gym.’
In 2002, Renée added dance training to her routine as she starred as Roxy Hart in movie musical Chicago, for which she also received a nomination.
Just months after filming wrapped, Zellweger once again put on weight to reprise her role in the sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
While the character was not quite as curvaceous as the first time round, it still marked a dramatic change for Zellweger.
However, when it came to filming the third instalment in the films, Bridget Jones’s Baby, Zellweger said she ‘only put on a few pounds’, plus the baby bump and breast pads.
Ahead of the film’s release the actress explained writers wanted Bridget Jones’s Baby to show her on-screen character had ‘achieved her ideal weight’.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Renee revealed: ‘Sharon was hoping we could show that Bridget had achieved her ideal weight, but at the same time it didn’t mean her life was perfect.
‘I wasn’t sure about that one though because we all have something we think is wrong, that needs fixing, that in our own minds represents the ideal that we are meant to obtain.
‘And I like the idea that that stays with us throughout our lives.’
In a separate interview with British Vogue, she added: ‘Bridget is a perfectly normal weight and I’ve never understood why it matters so much. No male actor would get such scrutiny if he did the same thing for a role.’
Anne Hathaway (pictured at a premiere in 2008) went to drastic lengths to lose weight quickly for her role as Fantine in Les Miserables (right) and also shaved her head
LOST 25lbs and shaved her head FOR LES MISERABLES
When she was cast as a starving prostitute, Anne Hathaway decided on a drastic way to lose weight – a diet that can only be described as miserable.
The Hollywood star shed 25lb for her role as Fantine in the film musical Les Miserables – 10lb in three weeks before filming and 15lb during production.
‘I just had to stop eating for a total of 13 days shooting,’ she said in an interview.
‘I was on a starvation diet to look like I was near death in a film… but I went at it with a plan and I had a guide, a nutritionist kind of helped me with it.’
It was later reported she had survived largely on lettuce leaves and a diet of porridge paste.
Speaking to Vogue, she said: ‘Looking back on the whole experience – and I don’t judge it in any way – it was definitely a little nuts.
‘It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that’s who Fantine is anyway.’
However, years later as she looked back on the drastic lengths she went to, Hathaway said she had become ‘really sick’ after losing the weight.
In 2019 she told People magazine she ‘wasn’t in a good place’ while filming Les Miserables.
She said: ‘I’d lost an unhealthy amount of weight in two weeks. I didn’t know anything about nutrition. I taxed my body, and my brain bore the brunt of it for a while. I just felt very anxious and very lost at that time.’
Hathaway added: ‘That weight loss was not a long-term good thing for my health, and it took a really long time to come back from it.’
GAINED 30lbs FOR MONSTER (2003) AND 50lbs FOR TULLY (2018)
Mental health battle: Charlize Theron said she struggled with depression after putting on some 50lbs to play a mother on the brink in Tully (right). Left, the actress before filming
Critical acclaim: Charlize Theron won an Oscar for 2003 film Monster, directed by Patti Jenkins, in which she played real-life serial killer Aileen Wuronos (right on screen). The role required Theron, then in her 20s, to gain some 30lbs. Left, Theron before filming
South African-born actress Charlize Theron is a pro when it comes to dramatic film transformations – and the stress she puts her body under has certainly paid off.
She won an Oscar for 2003 film Monster, directed by Patti Jenkins, in which she played real-life serial killer Aileen Wuronos. The role required Theron, then in her 20s, to gain some 30lbs.
Theron said at the time she relied on a diet of ‘donuts and potato chips’ to pile on the weight for the role, which was met with praise from critics and audiences alike.
The fatty, sugary diet also affected the star’s skin and her usually radiant complexion looked markedly more pallid and blotchy on screen.
The actress pulled off a similar feat for 2018’s Tully, which saw her gain some 50lbs to play a mother on the brink of a mental breakdown.
But while it had been easy to gain and lose weight for Monster, Theron struggled with the Tully transformation and spoke of falling into a depression as a result of the bad diet.
‘It was brutal in every sense,’ she explained at the time. ‘This time around, I really felt it in my health. The sugar put me in a massive depression.
‘I was sick. I couldn’t lose the weight. I called my doctor and I said, ‘I think I’m dying!’ And he’s like, ‘No, you’re 41. Calm down’.’
Jared Leto (pictured left in real life) went down to 116lbs for his role as a transgender woman with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club (right), which he revealed he had done by hardly eating at all
Leto has also been known to gain lots of weight for roles, piling on 60lbs to play Mark David Chapman – the deranged fan who assassinated John Lennon – in Chapter 27 in 2007
Jared is no stranger to losing weight for a role.
While filming for his Oscar-winning role in The Dallas Buyers Club – in which he played a transgender AIDS suffer – he all but stopped eating to lose 40lbs.
The 41-year-old 30 Seconds to Mars frontman told EOnline.com: ‘I got down to 116 or something. I just basically didn’t eat. I ate very little.
