Going hungry for ‘Les Mis’
MANILA, Philippines - The actors in Les Miserables were miserable alright. They painfully shed pounds just to authentically portray their characters.
Anne Hathaway, already elf-thin in her normal state, shed 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms) for her role as Fantine in the upcoming musical film Les Miserables. The drastic weight loss was for Anne to get as close as possible to the condition of her character, an impoverished prostitute and single mother who sells her hair and teeth just to keep her child alive.
The dedicated actress describes her crash diet in an article in Younghollywood.com.
“I couldn't sleep. I was so starving, my body was keeping me awake at night, like it was telling me, 'Go look for food!' I was kind of in this otherworldly, slightly ecstatic manic state all the time.”
Before filming, Anne had already shed 10 pounds. When filming began, the production schedule required her to lose 14 more pounds in 14 days. That’s one pound a day. At the end of 2 weeks, she had lost 15 pounds.
The task of crash-dieting consumed her.
She remembers, “I had nothing else going on in my life, so there was no way to distract myself. At the end of a long day, I couldn't go home and comfort myself with a drink or with food. It was all Les Mis, all the time.”
Her co-star Hugh Jackman, who played the lead role of Jean Valjean, had his own weight to stress about for the production.
The usually smiling, hunky Jackman transformed himself into a specter with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes by not eating food or drinking any water for as long as 36 hours at a time. He coupled this with 3 hours of gym work to develop the stone-hewn muscles of a convict doomed to the galleys.
The starvation he endured was only bearable because of the monumental role he was enduring it for. The Australian actor said in an article on dailymail.co.uk, “‘I realized the sacrifices had been worth it, that the headaches, dizziness — and the grumpiness — had been a relatively small price to pay.”
All in all, the 44-year-old actor lost 20 pounds then gained them back with an additional 10 pounds to play Father Madeleine, Jean Valjean’s wealthy alter-ego.
How to achieve his ravenous look?
“The non-consumption of liquids is a very clever bodybuilders’ trick for giving one sunken cheeks and sunken eyes and, boy, did it work. Maybe just a little too well…”
But radical Hollywood diets are a natural occurrence in Tinseltown where roles can be very demanding and actors equally responsive to the roles that can make or break their careers.
Usually buff and athletic Matthew McConaughey shocked the world when he appeared on set scarily thin for his new role as a man who contracts HIV/AIDS through drug use in the film, The Dallas Buyer’s Club.
For the role, the 42-year-old Texan actor lost 30 pounds, subsisting on tea and bathing his rigorous diet in a philosophical light. In an interview with Larry King, he said the experience was “a spiritual cleanse, a mental cleanse.”
See the interview here:
But his feat doesn’t come close to that of Christian Bale who lost a staggering 63 pounds to play Trevor Reznik in the 2004 film, The Machinist. His emaciated body powerfully depicted the desperation of a machinist who hadn’t slept for a year due to chronic insomnia.
Funnily enough, the film’s director, Brad Anderson, didn’t even require Bale to lose that much weight. A loss of 40 pounds would have been enough but the dedicated British actor felt his body could survive losing more. It did, but that didn’t stop the whole world from debating over his anorexic-like thinness and his (for some) over-the-top dedication to his role.
See for yourself how thin Bale got in The Machinist trailer:
For actors who endure starvation, dizziness and even slight personality changes due to the weight loss required for their roles, the pain (and the calories) go to the roles they hope will inspire and move the world. - Rappler.com