Actors having to gain or lose weight for a role has become a point of controversy going back to the earliest days of the movie industry. When the studio system was underway during Hollywood’s gilded age, most of that weight loss was inflicted on the young women under contract, most notoriously Judy Garland.
We’re far removed from that sometimes perplexing era, yet the expectation to maintain one’s weight is still a major issue in the world of Hollywood. Even male actors have had to endure pressure to lose or gain weight for a role.
Sometimes it’s just personally willed by the actor, with Christian Bale being one of the most notable. After losing 70 lbs. between doing Vice and Ford v. Ferrari, Bale says he won’t be losing any more weight, likely realizing how dangerous yo-yo dieting is.
Is losing or gaining weight regularly bad for an actor’s health?
There is scientific evidence available proving yo-yo diets can do one’s body some harm if doing this procedure regularly. For one thing, it adds more body fat percentage, which is already the worst thing for one’s body.
Over time, doing these diets can also lead to diabetes and heart disease. Actors still take too many dares doing these weight loss and gain procedures. Other actors who’ve done them include Matthew McConaughey and even Adam Driver.
Actresses aren’t doing this much anymore because of the stigma of how the studio system forced their roster of women to keep their weight low. Regardless, we’re still seeing a subtle pressure for women actors to keep their weight to a certain level, outside of many plus size women making acting headway.
For Bale, he had to gain a lot of weight for the role of Dick Cheney in Vice. Eating more is clearly a fun way to gain weight for a role, but he had to burn it off within a short time before filming Ford v. Ferrari to play Ken Miles, a British race car driver in the 1960s.
Christian Bale says he had to lose weight to fit in the race cars
As a reminder of just how small and tight those classic race cars are, Bale recently noted he had to lose his Dick Cheney weight in mere months to fit in those cars for his Ken Miles role. This meant losing up to 70 lbs. faster than any human is supposed to do without causing health risks.
His own nutritionist expressed open alarm about Bale’s yo-yo dieting for movie roles — and he apparently listened. In a recent interview with Variety, Bale said he’s come to the time where he probably won’t do it again.
Over time, he’s noted it gets tougher to lose the weight for the diverse roles he takes on. All that up and down weight gain and loss have gone on a little too long, making it worth pondering if Bale received a doctoral warning.
After years of doing this — more than 20 years, to be precise — there’s all possibility Bale has already hurt his health without realizing it. For real method actors, though, will they listen to reason and stop doing crazy dieting as a form of realism?
Will we finally see the end of crazy actor diets?
There are still a few off-the-wall method actors out there who might go to extremes merely to uphold their art. Maybe Bale has finally seen the light — or so he says. What about some of the younger talents like Robert Pattinson?
The latter is already devoted to doing crazy things to make his performances look more convincing. Some might say he’s ushering in more extremism in his acting to a point of being physically and psychologically damaging.
The era of daring actors like Bale might not be over. Most likely, it’ll be a lot rarer in a time when maintaining health has much more value in reality.