Body transformation is a regular process for an actor to undertake, depending on how much they’re willing to commit. Any star that plays a superhero is expected to look their best for the contractually obligated shirtless scenes, but when it comes to packing on the pounds or losing them, there can often be lasting long-term effects.
Tom Hanks was diagnosed as diabetic not too long after he’d shed 55 pounds in a short space of time to convince as a man stranded on a desert island in Cast Away, and he admitted that his constantly fluctuating weight brought on by the characters he played was at least partly responsible. Jared Leto, meanwhile, ended up with gout after mixing microwaved pints of ice cream with soy sauce and olive oil to gain 67 pounds in order to play John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27, and he even ended up in a wheelchair at one stage.
And then there’s Christian Bale’s, whose physician must have come close to having a heart attack when he went from The Machinist straight onto Batman Begins, then a couple of years later slimmed down for The Fighter before bingeing on junk food to get out of shape for American Hustle. Denzel Washington isn’t above suffering in the name of his craft, either, and in a recent interview, he revealed his top secret Method acting trick for embodying Joe Deacon in his new thriller The Little Things.
“There was a Joe Deacon diet. The sacrifices I make for my character. Gaining the weight, that’s a piece of cake. Literally a piece of cake. Eating big late. It’s not healthy, but it works. Milkshakes were my friend. Ice cream was my very good friend.”
It’s not a bad gig to get paid a few million dollars to have a slice of cake every day to convince as a grizzled world-weary detective, and at 66 years old, you certainly can’t say that Washington doesn’t deserve a little sweet treat now and again after putting the work in over the last four decades.