Tilda Swinton plays two roles in the new version of the supernatural horror classic "Suspiria," and in one of them—the part of an aging male psychotherapist—she's virtually unrecognizable. But she's not the only actor willing to undergo an extreme transformation for a performance. Here, as Swinton turns 58, are some prime examples.
Robert De Niro — "Raging Bull"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Make that two transformations. First De Niro worked out in a boxing ring for three months—with Jake LaMotta, the real-life champ he played in 1980's "Raging Bull," as his trainer. Then the Oscar-winning actor packed on nearly 60 pounds for the movie's final scenes.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: He went on a restaurant tour in Italy and France, indulging in supersized portions of pasta and pastries as well as beer and ice cream. "The first 15 pounds was fun," De Niro said. "The rest was hard work."
Charlize Theron — "Monster"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Theron, a South Africa-born former dancer and model, gained 30 pounds to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos, the title character in this dark 2003 biopic.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: "I first began stuffing myself with Krispy Kreme doughnuts, but after a while I got sick of them," Theron said. "I love potato chips, so that was a good thing for me." She got back in shape not long after the filming was completed, but last year put on 50 pounds for her role in "Tully." This time losing the extra weight wasn't so easy. "You know, your body at 27 is a little different than your body at 43," Theron noted.
Tom Hanks — "Cast Away"
THE TRANSFORMATION: To play a middle-aged FedEx employee. Hanks first put on 50 pounds for the early scenes of this 2000 survival film. He then dropped 55 pounds for the rest of the movie, in which his character spends years marooned on a desert island.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: His weight-loss diet focused on seafood and vegetables plus water and coconut milk. Hanks, who also gained and lost weight for his roles in "A League of Their Own" and "Philadelphia," won't do that again. In 2013, he revealed that he has Type 2 diabetes. Whatever the cause, Hanks' yo-yo dieting in the name of art certainly didn't help.
Rooney Mara — "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
THE TRANSFORMATION: In real life Mara liked to wear "girly, frilly things," in sharp contrast to Lisbeth Salander, the androgynous computer hacker she played in this 2011 crime thriller.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: She had her eyebrows bleached, parts of her head shaved and the remaining hair dyed black. The tattoos were fake, but Mara—who previously didn't't even have pierced ears—got actual piercings in her ears, nose, lip and nipple. Reflecting on the role, she told Vogue, "I have really enjoyed being a boy this last year,"
Matthew McConaughey — "Dallas Buyers Club"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Previously known as a rom-com star and a favorite of paparazzi who liked to photograph him shirtless on the beach, the famously fit McConaughey lost 47 pounds to play an AIDS patient in 2013's "Dallas Buyers Club."
HOW IT WENT DOWN: He began by consulting with a nutritionist—and calling Tom Hanks. At the outset, McConaughey did "a lot of exercise, burning 1,800 calories a day," coupled with a fish-and-vegetables diet. "I fed myself good food, just not much of it," he told Vanity Fair. "I found through this journey that the human body is much more resilient than we give it credit for."
Vincent D'Onofrio — "Full Metal Jacket"
THE TRANSFORMATION: D'Onofrio packed on more than 60 pounds and shaved his head to play an overweight Marine recruit in 1987's "Full Metal Jacket." The change was so drastic that when he appeared a year later as the rugged fisherman in love with Jojo (Lili Taylor) in "Mystic Pizza," few moviegoers realized it was the same actor.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: He ate until "even my nose was fat," D'Onofrio recalled. ''It changed my life," he told the New York Times. "Women didn't look at me; most of the time I was looking at their backs as they were running away.''
Hilary Swank — "Boys Don't Cry" and "Million Dollar Baby"
THE TRANSFORMATION: She lost weight, strapped down her breasts and adopted male mannerisms to play Brandon Teena, a young woman passing as a guy in 1999's "Boys Don't Cry." Then, for 2004's "Million Dollar Baby," Swank turned herself into a ripped boxer. She won Oscars for both roles.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: "I started working out five hours a day," she told the Hollywood Reporter, adding, "I had to eat 60 egg whites in a day and I couldn't. So every morning I would drink them. I had to eat every hour and a half ... I put on 23 pounds of muscle."
Christian Bale — "The Machinist"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Previously in great shape, Bale looked positively skeletal in 2004's "The Machinist," weighing in at 121 pounds—about 60 pounds less than normal.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: "I came up with the absolutely brilliant method of just smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey to lose weight," Bale said years later. "But then when I tried it once again in my 40s, that didn't work quite as well. I was waking up with heart palpitations."
Christian Bale — "American Hustle"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Nearly a decade after "The Machinist," Bale went to the opposite extreme, gaining 43 pounds for his role as a con man with a big belly and a bad combover in 2013's "American Hustle."
