Hollywood asks a lot of its major players. Everyone knows that movie stars have to slim down and stay in shape, but many actors have had to go above and beyond for a big role. Whether they’re bouncing back after a pregnancy or getting fit for the first time, these famous celebrities have gotten in amazing shape for a starring movie gig.
1. Gal Gadot
Before she was Wonder Woman, Israeli actress Gal Gadot was struggling to get jobs. She appeared in three of the Fast and the Furious franchise films, and though her character, Gisele, was fearless and a great shot, Gadot remained fairly skinny for the role.
But in order to play an Amazon warrior, she had to gain some muscle. Gadot underwent quite a bit of physical training and stayed on a strict diet to play the superheroine. What’s more, during reshoots, she was actually five months pregnant, and a little green screen magic was employed to cover up her growing belly.
2. Chris Pratt
Actor Chris Pratt went from lovable to an object of lust in a very short time frame. Though many fans know him from his long-lasting TV gigs on Everwood and Parks and Recreation, the goofball brought his talents to the big screen in Guardians of the Galaxy, and became a mega movie star.
While Andy Dwyer was a round-faced dope, Star-Lord was anything but. In order to drop the fat and gain some muscle, Pratt began a severe daily fitness regimen and employed a strict diet.
Men are now clamoring for Peter Quill’s bod, but Pratt seems to reminisce about the days when he could eat whatever he wanted. In fact, his obsession with food is such that he puts out hilarious Instagram videos under the title #WHATSMYSNACK, joking about his Jurassic Park diet in the way only he can.
3. Brad Pitt
If we’re being honest, Brad Pitt has probably never been in bad shape in his life. He was first admired for his slender, muscular frame in 1999’s Fight Club, but just a few years later, he had to bulk up for his role as ancient Greek warrior Achilles, in Troy.
Many have tried to replicate his look. There’s lean Fight Club Pitt, massive Troy Pitt, and salt-and-pepper bearded World War Z Pitt. And though his transformations are intriguing, he clearly stays in shape consistently in order to make these transitions easier.
4. Jennifer Garner
Not so long ago, Jennifer Garner played a superhero. In fact she sort of played two at the same time: For several years, she was a badass spy on Alias, and during that time, she also played Elektra in both Daredevil and the spinoff solo flick.
During this time, she was both very slender and muscular, and maintained a strict diet. In fact, this took such a toll on her that, in later years, she has confessed to taking a more laid-back approach to her health. Garner refuses to go to extremes anymore, and sticks to a more manageable diet and exercise routine. And she still looks great!
5. Christian Bale
Teen star turned serious actor Christian Bale has undergone a few transformations in his time on screen and stage. Though he had to go dark (psychologically speaking) for American Psycho, the most noted change in Bale’s physical appearance was for his role in The Machinist, which he famously lost so much weight for that he was literally starving himself to death. After the film wrapped, Bale had signed on to play the infamous superhero in Batman Begins.
So while some actors just go from an ordinary weight to super buff, Bale actually had to completely shift his mindset toward diet and exercise, in order to bulk up to be Bruce Wayne. His secret? In addition to working out, he credits pizza and ice cream for helping him put the pounds back on.
6. Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank was already a household name when she signed on for Million Dollar Baby, but for a very different role, physically. She famously won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a skinny transgender teen boy in Boys Don’t Cry.
So when it came time for her to play a boxer, Swank had to shift gears considerably. Working out for several hours a day helped her gain 19 pounds of muscle in order to play a convincing athlete.
7. Hugh Jackman
When he was first cast as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, Hugh Jackman was a lean man of the stage, known for his singing and dancing role in Oklahoma. Not exactly who you’d picture to play a hairy, scary mutant.
But Jackman stepped up to the task — and then some. Over the years, Jackman has portrayed the character in an impressive nine films, counting his X-Men: First Class cameo. So he’s had to bulk up, slim down, and bulk up again depending on his other roles on several occasions. The lengths that he has gone to are astonishing, and Screen Rant has detailed them extensively, if that’s your thing.
8. Scarlett Johansson
As an actress known for her curves, Scarlett Johansson has faced plenty of criticism in the looks department. The unrealistic expectations for women on camera are difficult enough to deal with, but it’s twice as tough to be told you need to both maintain a womanly figure and lose weight.
