22 Actors Who Gained Weight for Roles

There are plenty of celebrities who have lost drastic amounts of weight to prepare for dramatic movie roles, which often lead to awards season glory.

However, the opposite is also true, and many roles require actors to gain weight to accurately portray the character.

From drinking melted ice-cream to packing on pure muscle, here are 25 roles that required weight gain—spot the actors who appear twice.

Vincent D'Onofrio

Full Metal Jacket

A still from "Full Metal Jacket".
Actors Vincent d'Onofrio, Matthew Modine and R.Lee Ermey on the set of "Full Metal Jacket". (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images

Vincent D'Onofrio holds the record for the most weight gained by an actor for a movie role, after he gained 70lbs to play Leonard "Gomer Pyle" Lawrence in Full Metal Jacket.

While the character was initially written as a "skinny redneck," director Stanley Kubrick decided that Leonard would have more impact were he bigger.

D'Onofrio injured his knee during filming thanks to the compounded weight and a fall during an obstacle course scene, and required surgery. However, he managed to lose all of the weight gained in the nine months after filming wrapped.

Mark Wahlberg

Father Stu

Mark Wahlberg ditched the gym for eating 7,000 calories a day, including at least a dozen eggs, steak, a half roast chicken and a "nightcap" consisting of oatmeal, apple sauce, jam, almond butter and molasses before bed, to play a boxer turned priest in his upcoming film, Father Stu.

His aim was to gain 30lbs for the role, but within weeks of sharing his weight gain on Instagram, Wahlberg had already dropped off the excess weight and was back to working out.

Rob McElhenney

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Rob McElhenney in It's Always Sunny
Rob McElhenney plays Mac in "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia". FX

As creator and star of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, McElhenney gained 60lbs to play "Fat Mac" simply because he thought it would be funny.

While he started eating plenty of chicken and rice to gain the weight, he soon realised it was a lot easier to just eat two Big Macs, and then added Krispy Kreme donuts, a lot of wine and melted ice-cream to his diet to speed up the process.

He told Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast: "I read that cottage cheese metabolizes really slowly in your stomach. If you eat cottage cheese, the last thing you want to do is eat it right before you go to bed because it metabolizes so slowly.

"So, I was like, 'That's what I have to do.' So, I started eating cottage cheese in the middle of the night. I would wake up at 2 a.m. and I would eat cottage cheese. And then one week later after that, I came in on a Monday, and for whatever reason, it was like I popped. . . . I went from about 160 to 220."

Mac's weight gain was a brief storyline on It's Always Sunny, before Rob then decided to get extremely shredded for the role instead.

Christian Bale

American Hustle

15 American Hustle
Christian Bale in "American Huslte" (Columbia Pictures), which also starred Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper. Columbia Pictures

Christian Bale is probably the best known actor in Hollywood when it comes to extreme weight loss and gain for roles, and he gained 43lbs to play a con-man in American Hustle.

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. I was about 185 and went up to 228."

However, while Bale has dropped drastic amounts of weight for other roles, he found it difficult to drop the weight this time around, as he had a deadline to play Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings.

He told USA Today: "I think I'm certainly getting older. I thought I was going to lose the weight I gained for American Hustle. I said, two months, flat, that'll do it. I was 185 and I went up to 228 for it. And I'm still working that off! It's almost six months later. Now I know that when I was in my early 20s, it would have been two months, and that's it."

And in... Vice

That didn't stop Bale from trying the weight gain and drop again though, when he played Dick Cheney in 2018's Vice.

He gained 40lbs and transformed into the former Vice President via prosthetics and make-up, but the role may have turned Bale off drastic transformations in future.

The actor told Press Association: "Everything hurts now, I've got to really start thinking about if I can manage this again and the answer is probably no."

Renee Zellweger

Bridget Jones' Diary

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones Diary
Renee Zellweger stars as Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones' Diary. Miramax

Bridget Jones is pretty much a straight-sized woman, rather than the overweight singleton we are made to believe in this classic rom-com, but Renee Zellweger still had to gain quite a bit of weight to play her.

The actress gained around 30lbs to play Bridget in the first film and its sequel The Edge of Reason, but only put on a few pounds for the third installment, Bridget Jones' Baby.