‘I had done similar things with weight, but this was different, I think the role demanded that commitment…
‘It was about how does that affect how I walk, how I talked, who I am, how I feel. You know, you feel very fragile and delicate and unsafe.’
The singer and actor admitted some of his family and friends were shocked by his dramatic weight-loss, as they were not aware he was doing the movie.
He explained: ‘It’s not a great thing to see. If you run into people or see family who don’t know what you’re doing, they think that you’re sick.’
He also lost 25lbs in 2000 to play a drug addict in Requiem for a Dream and then gained 60lbs to play Mark David Chapman – the deranged fan who assassinated John Lennon – in Chapter 27 in 2007, making it his most dramatic transformation to date.
By the end of filming, the extra weight had taken such a toll that he could no longer walk to the set and it left him with gout.
‘I’m not sure it was the wisest choice,’ he admits. ‘A friend of mine was recently going to gain weight for a film, and I did my best to talk him out of it. Just because you can lose the weight doesn’t mean the impact it had on you isn’t there anymore.’
He has since vowed never to pile on the pounds for a movie again, as he doesn’t want to put his health in jeopardy.
GAINED 19lbs FOR MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)
Knockout: Yet another star who won an Oscar for their makeover role is Hilary Swank, who took home the Best Actress gong for 2004 film Million Dollar Baby. Producers wanted Swank to gain 10lbs of muscle but she was able to gain 19lbs on a rigorous three-month programme
Yet another star who won an Oscar for their makeover role is Hilary Swank, who took home the Best Actress gong for 2004 film Million Dollar Baby.
To portray a boxer, Swank not only had to learn how to box but undertook a rigorous training programme to shape her body into that of a dedicated athlete who had years of training under her belt.
The actress was just given 90 days before filming started, meaning she had to pack in as much as she could.
‘My training was two and a half hours of boxing and approximately an hour and a half to two hours lifting weights every day, six days a week,’ Swank said at the time.
‘The producers asked me to gain 10 pounds of muscle. I gained 19 pounds of muscle. I started at 110 and went to 129. And in order to do that, I had to eat 210 grams of protein a day.’
It wasn’t the only time Swank had to gain weight for a role, as she was asked to put on 15lbs for her role in the 2012 movie Conviction.
She revealed she had struggled to meet the criteria as it involved a huge change to her diet and general lifestyle.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, she said: ‘For my own needs, I like working out. But to gain weight I stopped that. Besides, this was an independent film. Small budget. We filmed long hours, long days. No time to work out.
‘Normally I only eat until I’m full. On this shoot, I kept eating more. Even when I was full, I’d eat more. With nowhere to go, the weight stays on you.’
LOST 50lbs FOR DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013)
Matthew McConaughey pictured showing off his buff figure on Miami Beach in 2006
Matthew McConaughey looked lean but muscular when he starred in Magic Mike in 2012 (left). The following year he took home an Oscar after losing some 40lbs to play Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club (right)
Another actor who found Oscar success with a dramatic weight loss role is Matthew McConaughey, who took home the Best Actor award after losing some 40lbs to play Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club.
The 6ft actor relied on a meal plan of Diet Coke, egg whites and a piece of chicken a day to slim down, eventually reaching just 143lbs.
‘I met with a nutritionist. I gave myself four months to lose the weight. I had my programmed meals, lost 3.5lb a week – like clockwork – and got down to my desired weight,’ he said at the time.
He insisted that losing weight was ‘honestly not that difficult’ but learning to re-progamme his life was the toughest challenge.
He said: ‘You have to reprogramme all of your habits, and the days get so long. You think it must be lunchtime already, and it’s only 9.30 in the morning.
‘I kept a diary of my nutrition the whole way through, and it is something I will probably share at some point because it was quite the adventure.’
And as the weight dropped from his muscular 183lbs to a scrawny 143lbs, so, too, did his strength.
‘I would do five push-ups and be sore. I would run 30 feet and my legs would lock up.’
Lost 56lbs for Things Fall Apart
Rapper 50 Cent was known for appearing shirtless on stage and on his album covers to show off his muscular physique (left). The hip hop star shocked fans by losing more than 50lbs in just nine weeks to portray a cancer patient in the film Things Fall Apart (right)
At the height of his fame, 50 Cent made much of his muscular body, often appearing topless in videos and showing off his huge frame.
But in 2010, the The 6ft tall hip hop artist went on a strict liquid diet and spent three hours in the gym daily to drop down to almost 11 stone to play a cancer-stricken American football player in Things Fall Apart.
He achieved his rapid weight lost in just nine weeks.
Director Mario Van Peebles said at the time: ‘50 was not at all what I expected.
’50 is a really focused, bright, disciplined, affable cat. In terms of directing him, he’s a dream.’
He also had his tattoos removed on his arms to boost his acting career.
