- Robert De Niro
As far as we know, Robert De Niro was the first actor to put on the pounds to bag a part.
In Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull, released in 1980, De Niro plays Jake LaMotta. To take on the role of the ageing and faded boxer, the actor had to gain 60lbs. Scorsese sent him on a culinary tour of Italy to binge on pizza and pasta. It worked.
The final scenes had to be filmed in as few takes as possible because De Niro would get tired very quickly. “His breathing was like mine when I have an asthma attack,” the director said. The effort was worth it: De Niro won an Oscar for Best Actor.
- George Clooney
Clooney is, aside from De Niro, the only actor to win an Oscar for a role which involved putting on weight. For Syriana, in 2005, Clooney stopped doing exercise and wolfed down an endless supply of doughnuts and chips, managing to pack on 35lbs in just 30 days.
“My job was to eat as much as I could, as fast as I could,” said the actor in an interview. “I just ate until I wanted to throw up, and made sure I didn’t throw up.”
- Jared Leto
For his role as John Lennon’s assassin in Chapter 27, Jared Leto put on so much weight that he became unrecognisable. And he did it all with the help of what we might call the “anti-detox shake”.
Leto invented a concoction containing microwaved ice cream, olive oil and soya sauce, which he glugged back as if he was downing shots at a Jägermeister party.
“It was a devastating process” said Leto in an interview with MTV in 2007. “There wasn’t a single moment of joy for the months that I worked on it (…) It changed the way that I walked, it changed the way that I talked, it changed the way I felt about myself and the way people looked at me and treated me.”
- Ryan Gosling
What happened to Ryan Gosling really was a big fat bummer. In 2009, he put on 60lbs for his part in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. The director then fired Gosling as soon as the actor walked on set.
The actor (who also used the microwaved ice cream technique) had decided that his character should be overweight, but he’d failed to discuss it with Jackson beforehand.
“I was 150lbs when he hired me and when I showed up on set I was 210lbs. I really believed the character should be like that, but I got it wrong. Jackson said ‘You look terrible’. I said, ‘I know, isn’t it great?'”. It wasn’t. They fired Gosling and replaced him with Mark Wahlberg.
- Colin Farrell
Another member of the melted ice cream brigade. Irish actor Colin Farrell put on 40lbs for his role in Lobster. As well as the ice cream, he also loaded up with cheeseburgers, chips, and chocolate cake from 10 AM each morning.
“It wasn’t much fun, even though I love hamburgers,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “I’d microwave pints of Häagen-Dazs and drink them. I’ve always been more than a drinker than an eater, so I took that route.”
- Matt Damon
For the film The Informant, Matt Damon took his battle with the weighing scales very seriously: every day he’d scoff cheeseburgers, chips, fillets in béarnaise sauce, Doritos, sweet potato pancakes with fresh cream, and Caesar salad with breaded chicken.
“I definitely got doughy. I started eating like crazy and drinking dark beer,” Damon told the Daily Mail in 2009. “Between meals on set, I’d eat a No. 1 Value Meal at McDonalds and then Doritos on top of it. It was very, very fun, probably the funnest time I had working.”
- Christian Bale
Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t too happy that the Christian Bale she’d be co-starring with in American Hustle was a million miles away from the Caped Crusader. “I finally get to make out with Christian Bale and he’s Fatman, not Batman,” she joked.
Apparently, Bale wasn’t that happy about his binge-eating marathon either. “You do it for two months and your body starts to rebel against you, it’s just saying ‘No, please,’ and your back is aching” he said in an interview for On the Red Carpet in 2013.