25 Actors Who Lost a Huge Amount of Weight for Movie Roles

Actors often drastically change their appearance for movie roles, often transforming into a completely different person for each film they appear in.

One of the most drastic––and all-consuming––changes to an actors' appearance can be when they lose weight.

Here are 25 actors that lost a drastic amount of weight for movie roles...

1. Tom Hanks, Philadelphia, 1993

Tom Hanks Philadelphia
Tom Hanks starred alongside Denzel Washington in the 1993 film Philadelphia Columbia TriStar / Handout/Getty Images

Tom Hanks, famed for a multitude of roles including in The Terminal and News of the World, lost an astonishing 26 pounds for his Oscar-winning performance as HIV/AIDs patient Andrew Beckett in the film Philadelphia.

The film sees Hanks play a lawyer who is fired by his law firm for his HIV status. The film follows his battle against the firm in a wrongful dismissal suit.

2. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables, 2012

Actor Anne Hathaway lost 25 pounds for her role as Fantine in the 2012 remake of the Broadway musical.

Hathaway lost 15 pounds before filming and 10 during, saying in an interview that the idea was to look 'near death' for the role.

Hathaway won the Best Supporting Actor award at the Oscars for her performance in the role, so her commitment appears to be worth it.

3. Jake Gyllenhaal, The Nightcrawler, 2014

Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Jake Gyllenhaal played a freelance photographer in the film Nightcrawler Noam Galai / Contributor/Getty Images

In this film, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a freelance photographer who chases accidents and murders throughout the night, to film and sell the footage on to network television.

Gyllenhaal's character frequently pushes moral boundaries and is more than a little creepy––a deranged, career-hungry freelance journalist, that Gyllenhaal lost 30 pounds to portray correctly.

4. Christian Bale, The Machinist, 2004

The Machinist sees Christian Bale play Trever Reznik, a skeletal insomniac who obsessively keeps track of his rapidly diminishing weight.

The film follows his characters' infatuations and obsessions, as he convinces himself his co-workers at the factory are out to get him.

Bale lost a terrifying amount of weight for the role, which ended up being a total of 63 pounds.

5. Michael Fassbender, Hunger, 2008

Hunger cast at BAFTA awards
The cast of 'Hunger' Brian Mulligan, Michael Fassbender and Liam McMahon arrive at the Irish Film & TV Awards Phillip Massey / Contributor/Getty Images

Fassbender lost a total of 40 pounds to play the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands in the 2008 film Hunger.

The film takes place in Northern Ireland in Maze Prison, in 1981 and follows his character as he pushes his mind and body to the edge in protest.

6. Zoe Kravitz, The Road Within, 2014

In The Road Within, Kravitz plays Marie, who falls in love with the main character Vincent in an institution. The film sees the pair, along with another character, Alex, travel to the ocean to deliver Vincent's mother's ashes.

Kravitz lost 20 pounds to play the part of Marie, who was living with an eating disorder.

7. Chris Hemsworth, In the Heart of the Sea, 2014

Chris Hemsworth drastically changed his appearance from the chiseled God Thor to play a shipwreck survivor in this period drama.

The film follows the remaining crew after their vessel was attacked by a giant whale –– and follows their struggle to survive.

Hemsworth lost 33 pounds to play the part, which apparently made him 'moody' according to an interview on Good Morning America.

8. Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club, 2013

Matthew McConauhey with Oscar award
Actor Matthew McConaughey won Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for 'Dallas Buyers Club' Getty Images/Jeffrey Mayer / Contributor

Actor McConaughey, best known for his roles in films like The Wedding Planner and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, lost 47 pounds to play his role in Dallas Buyers Club.

McConaughey plays Ron Woodruff, a Texan who contracts AIDs in the 1980s. McConaughey said in an interview that he ate everything he usually did before taking on the role––just in smaller portions.

9. Liam Neeson, Silence, 2016

In the historical drama Silence, Liam Neeson plays a Jesuit Missionary called Ferriera. In the film, two young missionaries go on a search for their mentor (Neeson), who has mysteriously dropped out of contact.

The film was directed by Scorsese, who requires "100 percent" from his actors during filming, according to Neeson. The Northern Irish actor lost a total of 20 pounds for the role.

10. Joaquin Phoenix, The Joker, 2019

In this spin-off of the Batman films, Joaquin Phoenix plays the troubled comedian Arthur Fleck, who later becomes Batman villain, The Joker.

Phoenix lost 52 pounds to play the role. In an interview, Phoenix said losing that much weight made him "go mad," even though the extremely restrictive diet was supervised by a doctor.

11. Mila Kunis, The Black Swan, 2010

Mila Kunis at Black Swan Premiere
Mila Kunis at the New York premiere of Black Swan Getty/Michael Loccisano / Staff

For the psychological ballet thriller The Black Swan, Kunis lost 20 pounds in five short months.

This was in order to look like a ballerina, who are typically are on the smaller side. Kunis said that to get down to the required weight, she ate a restricted diet and Wsmoked a tonne of cigarettes," admitting that she didn't do it in the healthiest way possible.

12. Tom Hanks, Cast Away, 2000

In his second appearance on this list, Tom Hanks lost a shocking amount of weight for this role, totalling 53 pounds.

