How ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Made Cameron Diaz Healthier

Charlie’s Angels marked the beginning of Cameron Diaz’s health journey. 

The now-47-year-old actress and new mom — she and husband Benji Madden announced the birth of their daughter, Raddix Madden, in Jan. 2020 — opened up about her relationship with food and exercise in 2013’s The Body Book. The first of Diaz’s published works — she followed it up with The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time three years later in 2016 — the Bad Teacher actress explained she didn’t always fuel her body with fruits and vegetables or hit the gym regularly. 

In the pages of The Body Book she revealed it all began with 2000’s Charlie’s Angels. A feature film adaption of the classic ‘70s TV series about a trio of women private investigators, the movie starred Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu

Cameron Diaz ‘had no strength’ and ‘poor eating habits’ 

According to British Marie Claire, Diaz described being ill-prepared for the physicality of her role in Charlie’s Angels in her book. In the film, she and her costars had multiple elaborate fight scenes requiring a lot of training. So, naturally, before filming began the three stars practiced with the help of an expert for the rigorous fight scenes. 

Cameron Diaz attends the MPTF Celebration for health and fitness on June 10, 2016
Cameron Diaz attends the MPTF Celebration for health and fitness on June 10, 2016 | Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

But as Diaz said in The Body Book, she basically started from scratch. “I was 26 years old. I had just quit smoking. I had poor eating habits. I had no strength,” she wrote. “Then I was cast in the Charlie’s Angels movie,” she added. 

Diaz continued, saying she showed up excited — and perhaps a little naive — about training.  “It was autumn, and Drew Barrymore and I arrived to train for our roles on set. Cheung-yan Yuen, who was our martial arts master, was there, along with all of our trainers,” she recalled. “We were so excited. Woo hoo!”

However, the excitement quickly faded when they learned just how serious and intense their training would get. 

Martial arts master told Diaz ‘your new best friend is pain’

Diaz revealed she and Barrymore didn’t know what their training entailed. “We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into,” she wrote. “Cheung-yan Yuen began to speak, and the interpreter translated his words for us. ‘Today,’ he said, ‘I’m going to introduce you to your new best friend. You’re going to learn to love your new best friend.’”

Yuen continued, giving them a taste of what was to come. “‘You’re going to have him with you all of the time. You’re going to cherish him. And he’s going to be a part of your life,’” Diaz recalled before adding, “We were so excited. We looked at each other as if to say, who could it be? And Cheung-yan Yuen said, ‘Your new best friend is pain.’” 

Diaz calls training ‘pivotal moment’ for her ‘physical fitness’

In a March 2014 interview with Furthermore, Diaz opened up about what training for Charlie’s Angels did for her life. She called it a turning point of sorts.

“The day I started martial arts training for Charlie’s Angels was a pivotal moment in my life in terms of my physical fitness,” she said. “It was the first time someone showed me what my very own body had the potential to do.” 

She continued, saying prior to that experience, she “had no concept of the extent to which my body could be trained to be that strong and capable,” noting she and  costars learned “movie fu.” 

As for the pain, she said it went away with time. “Eventually, the pain of 8 hours a day of training subsided and allowed us to execute intricately choreographed fight sequences…in heels.”

Today, Diaz takes care of her body with exercise and eats food from her garden — she once posted homegrown tomatoes on Instagram — and relies on a fitness plan.