Women of America watching their weight: Bradley Cooper feels your pain. Well, sort of. Packing on 40 pounds of muscle to play the role of the late United States Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in American Sniper, Cooper tells Men's Health he consumed an insane 6,000 calories a day — and had to be force-fed! — while getting into character. "I had to get to the point where I believed I was him," Cooper, 40, told the fitness magazine. "At 185 pounds, it would've been a joke....Chris wasn't ripped. He wasn't sinewy. He was just a bear."
Cooper's pre-production journey wasn't all Twinkies and Oreos, either. In order to do the least amount of damage to his body while bulking up, Cooper — under the guidance of trainer Jason Walsh and a personal chef — took in five meals a day, along with energy bars and the pre- and post-workout drink Plazma. "It was a real shock to my body. If it's pizza and cake, that's one thing. Putting 6,000 calories a day in your body gets old quick," Cooper said.
His caloric intake was in addition to grueling workouts with Walsh that consisted of exercises like Bulgarian split squats and single-leg deadlifts.
Having grown out of a whole wardrobe and worn elastic-waist pants almost daily, the star's transformation was nothing short of spectacular. "Without that kind of caloric intake and the ability to recover, he probably wouldn't have made it," Cooper's trainer Walsh said. "You could see him becoming Chris Kyle. His beard grew, and he just got burly. He looked forward to coming in every day and seeing what he could do."
Once American Sniper filming wrapped, Cooper reversed the process to drop his bulk, ironically enough to play a chef in his next film. Now, the actor is down to his regular 185 lbs. while appearing in Broadway's The Elephant Man.
As Cooper tells Men's Health, his temporary transformation will stay with him forever. "I knew this was going to be the way in to playing Chris, and it felt amazing. It"s also nice to know it"s possible to do it naturally, in that amount of time."
The Clint Eastwood-helmed film netted a staggering $110M in its debut weekend Jan. 16 through 19. American Sniper earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and a Best Actor in a Leading Role nod for Cooper.