Getting back to his ‘Fight Club’ roots, Edward Norton played former neo-Nazi skinhead Derek Vinyard, in the crime noir ‘American History X.’ His character was forced to change his role as a white supremacist leader after being thrown in prison for manslaughter. You have to be tough to survive prison, and Norton embodied the look with a shaved head and a lean and mean exterior.
We knew Norton more as an intellectual than a badass, prior to ‘American History X,’ but the Yale grad managed to pack on the Popeye for this film. To make the transition, he mixed strength-building exercises like squats and presses with a high-protein diet. Norton had help from Anthony Krotes, his weightlifting coach. Under his guidance, Norton gained 30 pounds of muscle, achieving the sculpted yet scrappy physique of Derek Vinyard. Norton received an Oscar nomination for his role.
Michael Fassbender Wasted Away for ‘Hunger’
After a 10-week regimen of a 900-calorie daily diet and aerobic exercise, Michael Fassbender lost 42 pounds to play Bobby Sands in 'Hunger.' Sands was a young prisoner who led the second Provisional Irish Republican Army hunger strike in 1981. He died after 66 days without food. The film won the 2008 Camera D’or prize. The exercise included yoga, walking, and skipping. Weighing just 127 pounds, Fassbender said, “It is such a psychological prison.”
The extreme weight loss, surviving on nuts, berries, and sardines, caused him to lose more than body fat. “What was also interesting was that my libido left me,” Fassbender said to the Sunday Times Culture magazine. On the other hand, he gained some too. “I was so focused, it was unbelievable. I felt I had the answers to so many things.”
Ryan Gosling Gets Fat for ‘The Lovely Bones’
Ryan Gosling packed on the pounds to portray Jack Salmon, the grieving dad in 'The Lovely Bones.' He gained 60 pounds on a quest to hit 210, guzzling melted Häagen-Dazs to aid the process. As it turned out, he and director Peter Jackson didn’t see eye-to-eye on the project. “We didn’t talk very much during the pre-production process, which was the problem,” Gosling admitted. The outcome? As Gosling puts it, “I was fat and unemployed.”
Ultimately, Mark Wahlberg landed the role in 'The Lovely Bones,' an adaption of Alice Sebold’s bestselling novel. Paramount Pictures cited creative differences for letting Gosling go, but in the end, he was just too fat. However, Fran Walsh, director Jackson’s wife and collaborator on the film, disagreed. She stated, “Ryan came to us two or three times and said, ‘I’m not the right person for this role. I’m too young.’” She claimed that they wanted to work with him telling Gosling, “We can age you up.” Gosling maintains that it was the extra weight that lost him the gig.
Christian Bale Transforms for ‘American Hustle’
In 'The Machinist,' Christian Bale shriveled down to nothing, but in 'American Hustle,' he swung to the opposite extreme. He gained 42 pounds to play Irving Rosenfeld, the big-city con man from the Bronx. To fully implement the appearance of the unsavory swindler, Bale went to other extremes. He slouched, first of all, and it took three inches off his height. However, slouching caused his back to herniate - another sacrifice.
He also shaved a receding hairline into his mop of thick tresses in order to give the comb-over the proper effect. His transformation was shocking. His co-star Robert De Niro can attest!
Ryan Reynolds Steps Up His Game with ‘Blade: Trinity’
Ryan Reynolds is a fitness geek, but before landing the role in 'Blade: Trinity,' things were different. After bulking up with 25 pounds of rock-solid muscle in just 3 months, the 6’2” comic actor sees things differently. Reynolds said that the intense workout regimen taught him that nothing is impossible. He worked out six days a week on a 3,200-calorie diet while accomplishing feats of the extreme.
He ran the N.Y.C. marathon in 3 hours and 50 minutes and climbed the 8,000-foot Machu Pichu. If that doesn't impress you, he can do standing back flips. Keeping the muscle on, he has scored roles in 'Deadpool,' 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine,' and 'The Green Lantern.'