Charlize Theron won her Oscar for de-beautifying in ‘Monster’, Robert De Niro scooped the second of his Academy Awards for getting muscly, then flabby in ‘Raging Bull’. But while changing their face and bodies paid off for these two stars, sometimes actors put themselves through hell when it totally wasn’t worth it. Here are our favourite examples.
50 Cent – ‘All Things Fall Apart’
Still best-known as a rapper, 50 Cent has been building a career as an actor in mid-level movies and straight-to-DVD actioners for some years. But clearly frustrated with his lack of thespian respect, he took on the role of an American footballer who falls ill with cancer in the 2011 film called ‘All Things Fall Apart’. While filming, he Tweeted pictures of himself emaciated and frail, four stone lighter than his usual six-pack and three squares a day look. Achieved via running and a hardcore liquid diet, he told an interviewer at the time, “I think the world took note because people kept making comparisons with great actors like Tom Hanks in ‘Philadelphia’.”
Only they didn’t. The gossip sites picked up on the pictures, but no-one cared about the movie which went straight to video in the UK.
Matthew Fox – ‘Alex Cross’
Fox had finished ‘Lost’ and was looking for big-screen challenges when he signed up as the villain in the much-anticipated 2012 movie reboot of the Alex Cross book series by James Patterson. Facing off against Tyler Perry as Cross, Fox played a cage-fighting serial killer and lost a whopping 44lbs in a diet regime that he admitted he “f*****g hated”.
Having spent months eating skinless chicken breasts and steamed broccoli, he must have been excited to read the reviews of his transformative performance. Or maybe not – the movie holds a 12% rating on reviews website Rotten Tomatoes and has been variously described as “dross”, “wretched” and “unintentionally funny”, while only making a feeble £17million at the worldwide box office.
Jared Leto – ‘Chapter 27’
Often considered one of the best-looking actors in the world, a pre-Oscar Leto was clearly trying to shrug off his pretty boy image when he gained 67lbs to play John Lennon’s murderer Mark Chapman opposite Lindsay Lohan in 2007 drama ‘Chapter 27’.
The additional weight ravaged his body, rocketing his cholesterol levels to those of OAPs and causing him to get gout. His performance was praised by the ten people who ended up seeing the film, but the lasting damage to his health and the fact he had to star opposite Lohan was surely not worth it.
Demi Moore – ‘GI Jane’
Moore’s fame was on the wane when she played Jordan O’Neill in this 1997 action-drama and having cashed in (to the tune of £8million) by showing her breasts in ‘Striptease’ the previous year, she needed to go one better.
Cue a shaved head – feel that, Natalie Portman! – in what is generally considered to be one of Ridley Scott’s misfires, about a character training to be the first woman in the Navy’s Special Warfare Group. The beautiful star pulled off the look and got tabloid headlines, but it failed to get her more actorly respect.
Mark Wahlberg – ‘The Gambler’
Hold on, Wahlberg transformed for this role? Apparently, yes. Having built up his muscle for ‘Transformers: Age Of Extinction’, the star lost 60lbs by drinking almond milk three times a day to play a college professor-cum-gambler in the new movie, which initially had people talking Oscar.
Unfortunately, the awards chat soon petered out, but what mostly baffles us about this weight loss is how undemonstrative it is. Mark, if you’re going to change your body, make sure the audience realises.
Christian Bale – ‘The Machinist’
Alongside De Niro, Bale’s skeletal form is the personification of movie star transformation. Dropping 63lbs got the actor column inches (even if the brutal diet was done accidentally), but it severely affected his health and ‘The Machinist’ was, in fact, a commercial failure.
In other words, while lots of people have seen the picture above, comparatively few people have seen the film or the performance that accompanied it. So was it worth it? His method preparation has become part of his mystique, but if you weigh up the damage he did to his body versus the impact of the film, then most definitely not.
Joaquin Phoenix – ‘I’m Still Here’
Honest, said Phoenix in 2008, I’m giving up acting and becoming a rapper. The ‘Inherent Vice’ star’s announced transition to hip-hop star was the reason for his change in both physicality and personality. Hair was grown long, the beard was massive, sunglasses omnipresent. And his normally offbeat sensibility became even more eccentric, with bizarre appearances on talk shows and idiotic music performances.
Of course, it all turned out to be a prank, part of Phoenix and director Casey Affleck’s mock documentary which came out two years later in 2010 and…well, it came out. While the filmmakers were probably very pleased with themselves for their ruse, no-one else really gave a toss and before long, the actor was back doing what he does best, scoring an Oscar nomination for ‘The Master’.
Rooney Mara – ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’
Mara was the toast of Hollywood after scoring the role of edgy hacker Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s 2011 American remake of Stieg Larsson’s bestseller. She threw herself into the role, chopping her hair into Salander’s unique ‘do and eschewing fake piercings – getting real ones in her eyebrow, ears and nipple.
Unfortunately, the studio’s dream of a lucrative franchise never came to fruition, though Mara’s performance was praised. But the shadow of the brilliant Swedish originals hung heavy over the remake (as did original Lisbeth Noomi Rapace) and Mara’s efforts were mostly in vain. Not only that, but she kept the nipple piercing long after filming in case they did sequels. Probably okay to take it out now, Rooney.
Photos: PA/Twitter/Summit Entertainment/Kristin Callahan/Rex/Everett/Moviestore