Zellweger told Vogue: "I put on a few pounds. I also put on some breasts and a baby bump.

"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."

Matt Damon

The Informant!

"The Informant!" star Matt Damon and
Actor Matt Damon and his wife, Luciana Damon, attend the "The Informant" benefit screening at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City, on September 15, 2009. Charles Eshelman/Getty Images

Matt Damon put on 30lbs to play an executive who exposed a price fixing-scandal while covering up his own extortion, and didn't find it that taxing at all.

Speaking at the movie's launch at Venice Film Festival, he said: "It was very, very easy to gain the weight. It was very, very fun, probably the funnest time I had working, because I didn't have to go to the gym after work and I just ate everything I could see.

"I definitely got doughy. I started eating like crazy and drinking dark beer. Between meals on set, I'd eat a No. 1 Value Meal at McDonald's and then Doritos on top of it. It was absolute heaven."

Jared Leto

Chapter 27

Jared Leto during "Chapter 27" filming.
Jared Leto on Location in New York City for "Chapter 27" on February 1, 2006. RJ Capak/WireImage/Getty Images

To play Mark David Chapman, the man who assassinated John Lennon, Jared Leto packed on 67lbs through a rather disgusting diet that involved drinking microwaved ice-cream mixed with olive oil and soy sauce to help speed up the weight gain.

It worked, but it also left Leto with gout, high cholesterol and even trouble walking.

He told Digital Spy: "I had a definite problem with my feet. Towards the end of the shoot, one of the glaring issues was the pain I had with my feet. I couldn't walk for long distances; I had a wheelchair because it was so painful. My body was in shock from the amount of weight I gained.

"It took about a year to get back to a place that felt semi-normal. I don't know if I'll ever be back to the place I was physically."

Ryan Gosling

The Lovely Bones

Ryan Gosling
Actor Ryan Gosling attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Another fan of drinking melted ice-cream was Ryan Gosling, who used the tactic to gain 60lbs to play a grieving father in The Lovely Bones.

However, the weight gain was for nothing, as Gosling was replaced by Mark Wahlberg by director Peter Jackson.

Gosling told The Hollywood Reporter: "We had a different idea of how the character should look. I really believed he should be 210 pounds.

"We didn't talk very much during the pre-production process, which was the problem. It was a huge movie, and there's so many things to deal with, and he couldn't deal with the actors individually. I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong. Then I was fat and unemployed."

And in... Blue Valentine

Gosling put on less weight for Blue Valentine, but managed to keep his role.

Both he and Michelle Williams put on weight to make the story of the dissolution of a couple's marriage more realistic, and went head to head to see how much they could put on.

Director Derek Cianfrance said Williams was the winner, though: "She ended up winning. She gained about 15, 16 pounds. He gained 14."

Michelle Williams

Also in.. Blue Valentine

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams at Cannes
Actors Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams attend the "Blue Valentine" Photocall at the Palais des Festivals during the 63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2010 in Cannes, France. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

It was Williams' idea to put on weight to play her character, after Cianfrance initially wanted her to lose weight as her life and marriage unravelled.

The actress believed it would be more realistic to gain weight, with Cianfrance telling the HuffPost: "Michelle was eating a pint of ice cream for breakfast and dinner and avocado sandwiches all day. She wanted to do it. She talked about her character having a certain self-hatred."

Charlize Theron


Charlize Theron gained 50lbs to play an overwhelmed and pregnant mother-of-two in 2018's Tully, and admits that she became depressed after bingeing on processed food for the role.

She told Entertainment Tonight: "The first three weeks are always fun because you're just like a kid in a candy store. So it was fun to go and have breakfast at In-N-Out and have two milkshakes. And then after three weeks, it's not fun anymore.

"Like, all of a sudden you're just done eating that amount and then it becomes a job. I remember having to set my alarm in the middle of the night in order to just maintain [the weight]. I would literally wake up at two in the morning and I'd have a cup of cold macaroni and cheese just next to me. I would wake up and I would just eat it... I would just, like, shove it in my throat. It's hard to maintain that weight."

It took the actress a year and a half to lose the 50lbs.

And in... Monster

Charlize Theron in Monster
Charlize Theron plays Aileen Wournos in "Monster". Newmarket Films

This wasn't the first time Charlize transformed for a role though, having won an Oscar for her performance as killer Aileen Wournos in Monster.

She gained 30lbs to play Wournos and transformed her appearance by shaving her eyebrows and wearing prosthetic teeth.

After struggling to lose weight after Tully, Theron acknowledged that it was easier to do so after Monster, saying: "You know your body at 27 is a little different than your body at 43, and my doctor made sure to make me very aware of that. Like, you are 42, calm down, you're not dying, all good."

Matthew McConaughey


Matthew McConaughey at the "Gold" premiere.
Matthew McConaughey attends the world premiere of "Gold" hosted by TWC-Dimension at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 theater in New York City on January 17, 2017. Chance Yeh/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Matthew McConaughey put on 49lbs to play prospector Kenny Wells in Gold, and joked that his weight was the result of "cheeseburgers and beer for eight months, whenever I wanted them".

The actor told Ellen DeGeneres that his family nicknamed him Captain Fun during that time, because "any night was pizza night", but admitted it took him six months to lose the weight he put on.

Robert De Niro

Raging Bull

Robert De Niro filming Raging Bull
Robert de Niro with director Martin Scorsese on the set of his movie Raging Bull, based on the book by Jake LeMotta. Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Robert De Niro won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, but he also calls the film the toughest he's ever had to prepare for due to the weight he gained for just one scene.

To portray LaMotta in his later years in a nightclub scene, De Niro gained 60lbs by eating his way around France's best restaurants during a four-month break in filming.

The transformation concerned director Martin Scorsese, who said De Niro's breathing sounded like his after an asthma attack.

Hilary Swank

Million Dollar Baby

Hilary Swank gained 19lbs of pure muscle to play a boxer in her Oscar-winning turn in Million Dollar Baby.

As well as working out for five hours a day to achieve the physique needed, Swank told The Hollywood Reporter: "I had to eat 210 grams of protein a day. I had to eat 60 egg whites in a day, and I couldn't. So every morning I would drink them.

"The thing was, I needed nine hours of sleep a night because your muscles have to be able to rest in order to build or you actually reverse yourself. So I slept nine hours a night but I had to wake up in the night and drink protein shakes because I couldn't go that long without eating."

Mark Ruffalo

I Know This Much Is True

Mark Ruffalo in I Know This Much
Mark Ruffalo plays twin brothers in HBO's I Know This Much Is True. HBO

Mark Ruffalo was lauded in the past awards season for his dual role in the mini-series I Know This Much Is True, playing identical twin brothers, one of whom is schizophrenic.

The actor didn't want to wear prosthetics, so took six weeks in between scenes to gain 30lbs to play Thomas.

During the show's press tour, he explained: "We didn't want it to be like I run and throw a wig on and do the same scene in the same day, so we took six weeks off to really separate these two guys. And Thomas is on medication, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics. A lot of people put on weight.

"Putting on the weight for Thomas was really challenging. I didn't expect it to be. I thought I was going to have a fun time doing that, but when you're force-feeding yourself, some of the romance of food sort of leave."

Before putting on the weight, Ruffalo had to lose 20lbs to play Dominick, and had to cut his diet to 1,000 calories a day.

Tom Hardy

The Dark Knight Rises

Tom Hardy majorly bulked up to play the menacing villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, packing on 30lbs of muscle and mass.

While he was used to body transformations thanks to his previous roles in Bronson and Warrior, Hardy later told The Daily Beast that his role as Bane has stuck with his body.

He said: "I think you pay the price with any drastic physical changes. It was alright when I was younger... but I think as you get into your 40s you have to be more mindful of the rapid training, packing on a lot of weight and getting physical, and then not having enough time to keep training because you're busy filming, so your body is swimming in two different directions at the same time...

"I haven't damaged my body, but I'm certainly a bit achier than I used to be! I certainly have joints that click that probably shouldn't click, you know what I mean? And carrying my children is a little bit harder than it used to be—but don't tell them!"

Ewan McGregor


Ewan McGregor played the dual roles of brothers Ray and Emmit in the third series of Fargo, and a scene where Ray gets out of a bathtub meant that he had to gain weight in real life to play the bigger brother.

