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The Weight of the World

View Chris Kavan's Profile

By Chris Kavan - 08/07/10 at 09:23 AM CT

I saw it in the news this morning - stars losing weight - John Goodman, Drew Carey, Jennifer Hudson - all have significantly improved their lease on life by dropping up to 100 pounds. Director Peter Jackson has likewise slimmed down a lot since his Lord of the Ring days. I admit, even I've tried to change my habits just a bit to lose a little weight.

So in honor of all those trying to shed pounds, I present my list of the most dramatic weight loss for film role:

1) 50 Cent in Things Fall Apart - Otherwise known as Curtis Jackson, the rapper-turned-actor underwent a severe reduction in weight for the film in which he plays a character with cancer. You can probably find plenty of pictures online. He's since returned to a more normal look, but for awhile there he was rocking the emaciated look so popular with models in the late 90s.

2) Christian Bale in The Machinist - Dropping 63 pounds for an actor who is pretty healthy sounds dangerous, but Bale had no qualms in order to get the role for the film. Luckily Batman was soon in fighting shape again, but seeing him in the film I get a mix of dedication and insanity.

3) Michael Fassbender in Hunger - I guess in a story portraying the hunger strike in prison by the IRA, you're going to have to play it right. Fassbender went on a medically monitored crash diet to give authenticity to the portrayal of the leader of the strike, Bobby Sands. Sands (along with nine other men) succumbed to starvation before the strike ended. Fassbender made sure his dedication to the role gave the part all the more impact.

4) Tom Hanks in Castaway (and Philadelphia) - Hanks lost more weight for Castaway (55) than Philadelphia (26) but the latter was a much more dramatic presentation of a man with AIDS, whereas Castaway was a one-man show about survival - and talking to a volleyball. Still, you have to admire a guy who not once, but twice, took on the task of losing weight to play a role.

5) Colin Farrell in Triage - Shedding 44 pounds the actor went a little more skeletal to portray a war photographer in Bosnia. Maybe not as well known as the other films, but still art is what you make of it and Farrell shocked plenty of people with his gaunt look, but it was worth it to him for the role.

There you are, the list of actors who made an impact by getting thinner (Thinner, consequently, doesn't show up on this list because Robert John Burke used FX to become skinny, not crash dieting). You can say its indulgent, unnecessary or just for publicity - but it takes a lot of effort to shed those pounds. If I'm feeling more indulgent myself, maybe I'll tackle actors who gained a lot of weight some other time.

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