But Johansson seems to take it all in stride. When she took on the part of Black Widow in the Marvel franchise, the actress both toned up and slimmed down. She had to maintain this for numerous films, and, while shooting Avengers: Age of Ultron, was actually pregnant.
Between her and Gadot, it’s as if the actresses behind superheroines are badass heroes themselves.
9. Mickey Rourke
The younger the actor, the easier it (generally) is to get into shape. Mickey Rourke, the oldest star on this list by far, was in his fifties when he played “The Ram,” a retired wrestler who attempts to hold onto fame and his sport despite his waning health.
Rourke himself is a retired athlete, but as he explained to MTV, comparing “wrestling and boxing is like [comparing] Ping-Pong and rugby.” He worked with an Israeli trainer preparing for months ahead of time, and, according to The Wrestler director Darren Aronofsky, Rourke was “better than 80 percent of the WWF guys out there.” That’s some serious dedication.
10. Natalie Portman
Meanwhile, for Aronofsky’s next film, Black Swan, actress Natalie Portman was preparing extensively. The slender star had played several demanding roles prior to taking on a troubled ballerina, but likely none were quite as strenuous.
As the former dancer explained, the diet and training to become the best on stage is incredibly intense, and Portman put herself through much of what the professionals dancers deal with. In addition to working with a dance trainer, she barely ate, and had to work quickly to get into proper ballerina shape. Portman later said it was the most difficult thing she’s ever experienced.
11. Tom Hardy
British actor Tom Hardy has undergone so many physical transformations, it’s starting to take a serious toll on his body. Before he took on the eponymous role in Bronson, he was a fairly slim, fit guy. But playing the famous prisoner required him to pack on the pounds. According to Hardy, they were not as concerned with his muscle mass at the time as they were with how “big” he was, and so post-filming, he found himself fatter than he’d ever been.
However, he quickly turned this around, bulking up for his major roles in Warrior and The Dark Knight Rises. Now that he has achieved a significant level of stardom, hopefully he won’t have to undergo all of these drastic transformations. Hardy has lamented that he feels he has “damaged” his body due to the number of times he has had to gain and lose weight.
12. Zoe Saldana
Like so many on this list, Zoe Saldana has had to get into shape for many of her roles. The sci-fi queen has shared her workouts for films such as Colombiana, Avatar, and Star Trek Beyond. In fact, for that last film, she had had twins only months earlier, and was able to get back into such good shape that she fit into her Guardians of the Galaxy costume from the year prior!
So how did she do it? Saldana isn’t really the heavy cardio type, said her trainer. The actress was once a dancer, so she turned to things like Pilates and plyometrics to help her get toned. Her diet is also key: Saldana has an autoimmune disease, so she is very strict about what she eats.
13. Gerard Butler
Likely one of the most sought-out celebrity workouts is still that of Gerard Butler’s for 300. In order to play the Spartan king, Butler endured what is now a legendary training regiment in order to sculpt his decidedly more out-of-shape body and modern mentality into that of an ancient warrior.
If that doesn’t sound intense enough, check out the details that went into his workouts for months on end. As a result, the unknown actor became a household name, and men strived to look like Butler in the film.
14. Linda Hamilton
In the ’90s, heroin chic was the look of many celebs. But the decade began with a slender female icon who has gone on to be the poster child for women in Hollywood who want to appear strong and badass. Enter Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in the Terminator franchise.
After suffering from an ankle injury throughout the taping of the first film, Hamilton returned in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as the picture of a tough woman. After weeks of training, the actress was able to bench press 85 pounds and was skilled with an assault rifle.
Even her famously muscular co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger was allegedly impressed.
15. Michael B. Jordan
You’re likely not alone if, when you think of Michael B. Jordan, you picture skinny little Wallace from The Wire. But the accomplished actor has come a long way since the HBO hit, both in talent and in size.
While he was working on Fantastic Four, Jordan was up for the part of a young boxer-in-training in Creed. So his trainer on set began to prepare him for the role ahead of time, and when he landed the gig, Jordan took the trainer with him.
Sylvester Stallone, who reprised his role of Rocky in Creed, thought Jordan was in better shape than he was during the filming of the original franchise.