Stars’ Extreme Diet and Fitness Routines to Fit the Role

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how do actors prepare for roles

Jake Gyllenhaal’s ripped physique in Southpaw, Anne Hathaway’s slimmed down build in Les Miserables; stars have always taken their exercise and diet routines to extreme limits in order to play the part in films, but how do they do it?

Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in “Black Swan”

Portman and Kunis have always had slender physiques, but in order to play cut-throat, obsessive ballerinas, the stars both had to drop 20 pounds. Kunis spent seven months training four hours per day, every day of the week, and drastically cutting back on calories, eating very small portions of a balanced diet. Portman, who was already a vegan, continued to eat many of the same foods, although in smaller portions. For nearly a year she trained with a former professional ballerina, spending up to eight hours, six days per week, doing swimming, cross-training, and ballet classes in order to get the ballerina physique.

Chris Hemsworth in “Thor”

When Hemsworth took on the role of “Thor”, he gained 30 pounds of muscle to transform his body into the God-like physique needed. To do this Hemsworth stuck to a strict eating schedule, packing away huge amounts of protein, rice and vegetables every three hours, even when he wasn’t hungry. It also meant spending at least two hours a day doing an intense work-out regimen of not just weight-lifting in his home gym but also aspects of Crossfit, martial arts and boxing. One surprising aspect of his get-fit routine? Sleeping, which he says was an important part of the equation.

Anne Hathaway in “Les Miserables”

Portraying a starving prostitute meant Hathaway had to drop 25 pounds through an initial two-week cleanse, followed by two weeks of a diet of two dried oatmeal paste squares each day. Why such a harsh diet? The actress needed to look near death, her character was dying from tuberculosis after all, so exercising was off the table.

Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”

Cooper took on the role of the Navy SEAL with just ten weeks to gain 40 pounds of muscle. In order to pull of this near impossibility he turned to a professional trainer and began working out twice a day. Starting with basic exercises like deadlifts and squats he then moved on to traditional weightlifting techniques. To top it all off, Cooper ate a whopping 5,000 calories each day which included 5 meals, protein drinks and energy bars.

Beyonce in “Dream Girls”

Beyonce needed to trim down her usually curvaceous body in order to play the slim 16-year old in the film. In order to lose 20 pounds in two short weeks, the star turned to the Master Cleanse Diet, which meant eating no solid food and drinking daily 6-12 glasses of water mixed with lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. She does admit to cheating a bit by drinking protein drinks and eating fish and vegetables.

Jake Gyllenhaal in “South Paw”

Aiming for authenticity, as well as a seriously ripped physique, Gyllenhaal worked with a professional boxing coach to prepare for the role. Starting at just 147 pounds, Gyllenhaal gained 28 pounds of hard muscle through running, jump roping, boxing drills, and weight training. All of that training had one benefit, an unrestricted diet with only one edict; lots of protein.

Don’t think you could get the same results as your favorite star? You’re probably right, but with good reason. While the stars worked with nutritionists and personal trainers almost round the clock to obtain these extreme results, they are nearly universally considered unhealthy.

Also read: Acting in the Theatre can be Very Intense, do Actors Get Enough Sleep?

Categories: Theatre Thoughts

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