ByDavid Rodemerk, writer at
Watched HBO and Cinemax as a little kid before "binge-watching" was even a thing! Mom called me a TV Guide with diapers. Twitter @filmigos
David Rodemerk

Actors will go at great lengths to develop their characters. Some, like Daniel Day Lewis, go deep into their roles. Others go so far as to alter their own weight. What happens when actors think their characters need to some extra fat? Rapid weight gain and loss has to take a toll on how they live.

Charlize Theron has gone through the rigor of upping the pounds to help create a character. Gain weight for her role as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster became part of the process that garnered her an Academy Award for Best Actress. But that was back in 2002 when she was younger, and getting rid of the weight was much easier.

For her upcoming movie, Tully, the Atomic Blonde actress once again had to add some weight. This time around, it caused her much more stress as she explained in an interview in Variety:

"It was brutal in every sense... This time around, I really felt it in my health. The sugar put me in a massive depression. I was sick. I couldn't lose the weight. I called my doctor and I said, 'I think I'm dying!"

The older we get, the harder it is to lose weight. Theron's response reveals not only the difficulty in shedding the pounds, but how it can affect us. If adding and losing the weight had such an impact on her, how did the process affect other actors?

Here's a few actors that talk about what is what like to live with all that extra flab:

Ewan McGregor In 'Fargo'

If you've watched the newest season of Fargo, then you've seen stretch his acting chops by playing both of the feuding Stussy brothers. Emmit, the parking lot king of Minnesota, is the slender and happily married brother. Opposite Emmit is Ray, lumbering around town with a balding pate and pot belly.

When Ray emerged naked from that bathtub scene in Fargo, it was all McGregor. Instead of donning a fat suit or relying on CGI, McGregor went from hunk to chub the old fashioned way. In a press call with Vanity Fair, McGregor explained his strategy for putting on the pounds:

"I ordered a massive dessert and started putting on weight from that second onward. 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."

Jennifer Aniston In 'Cake'

Jennifer Aniston in 'Cake' [Credit: Echo Films]
Jennifer Aniston in 'Cake' [Credit: Echo Films]

Jennifer Aniston immediately become everyone's favorite cafe waitress when she played Rachel Green on the hit 90's sitcom Friends. As she transitioned to the big screen, she took roles that were dramatically different from her flirty character on Friends.

For one film, Cake, she skipped the gym for two months and started packing on the pounds. Aniston played Claire Simmons, who suffered from chronic pain after a debilitating car accident. It wouldn't have made sense for Aniston to retain her figure while playing a character that had limited mobility.

In a interview during the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Aniston admitted that changing her exercise routine had its consequences:

"At first I was thrilled, because I said this will be so great I don’t have to work out... After a few weeks it really does start to affect your sleep, your stamina throughout the day, your mood."

Adding weight doesn't just affect how you look, it also has other effects. You feel tired, your sleep pattern changes, and it can be mentally draining.

Christian Bale In 'American Hustle'

is no stranger to altering his body for a role. He's put himself through a roller coaster of weight fluctuation. Bale lost about 60 pounds to show bones for his character in The Machinist, then gained over 100 pounds several months later to portray Gotham's crime fighter in Batman Begins. He immediately had to shed all that weight once again to play a POW in Werner Herzog's movie Rescue Dawn, though Herzog created a shooting schedule that allowed Bale to lose the weight over the course of filming.

Then Bale added weight once again to play Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle. During an interview with George Pennacchio of KABC Television, Bale discussed what it was like to carry all that weight:

"It's easy to start with ... you're just sitting on your butt and you're eating lots of doughnuts and eating bread and everything like that. But you do it for two months and your body starts to rebel against you, it's just saying, 'No, please,' and your back is aching and there's also some problems with that. And then you've got to lose the weight at the end of it, you know? I wish it was simple."

It's not simple. It takes a lot of effort to remove all that excess fat. Not to mention the toll it takes on the body to go from a skeleton-like character in one movie to a buff comic book crime fighter in another.

These actors do an amazing job bringing their characters to life on screen. But developing these roles by altering their bodies comes at a cost: soreness, depression, stamina and mood. We just hope all these drastic changes don't affect their life and work in the future.

Do you think it's necessary for actors to change their weight for specific roles?

[Sources: Variety, Vanity Fair, People, ABC7]


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