Hanks plays FedEx operations executive Chuck Noland, who washes up on a desert island after his planes crashes at sea. The film follows his struggle to survive on the island, completely alone.

13. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club, 2013

Oscar awards 2014
Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto pose in the press room at the Oscars awards ceremony Jason LaVeris / Contributor/Getty

Jared Leto, along with Matthew McConauhey, also lost a lot of weight for his role in the film Dallas Buyers Club.

Leto plays a transsexual living with HIV in the 1980s, and lost nearly 40 pounds to play the role. Leto told Vulture in 2012 that it was not about losing the most weight, but that it was "more to represent the character".

14. Natalie Portman, The Black Swan, 2010

The Black Swan sees Portman play a ballerina alongside Kunis. Also like Kunis, Portman lost 20 pounds for the role.

However, the weight loss wasn't without its problems. Portman told Entertainment Weekly that some nights, she "literally thought [she] was going to die" from her diet of carrots and almonds.

15. Ben Kingsley, Gandhi, 1982

British actor Ben Kingsley played Gandhi in the eponymous film in 1982, but the role of a lifetime wasn't without sacrifices.

He lost a total of 20 pounds for the role, switching his diet to a vegetarian one, to mirror Gandhi's own. To get into the role, Kingsley also studied yoga and took up meditation.

16. Adam Driver, Silence, 2016

Driver played a Jesuit priest in this film, alongside Neeson, who came in at number 9 on this list.

Driver lost 51 pounds to play the role, which he says he lost before and during the film, to reflect the effects of his character's ongoing journey around the world.

17. Lily Collins, To the Bone, 2017

Sundance 2017 'To the Bone"
Actors Keanu Reeves, Carrie Preston, Lily Collins and writer/director Marti Noxon of "To The Bone" attend the Sundance Festival in 2017 Rich Polk / Stringer/Getty

Lily Collins lost a drastic amount of weight for To the Bone, in which she plays a woman who suffers with anorexia.

During the Netflix drama, Collins' character meets a doctor who challenges her views on the world, and helps her face her condition.

Collins, who has suffered from an eating disorder in the past, said losing the weight was extremely difficult for her, but that she felt it was necessary for the part.

18. Jonah Hill, Moneyball, 2011

Jonah Hill lost nearly 40 pounds for the film Moneyball in 2011. Jonah plays Peter Brand, a Yale Economics graduate who helps baseball player Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) increase the chances of his team winning.

Hill says his weight loss was mainly achieved by cutting back on beer, and simply eating less.

19. Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy, 2014

Chris Pratt Photocall london 2014
Chris Pratt attends the "Guardians of the Galacy" photocall in London, 2014 Stuart Wilson / Contributor/Getty

Actor Chris Pratt lost 60 pounds to play the role of Peter Quill in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.

Surprisingly, though, Pratt didn't eat less to lose the weight––he actually ate more. He consumed 4,000 calories per day to gain the muscle mass needed to play the part in this action film.

20. 50 Cent, Things Fall Apart, 2011

Rapper and musician 50 Cent turned his hand to acting for his role in the 2010 film Things Fall Apart in 2011.

The film saw him play a promising football player with cancer. 50 Cent was unrecognisable in the role, and dropped 50 pounds to play the part.

21. Jennifer Lawrence, Red Sparrow, 2018

Red Sparrow Premiere
Jennifer Lawrence at the Red Sparrow premiere Taylor Hill / Contributor/Getty Images

Jennifer Lawrence took on the role of a ballerina-turned-spy for the 2018 film Red Sparrow.

Lawrence had to lose a lot of weight to look like an authentic Russian ballerina for the film, which she said was "really brutal," given that she doesn't usually restrict her diet.

22. Matt Damon, Courage Under Fire, 1996

Matt Damon lost a total of 60 pounds to play his role in the 1996 film Courage Under Fire.

In the film, Damon plays a supporting role alongside Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan.

Damon lost the weight by, reportedly, making up his own diet and running 13 miles every day.

23. Lilly James, Cinderella, 2015

Lilly James at Cinderella Premiere
Lilly James at the Cinderella premiere in Tokyo Jun Sato / Contributor/Getty Images

In the live-action remake of Disney Classic Cinderella, Lily James plays the title character.

The role involved James wearing an extremely tight, small corset throughout. While James didn't lose weight before the role, the restrictive corset restricted her digestion––meaning that she lost weight in order to stay in the corset for filming.

24. Michelle Pfieffer, Scarface, 1983

Michelle Pfieffer played Elvira, a woman addicted to cocaine in the 1983 crime movie.

In order to gain the emaciated look of a long-term user, Pfieffer said she pretty much existed on a diet of 'tomato soup and Marlboros'.

Pfieffer has since spoken out about how stressful the experience was, given that the shoot for the movie lasted for six weeks longer than it was supposed to.

25. Matthew Fox, Alex Cross, 2012

Matthew Fox, known for his performance on long-running TV series Lost, lost 40 pounds for his part in the 2012 crime thriller Alex Cross.

Fox plays a cage-fighting assassin in the film, and went through a tough five month training regime for the part.

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts