ByDania Lerman, writer at
Dania Lerman

Kubrick's no longer around, but grueling times on set still are. To anyone who says "acting is easy", here are five tales of extreme, exhausting, and at times life-threatening circumstances actors have been forced to endure:

1) Christian Bale, The Machinist (2004)

Christian Bale starved himself for over 4 months before playing the pathologically guilt-ridden insomniac. His diet consisted of one cup of black coffee, and an apple OR can of tuna (55-360 calories). He lost 63 pounds.

"I had a photograph of Hank Williams... getting released from jail just a few months before he died. He's shirtless and he looks a wreck, absolutely emaciated. So I stuck that on the front of the script to be kind of my image of what Trevor should be, and then just kept going and going and trying to reach that." (BBC)

But that's not all - after filming, he quickly re-gained the mass - plus an additional 60 pounds (lots of protein and weightlifting) - for Batman Begins:

"...there was still a real fitness level that I had to achieve to be able to do what was demanded of me. So it was like a massive shock to my body because of what I was trying to get it to do. Also, my metabolism had to get back up to speed, because my heart had got used to a whole different way of living for some time." (BBC)

2) Uma Thurman, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

3 months after childbirth, Uma Thurman was forced to undergo intensive martial-arts training to pull off Black Mamba's moves. She, apparently, was not amused:

"'Three styles of kung fu, two styles of sword fighting' — Thurman says this through pursed lips, as if she's going to spit--'knife throwing, knife fighting, hand-to-hand combat, Japanese speaking. It was literally absurd.'" (TIME)

Uma had a hard time on set:

"'My body type is the opposite of all the people who created these arts... They have a low center of gravity; they're compact. Then there's me. I'm like 5 ft. 11 in., all arms and legs, with a 2-ft. neck.' The first time Thurman swung the 10-lb. samurai sword... she hit herself in the head and nearly burst into tears." (TIME)

But Tarantino told her to suck it up:

"Before this movie, Uma's way of training was to smoke half a pack of cigarettes as opposed to a pack, all right? She started the training 30 lbs. overweight from the baby, and she was really intimidated, but no way were we going to use quick cuts or CGI [computer graphics imaging]. Not in this movie." (TIME)

Uma knows the tough-love paid off:

"Quentin's actually kind of great to argue with... He's a tough character, but he's not stupid, and he grants it when you score a point." (TIME)

3) Logan Lerman, Fury (2014)

Action-packed director David Ayer is known for taking method acting to the next level... particularly when it comes to the physical. Logan Lerman recently opened up about the intensity of the army training Ayer required of Fury's cast:

"It wasn’t an easy film to make. War is hell, and we definitely went to hell to make the movie... They’d break us down the same way that the army would a soldier.” (WWD)

Apparently, this involved weeks of waking up at 5 AM for a full day of combat training. Ayer often had the cast fight each other - for real, of course - and beat each other up.

Ultimately, Logan found the experience equally valuable as it was tough... aka, very:

“I’ve kind of [learned] to take time off instead of giving myself to projects I’m not 100 percent passionate about... Fury was one of the most emotionally and physically exhausting films I’ve ever been a part of — also one of the most creatively satisfying. So I’m just waiting for something that I’m excited about.”

4) Léa Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

The film was a huge success, but it didn't take long for controversies to arise following its release. Lead Léa Seydoux found the experience incredibly demanding, and spoke out about her difficulties with Director Abdellatif Kechiche. First off was the 10 minute sex scene... which took 10 days:

"He warned us that we had to trust him—blind trust—and give a lot of ourselves... But once we were on the shoot, I realized that he really wanted us to give him everything. Most people don’t even dare to ask the things that he did, and they’re more respectful—you get reassured during sex scenes, and they’re choreographed, which desexualizes the act... We spent 10 days on just that one scene." (The Daily Beast)

The shoot took an incredibly long time:

"What was terrible on this film was that we couldn’t see the ending. It was supposed to only be two months, then three, then four, then it became five-and-a-half. By the end, we were just so tired." (The Daily Beast)

Kechiche was incredibly ruthless when it came to giving the actresses a break... as in, he didn't:

"In the first scene where we cross paths and it’s love at first sight, it’s only about thirty seconds long, but we spent the whole day shooting it—over 100 takes. By the end of it, I remember I was dizzy and couldn’t even sit." (The Daily Beast)

...not even for on-set injuries:

"...during the shooting, I had to push her out of a glass door and scream, 'Now go away!' and [Adèle] slapped the door and cut herself and was bleeding everywhere and crying with her nose running, and then after, [Kechiche] said, 'No, we’re not finished. We’re doing it again.'"

Ultimately, the movie took first prize at the Cannes, and the actresses learned a lot:

"[Kechiche] is a genius, but he’s tortured. We wanted to give everything we have, but sometimes there was a kind of manipulation, which was hard to handle. But it was a good learning experience for me, as an actor."

Even so, both actresses said they would never work with him again.

5) Everyone involved in the Filming Of Green Inferno (2013)

Okay so it's not one person in particular... but the story's way too wild to pass up. Roth was all about authenticity, and spent a month filming in a remote Amazonian village, where he cast local natives as cannibals:

"... I wanted to film somewhere that was really, really, really in the Amazon. Really, authentically off the grid.... we found this village where there was no electricity, no running water, grass huts. Ten people in a shack. And it looked incredible; it looked like a village from another time... " (IGN)

Beyond roughing it out in the wild, the team faced constant, life-threatening dangers:

“It was a really amazing experience to live there for a month... We could have died any number of times – there were floods, and there were rock-slides, there were tarantulas, snakes, animals walking through shots. It was crazy. Wild horses that if you got near them would kick you and bite you. And the bugs attacking you. And it was 110 degrees – it was brutal." (IGN)

The bugs were really bad:

“Lorenza – our actress from Aftershock – she’s the lead, and she got devoured by bugs. You’d wake up and mosquitos and ants had bitten your face. You’d have to sleep completely covered from head-to-toe or you’d get devoured." (IGN)

But... as tends to be the case... it was worth it:

"We strapped cameras to remote control helicopters and ran them over the Amazon. The footage looks jaw-dropping. There have never been cameras where we were. So we start in New York City and go all the way to the ends of society." (IGN)

So... still think acting's easy?


Who do you think had it the worst?


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