Pulling their weight: Celebs who sacrifice bodies for roles

While you have to admire their commitment, we get a little uncomfortable when celebrities engage in rapid weight loss and gain for the sake of a part. Is this really a healthy message to be sending?

Renee Zellweger

Some things just make you want to pick up the closest vase and smash it on the ground; that, or gorge on the nearest pint of ice cream. Case in point: Anne Hathaway is reportedly embarking upon a 500 calorie per day diet to slim down for her role as the doomed (and underfed) Fantine in the upcoming feature film version of the musical Les Miserables. Apparently, the extremely svelte actress has been looking fit and healthy, if not “almost slightly chubby.” Seriously? Anne Hathaway, chubby? Did no one see Love and Other Drugs? Girlfriend could have used a couple of sandwiches.

Anne has 15 to 20 days to drop down to a suitable waifish weight. Under the close watch of a doctor performing weekly medicals, and with the help of a personal trainer, Anne will be consuming no more than a few apples and protein shakes each day. How she’s going to manage functioning, let alone working out with so few calories consumed, is beyond us. But hey, that’s not our concern.

Anne is one of several incomprehensibly dedicated actors who have sacrificed their bodies for the sake of a role. Rapid weight loss or gain is wildly unhealthy for anyone, but for stars who wish to produce the best possible work, that risk is all part of the job. They are also always under very close watch by health professionals, making their commitment a little less dangerous than, for example, someone who decides to go on an unsupervised crash diet. We find this kind of devotion simultaneously inspiring and disturbing: While we applaud actors who have the focus and determination to achieve a new weight in an unnaturally short time span, we also cringe at the thought of the lasting effects it has on the body. Let’s take a look at some other stars who have undergone extreme body transformations for the sake of their art:

Renee Zellweger

Ordinarily, it’s hard to tell if you’re looking at a lamp post or Renee Zelwegger; the Oscar winner is a teensy weensy actress with a barely-there waist. But for her role as Bridget Jones in 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, Renee underwent a weight roller coaster the likes of which we rarely see. Renee gained 28 pounds in a very short period of time. To do this, she kept to a strict diet of pizza, doughnuts and other junk food. And, of course, she stopped exercising entirely. Sound like a dream? Not really, considering that this rapid weight gain was then followed with equally speedy weight loss, complete with tiny, controlled portions and excessive exercise, once she wrapped the movie. As if that wasn’t enough of a toll on her body, Renee did the whole thing again for the 2004 sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. She now remains in her miniscule frame, but we marvel at how she was able to transform so quickly not once, but twice, and still stand tall. That’s a lot of change for such a little lady.

Christian Bale

For his role as an industiral worker suffering from a mean case of insomnia in The Machinist, Christian Bale famously dropped 63 pounds, leaving the 6’2″ star alarmingly thin. In order to do so in a span of just a few months, Christian stuck to the depressing diet of Coffee, cigarettes and one apple per day. Kind of makes Anne Hathaway’s Les Miserables diet seem like a binge. Christian claims he would not have undergone this kind of risky metamorphosis had he not believed that the film was worth seeing. Talk about dedication! Especially since his next role was as the muscular Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Begins, for which he gained back all his weight, plus 30 extra pounds.

Charlize Theron

The good news is she won a best actress Oscar for her role in Monster. The not so great news is that part of her transformation into Aileen Wuornos for the 2003 film meant packing on 30 pounds. Involved in this was the unhealthy consumption of a steady stream of Krispy Kremes and potato chips. The weight came right off the beautiful actress and former model when she was done filming and she was back to her stunning appearance to accept her Oscar. We’re glad her commitment was worth it in the end as far as a boost in her career, but we’re a bit uneasy thinking about all those trans fats clogging Charlize’s lovely arteries so aggressively. Hopefully, she’s since managed to clean it all out.

Image courtesy WENN.com

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