Don’t Act This Way

Avoid Extreme & Dangerous Makeovers

(photo source: Paramount Pictures)

The Skinny

There are certain things people are just dying to have—like a thinner body, a certain job, maybe a new look. Unfortunately, dying can be the operative word, literally, if unchecked desire or ambition gets in the way of common sense. Actors, in particular, put themselves at risk when trying to radically transform their bodies for certain parts. Here are a few examples of extreme and dangerous makeovers.

Emma Stone (The Favourite)

She may well be a favorite among movie fans, but this actress took extreme and potentially dangerous measures to play the part of Abigail in this period drama. In order to become “the favourite” Stone had to lace on a corset for extended periods, which didn’t do her body any favors.  “Women existed like that for such a long time, which gives you a lot of sympathy for that time period and what they were going through,” she noted after filming. “For the first month, I couldn’t breathe and I would smell menthol and it would make me think I was in a wide-open space and could breathe for a moment in time. After a month, all my organs shifted – it was gross and if you don’t have to, don’t do it.”

Christian Bale (The Machinist)

Christine Bale trimmed his weight by a third in just four months to play the emaciated insomniac Trevor Reznik in The Machinist. To achieve that 60-pound loss, he reportedly lived on water, an apple, and one cup of coffee per day. Oh yeah, he also chain-smoked cigarettes and drank whiskey to lose weight. Amazingly enough, Bale wasn’t satisfied with a 60-pound drop. He wanted to shed another 20 pounds, but the producers stepped in and quashed the idea over health concerns.

Ashton Kutcher (jOBS

Playing the late Apple founder Steve Jobs would be tricky under any circumstance. Ashton Kutcher took the challenge to an extreme. He watched hundreds of hours of footage on Jobs, read all the speeches he could, interviewed every friend of Jobs who would talk and even went as far as adopting his fruitarian diet that demanded only fruits, nuts and seeds. No animal products, vegetables or grains need apply. But what may have been great for the role wasn’t great for Kutcher’s body. In fact, he admitted that he encountered “some serious problems.” So serious that Kutcher ended up in the hospital two days before shooting started. “I was like doubled over in pain, and my pancreas levels were completely out of whack, which was completely terrifying, considering everything,” he explained.

Hugh Jackman (Wolverine Roles)

Hugh Jackman pretty much tortured himself get that gaunt-but-ripped Wolverine look by doing a dehydration regime before shoots. The process is designed to make people look leaner (although Jackman aimed for wasted)—but at a cost. The regime required that Jackman consume about three gallons a day prior to shooting and then, 36 hours before filming, he had to stop drinking anything at all. The extreme dehydration process, coupled with months of workouts, did the trick. “You lose like 10 pounds of water weight,” Jackman said. “But don’t do this at home.” That’s good advice because dehydration can cause kidney damage, cramping, heat exhaustion and potentially heatstroke. Fortunately for him, Jackman was monitored closely by trainers to preclude any dangerous repercussions.

Matt Damon (Courage Under Fire)

Matt Damon cites his work to lose over 50 pounds for his role in this movie as the hardest thing he’s ever done in the film industry. In fact, he admits he would have done virtually anything to get this part, which he pretty much did by putting himself on a chicken diet. What’s even more dangerous is that Damon’s extreme diet was totally unsupervised and involved, well, eating just chicken that he cooked himself. What’s even sadder is that Damon ran 13 miles a day during this time. A doctor later told Damon that he’s lucky he didn’t kill himself or permanently shrink his heart.

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t fool around when it came to preparing for this role as a renowned mountain man who survives a bear attack and then treks out of a hostile wilderness. He camped out in the wilderness; he slept in an animal carcass; ate raw bison; and went for regular swims in frozen rivers. “I can name 30 or 40 sequences that were some of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do,” he said after filming. “Whether it’s going in and out of frozen rivers, or sleeping in animal carcasses, or what I ate on set.” It was a constant battle against freezing cold and hypothermia.

Eyes Up

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