ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

It's no secret that Hollywood is an appearance-driven industry (it's the movies, after all). Still, even with more and more types of people being represented on the big and small screens, there's still the looming threat of an ideal body that filmmakers are all to happy to demand of their stars.

Some of the followed the advice, some of them didn't, but all of these celebrities were encouraged to shed pounds to be more successful.

1. Emily Blunt for The Devil Wears Prada

She was arguably the best part of the movie, but it sounds like playing the fictional Emily, whose diet plan involved eating a cube of cheese when she felt like she was about to faint, was closer to real life than anticipated. Because her character "literally did not eat," she was encouraged by the film's execs to lose weight.

2. Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Mark Hamill has been enjoying a lucrative career in voice acting for decades now, with the added bonus of jobs that don't kick you out for not looking absolutely perfect. However, for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he ended up losing 50 lbs. to reprise the iconic role as Luke Skywalker as he was told to go on an intense diet before coming back to the big screen.

"I'm on the 'if it tastes good, don't eat it' diet."

3. Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

For many of the "extreme transformation" roles, the actors take it upon themselves to shed unreal amounts of weight, but it's the pressures to achieve realism that really push them to the brink. That's definitely true for Jared Leto, who dropped down to an astonishing 114 lbs. for the role of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club.

"I stopped eating. It wasn’t an easy thing to do. It was 30 or 40 pounds. After a while I stopped counting."

Because the movie was expected to be a big success (especially for performances), there was added pressure to fully capture the character, and it eventually paid off in the form of an Oscar.

4. Patricia Arquette for Medium

Patricia Arquette has long lambasted Hollywood's brutal standards on looks, and when she got the lead role in the hit TV show Medium, the reality was no different. They wanted her to lose baby weight, and the actress outright refused due to the character she was playing.

“The producer said, ‘Honey, you’ve got to lose some weight.’ I felt like saying, ‘I don’t want to do this job then,’ because, to be honest with you, I’m trying to make little changes in the world. If it made any sense for this part – if this part was a supermodel or anorexic – then okay. But DuBois is a mother of three in a long-term marriage. It doesn’t make sense.”

5. Cillian Murphy for In the Heart of the Sea

His experience with weight loss for In the Heart of the Sea drove Cillian Murphy to never want to attempt it again. The role required him to shed 15 lbs. due to the character's circumstance of being lost at sea, and he very much felt the demand from those behind the movie.

“Going to bed hungry is not something I want to do again. And there were actors of different sizes so it was kind of, let’s just say, there was more demand on others. But it was very hard.”

6. Sienna Miller for Factory Girl

The fact that Sienna Miller of all people was ever asked to lose weight is pretty shocking, but when you're bringing to life someone as famously waifish as Edie Sedgwick, there's going to be a struggle. As Sienna herself said:

“Edie was skinnier than I was so (director George Hickenlooper) wanted me to (lose weight). But I can’t work that hard and not eat. He’d come and try to snatch bagels out of my hands!”

She ended up not losing as much weight as Hickenlooper wanted, but I honestly can't blame her. I could not live a happy life without the glory of bagels.

7. Carrie Fisher for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Carrie Fisher had already dealt with the Hollywood pressure to fit a perfect size while filming the original Star Wars trilogy, but the actress claims that not much has changed since then. Before filming began on The Force Awakens, Fisher was encouraged to drop weight all over again, and she pins the blame firmly on the industry's obsession with one appearance.

They don’t want to hire all of me – only about three-quarters! Nothing changes, it’s an appearance-driven thing. I’m in a business where the only thing that matters is weight and appearance. That is so messed up. They might as well say get younger, because that’s how easy it is.

8. Christian Bale for The Machinist

One of the most extreme examples of a Hollywood transformation, Christian Bale's weight loss in The Machinist was partially due to the original script. The role was written for a much shorter actor, so the insanely low goal weights that are written on bathroom wall in this particular scene should not have been quite as dramatic.

Christian Bale took this as a challenge, and even though he was much taller than the screenwriter (who used his own weight and height as a measurement), he ended up dropping a daunting 60 lbs. for the role.

9. Scarlett Johansson for The Avengers

Scarlett Johnasson has always had an incredible figure, but in Hollywood, that fact doesn't mean you're immune from outside pressure. When she nabbed the role as Black Widow in The Avengers, Johnasson allegedly called up fellow Marvel gal Gwyneth Paltrow (who plays Pepper Potts in Iron Man) to achieve the perfectly fit body type that filmmakers wanted.

She ended up dropping 14 lbs. to portray the badass special agent to ensure that skintight catsuit pleased those behind the camera and in the audience.

(Source: The Guardian, Daily Mail, Fame10)


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