HOW IT WENT DOWN: "It's easy to start with," he told People magazine. "You're just sitting on your butt and you're eating lots of doughnuts ... But 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 ... and then you've got to lose the weight at the end of it, you know? I wish it was simple."
Demi Moore — "G.I. Jane"
THE TRANSFORMATION: To play the title character in the 1997 action film "G.I. Jane," Moore turned herself into a lean, mean fighting machine.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: Working with former Navy SEAL Scott Helvenston as her personal trainer, Moore actually went through the kind of ordeal depicted in the movie, running obstacle courses and enduring long hours of calisthenics while sticking to a strict protean-and-vegetables diet.
Jared Leto — "Chapter 27"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Claire Danes' crush in "My So-Called Life" became pasty and bloated for the role of Mark David Chapman, the overweight psychotic who killed John Lennon, in this 2007 biopic.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: As Leto tells it, he put on more than 60 pounds "by eating everything you think you're not supposed to"—including whole pints of chocolate Haagen Dazs ice cream, which he microwaved and then drank.
Jake Gyllenhaal — "Southpaw"
THE TRANSFORMATION: After dropping to 147 pounds to achieve the lean-and-hungry look he wanted for"Nightcrawler," Gyllenhaal added 28 pounds of solid muscle to play a boxer in the 2015 drama "Southpaw."
HOW IT WENT DOWN: He exercised for up to six hours a day, running eight miles and doing a total of 2,000 sit-ups seven days a week.
Renée Zellweger — "Bridget Jones' Diary"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Zellweger went from size 8 to size 12 for her role in this 2001 rom-com.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: With the support of a nutritionist and a personal chef, she gorged herself on rich foods, eating a dozen courses a day. Zellweger returned to her normal fitness regimen after the movie wrapped, but regained the weight three years later for the sequel "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason."
Ben Kingsley — "Gandhi"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Kingsley shaved his head and dropped 20 pounds for the 1982 role that won him an Oscar.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: To lose weight and get in character, Sir Ben simply adopted Mahatma Gandhi's vegetarian diet. He also took up yoga and meditation.
George Clooney — "Syriana"
THE TRANSFORMATION: A year after playing a suave and stylish thief in "Ocean's Twelve," Clooney bulked up for the role of a veteran CIA agent in this 2005 geopolitical thriller.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: Putting on 35 pounds was "not nearly as fun as it sounds," as Clooney tells it. "My job was just to eat as fast as I could, as much as I could," he told Men's Journal, adding, "But mostly you just ate until you wanted to throw up, and made sure you didn't throw up. So that was my job for a month, was eating."
Matt Damon — "The Informant!"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Damon had starred in three Bourne films when he accepted the title role in this 2009 comedy-crime movie, but the muscular look of a martial artists and CIA assassin didn't make sense for a corporate whistleblower. So he packed on 30 pounds.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: Unlike his "Ocean's Twelve" co-star George Clooney, Damon has fond memories of gorging himself. "It was very, very easy to gain the weight," he said, adding, "I started eating like crazy and drinking dark beer. Between meals on set, I'd eat a No. 1 Value Meal at McDonald's and then Doritos on top of it. It was absolute heaven."
Natalie Portman — "Black Swan"
THE TRANSFORMATION: The already waif-like Portman lost 20 pounds fo her role in this 2010 psychological horror movie—not to change her look but to turn herself into a ballerina.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: Portman practiced ballet for at least eight hours a day, while subsisting on almonds and carrots and not much else. "There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die," she told Entertainment Weekly. "It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down."
Russell Crowe — "Body of Lies"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Just a couple of years after he played the romantic lead in "A Good Year," Crowe ballooned to 257 pounds for another Ridley Scott film, the 2008 spy thriller "Body of Lies." "It just felt right for the character and it's what Ridley wanted as well," he told Access Hollywood.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: Crowe's weight-gain strategy was pretty straightforward: "Bring on the burgers, baby!"
Tilda Swinton — "Grand Budapest Hotel"
THE TRANSFORMATION: Wes Anderson's 2014 comedy "The Grand Budapest Hotel" won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Makeup, thanks in part to Swinton's appearance as the 84-year-old Madame D,
HOW IT WENT DOWN: Then a youthful-looking 53, Swinton was coated in "a very soft silicone rubber that's encapsulated in a plastic barrier that dissolves into the skin," said makeup artist Mark Coulier. She then put on lipstick "like an old lady." Referring to the makeup process, Swinton told the Chicago Tribune, "I had a whole team taking these bits of what looked like bacon and putting them on my face and arms and earlobes. It's fascinating. I'm such a nerd about that kind of stuff. I really, really loved it."
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