LOST 60lbs FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)
Weight gain… and loss: After gaining weight for hit TV show Parks and Recreation, Chris Pratt weighed almost 300lbs when he auditioned for the role of Star-Lord/Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy. He then lost 60lbs in six months before filming started (right). Left, in 2009
After gaining weight for hit TV show Parks and Recreation, Chris Pratt weighed almost 300lbs when he auditioned for the role of Star-Lord/Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy.
After winning over the director in the audition, he set about losing 60lbs in six months before filming began.
Marvel enlisted the help of personal trainer Duffy Gaver and nutritionist Phil Goglia.
‘He wanted to do justice to the role,’ Gaver – whose clients include Chris Hemsworth, Brad Pitt, and Ashton Kutcher – said in an interview at the time.
‘He wanted more muscle, to be much leaner, and to be more fit…Chris’ athleticism is amazing, he is incredibly disciplined and his work ethic is phenomenal.’
The actor said it was ‘three or four hours a day of just consistent, a**-kicking work’.
Goglia revamped Pratt’s diet, hiking his caloric intake to 4,000 calories a day and adding lots and lots of water—one for every pound he weighed. ‘I was peeing all day long, every day. That part was a nightmare,’ Pratt said.
Gainged roughly 15lbs of muscle for Baywatch
Zac Efron (pictured left in his High School Musical days) had to bulk up for his later role in Baywatch, a process that left him with depression and insomnia
He shot to fame in High School Musical as a skinny all-American teenage hearthrob.
Photos from 2007 show him at the Teen Choice Awards complete with lean arms and a floppy hair style.
But it was a different story by 2020.
Zac undertook an extreme make-over for Baywatch – leaving him with a ripped body, and distinct six-pack with no fat at all.
While many men might have been jealous of his look, Zac later told Men’s Health how creating that body led to serious mental health issues.
Not only did he drink diuretics – which explains why his skin looks like it has no water in it – he also had to stick to a diet of organic protein and leafy greens.
He added that the look took ‘months and months and months of intense workouts’.
And he said the overtraining meant he often started his work-outs at 4am, leaving him sleep deprived.
He said: ‘I started to develop insomnia, and I fell into a pretty bad depression, for a long time.
‘Something about that experience burned me out. I had a really hard time re-centering.”
During Covid, Zac said he began to focus on yoga and stretching alongside his strength training.
But then soon enough, he was cast in another strong-man role – playing the real life wrestler Kevin Von Erich for the biopic The Iron Claw, which will be released this year.
This again meant Zac had to re-create a physique even more ripped than the one needed for Baywatch.
When photos of him were released on Twitter, people wrote that he looked like the Hulk.
Gains approximately 20lbs of muscle each time he plays Wolverine
Hugh Jackman (pictured left with his wife Deborra-Lee Furness) gains approximately 20lbs of muscle when he becomes Wolverine
Hugh Jackman is one of the most beloved Hollywood stars, having proved in recent years he can showcase phenomenal range as he tried his hand at musicals including The Greatest Showman and Les Miserables.
But the singing and dancing 54-year-old is perhaps best known for playing X-Men character Wolverine, the jacked-up superhero with animal senses and enhanced physical capabilities.
As he showcases superhuman strength and saves lives, it is no surprise that the character must display rock-hard muscles and an enormous frame.
Jackman has recently revealed that the transformation into Wolverine (whom he has played several times in different superhero films), involves a gruelling exercise regime and extreme diet, which he has now had to slip in and out of several times in the last 17 years. It is estimated that he gains 20lbs of muscle every time he becomes Wolverine.
As he prepares to take on the role once more to film Deadpool 3, the Australian actor has revealed on the Late Show With Jimmy Fallon how he gets into shape.
He spoke of a diet consisting of a staggering 8,000 calories per day, with a typical menu including black bass with rice and herb sauce, salmon with potatoes, chicken burgers with sweet potatoes and sirloin steak with noodles.
Jackman also appeared on Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace? in which he revealed he trains in the gym for months in advance of filming.
He said that, when he wraps filming on The Music Man (his current project), he will have six months before he begins on set of Deadpool 3, and in that time he will not be working on other projects so as to spend as much time as possible in the gym.
Joking about how much more protein he will have to consume while training, he said: ‘And apologies chickens. Run a mile. Start running now because I’m coming for you.’
The one that started it all: Robert De Niro in Raging Bull (1980)
Before there was Christian Bale, Robert De Niro was the king of transformational method acting – as exemplified in 1980’s Raging Bull. The actor gained 60lbs during the course of filming, taking his physique from ripped (left) to overweight (right)
Before there was Christian Bale, Robert De Niro was the king of transformational method acting – as exemplified in 1980’s Raging Bull.
De Niro plays Italian-American middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta, whose self-destructive behavior is chronicled over the course of several decades.
De Niro took it upon himself to embody all of his character’s iterations.
For the majority of the film he portrayed a lean, dynamic boxer. In the final scenes, his character has fallen out of shape.
The change in body type required De Niro to put on a staggering 60lbs, which was then the record for the most by any actor for a film role.
Setting a trend that continues decades later, De Niro won an Academy Award for his performance.