Life as an actor or actress sometimes involves extreme physical transformations. Whether it’s a request to lose weight or gain it, these stars were asked, and sometimes ordered, to essentially shape shift for the cameras.
While we often hear about actresses being pressured to lose weight for the cameras, it happens to men too. Appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman, Segal said he needed to lose 35 pounds to star alongside Emily Blunt in The Five-Year Engagement (2012). According to Segel, the studio president told him he needed to shed the pounds for it to be “conceivable that Emily Blunt would ever choose [him] to be her husband.”
When Matt Damon signed on for The Informant!, he literally bit off more than he could chew. The movie told the true story of Mark Whitacre, a whistleblower with some secrets of his own. While Whitacre was informing the FBI about his boss’ price-fixing schemes, he was at the same time embezzling millions of dollars from the company. Whitacre is portrayed as a man who is both a dope and intelligent. To achieve the proper look, Damon gained 30 lbs. He did so the old fashioned way, by eating a lot of junk food. He specifically name-dropped Doritos, McDonald’s, and beer while doing press for the movie. Once filming was wrapped, Damon struggled to take the weight off, because apparently even actors are still human. He eventually took up boxing to get back into the classic Matt Damon body shape. It would’ve been fine if he kept the weight on; Matt Damon is super likable no matter how big his belly is.
Comedienne Amy Schumer got the shock of a lifetime when movie executives behind her debut film Trainwreck (2015) told her she had to lose weight. She revealed on Live! with Kelly and Michael that after the film got green-lit, Schumer met with execs who basically told her, in her words, “maybe skip a meal.” They also hired a celebrity trainer who put her on a strict diet and exercise regimen and looked at her “how you would look at a burn victim,” she said. Schumer kept her spirits up and said she proudly lost a whopping…three pounds! The movie was a hit, so it’s safe to say Schumer got the last laugh on that one.
In order to properly portray Mark David Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon, Jared Leto gained 67 lbs. The film, Chapter 27, tells the story of a man slowly going insane, who ultimately makes a horrifying decision. Leto, a naturally slim person, went to extensive lengths to gain the weight. He did the obvious stuff like eating a lot pizza, ice cream, and other forms of junk food. A normal person would stop there, because getting fluffy isn’t really a complicated thing to do. Leto, however, told Starpulse magazine that he would microwave pints of ice cream and drink them. Not only that, he would add olive oil and soy sauce. To be honest, it seems like he was overcomplicating the whole process. He put on so much weight that he developed gout and had to start taking a medicine for his high cholesterol. The worst part is that Chapter 27 was panned by critics and was a box office dud. It turns out that this whole thing was a real waste of soy sauce.
Charlize Theron is a stunningly beautiful actress. When she was cast to play Aileen Wuornos, however, she had to change up her look. The movie, Monster, told the story about Wuornos’ murdering spree between 1989 and 1990. While working as a prostitute, Wuornos kills a man in self defense. Unfortunately, this flips a switch inside of her, and unable to escape life as a prostitute, she begins killing many of her would-be customers across Florida. Theron was literally unrecognizable in the role, for which she gained 30 lbs and also shaved her eyebrows. Theron gained the weight by eating donuts and potato chips, which is a pretty good recipe for weight gain. It’s also the exact opposite way that someone is turned into a serial killer. Nobody eats a bunch of delicious junk food and then decides they need to murder people. If that was the case, society would collapse every Halloween.
While most actors who put on weight for a role get to bask in the glory of suffering for their art, things didn’t work out that way for Ryan Gosling. In 2009, Peter Jackson released The Lovely Bones, a supernatural story about a young girl who gets murdered. The story focuses on her ghost, and is split between her entrance into the afterlife and her family trying to deal with her death. The movie stars Mark Wahlberg as the girl’s father, but originally Ryan Gosling was cast. When Gosling was hired, he decided that the father should be overweight. The actor gained a whopping 60 lbs for the role. Unfortunately, he never ran this idea by Peter Jackson. It turns out that Jackson didn’t agree with Gosling playing an obese dad, and he ultimately was dropped from the film.
According to a 2013 interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, actress Jennifer Lawrence was once told to lose a certain amount of weight or face being fired from a film. She didn’t reveal which film, but she did reveal how low this person, or people, stooped to get her to shed the pounds. “They brought in pictures of me where I was basically naked, and told me to use them as motivation for my diet,” she said.
We hope that whoever that was now feels like a fool knowing that Lawrence is one of the most sought-after actresses in the world, no matter what the scale says. An Oscar-winning Lawrence told the magazine she’ll never allow herself to be pressured like that again. “If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet’, I’m like, ‘You can go f**k yourself,”‘ she said.