According to Vulture, Ewan went about the weight gain in perhaps not the healthiest way, with the actor saying: "I ordered a massive dessert and started putting on weight from that second onward. From October until January, when we started filming, I just started eating whatever I wanted. I made sure that I had carbs with everything and French fries with everything. I didn't have any technique other than eating a lot. I think if you spoke to a dietician, I probably did it all wrong.

"It's quite nice when you're ordering — you can order whatever you like. But the truth is I would go to bed every night not feeling very great. I'm a small guy. I'm not really used to carrying weight. It doesn't make you feel great. I like to feel fit and healthy. But it was effective. It worked."

To play the leaner Emmit, Ewan managed to slim down using tried and tested Spanx.

George Clooney


George Clooney attends the premiere of "Syriana."
George Clooney attends the premiere of "Syriana" at the Loews Lincoln Center theatre in New York City on November 20, 2005. Clooney later won Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role at the Academy Awards for his portrayal. Andrew H. Walke/Getty Images

George Clooney had just one month to gain 30lbs for his role as a CIA agent in Syriana, and was totally miserable doing it.

He said of the rapid challenge: "People always think, 'Oh, that'll be fun,' but it's like going to a pie-eating contest every day.

"I was miserable, because there I was in Italy, and I wasn't looking forward to eating. Who doesn't look forward to eating in Italy?"

Bradley Cooper

American Sniper

Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
Bradley Cooper stars in American Sniper. Warner Bros

Bradley Cooper earned an Oscar nomination for his role of Chris Kyle in American Sniper, and to make it as realistic as possible, he gained 40lbs to match Kyle's 230lb physique.

The actor told Men's Health: "I had to get to the point where I believed I was him. At 185 pounds, it would've been a joke. His size was such a part of who he was ... Chris wasn't ripped. He wasn't sinewy. He was just a bear."

Cooper's trainer essentially had to force-feed him, sticking to a diet of over 5,000 calories a day, training twice a day and eating protein bars and drinking workout drinks.

Ryan Reynolds

Blade: Trinity

For the 2004 film Blade: Trinity, Ryan Reynolds had to transform his body via three months of six-day-a week workouts and a 3,200-calorie-per-day diet.

All of that work meant that Reynolds gained 25lbs of muscle, and since then, he has been known for his jacked physique, which he maintained for roles like The Green Lantern and Deadpool.

Emma Stone

Battle of the Sexes

Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes
Emma Stone plays Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes. Fox Searchlight

After being cast as tennis legend Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes, Emma Stone needed to look like a strong athlete, so bulked up for the role.

She enlisted the help of trainer Jason Walsh, who subscribed Stone to workouts of heavy weight-lifting and downing shakes made up of hundreds of calories daily.

In the end, Stone gained 15lbs, and she was delighted with the results.

Walsh told People: "She was ecstatic when she got on (the scale). Most girls who get on the scale and gain weight freak out, (but) she had the biggest smile in the world when the weight started to increase."

Russell Crowe

Body of Lies

For his role as a CIA agent in 2008's Body of Lies, Russell Crowe put on 63lbs, and it involved eating a whole lot of cheeseburgers and cupcakes.

He told Access Hollywood: ""It just felt right for the character and it's what Ridley [Scott] wanted as well. He wanted the image of Ed to feel like a retired football player whose knees didn't allow him to train anymore or something like that. He wanted him to have, even though he did feel that there should be some grace about him, he just wanted him to be heavy. And he wanted to show that this is a guy that actually spends most of his time sitting down.

"If you want to put on weight, you just elect to live a sedentary lifestyle. Just as soon as you stop actually being active and decide to eat whatever you want, then these two things will combine very quickly."

Vanessa Hudgens

Gimme Shelter

Vanessa Hudgens attends the "Gimme Shelter" premiere.
Vanessa Hudgens (L) and Rosario Dawson attend the "Gimme Shelter" Los Angeles Premiere at the Egyptian Theatre on January 14, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Rodrigo Vaz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Vanessa Hudgens played a homeless, pregnant teenager in Gimme Shelter, so needed to gain up to 15lbs for the role.

The star said it was pretty easy to do, considering she was prepping for the movie while at Cannes.

She told HuffPost: "It's not hard to put on weight in France when you're eating all the good French food. It was the easiest and most amazing thing ever."

However, Vanessa admitted that she wasn't comfortable with the extra weight after filming wrapped, and didn't recognise herself.

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