Renée Zellweger famously gained 30 pounds to play the titular role in 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, repeating the process again for the 2004 sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. By the time she filmed Bridget Jones’s Baby, however, the Oscar winner was tired of talking about her weight.
“I put on a few pounds. I also put on some breasts and a baby bump,” she told British Vogue in August 2016. “Bridget is a perfectly normal weight and I’ve never understood why it matters so much. No male actor would get such scrutiny if he did the same thing for a role.”
To Zellweger’s point, male stars more often make headlines when they lose a lot of weight for a role, as Matthew McConaughey did for the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club. The Mud star shed nearly 50 pounds to play Ron Woodruff, a real-life Texan who founded an underground medication distribution group after being diagnosed with HIV.
“I did it in as healthy a way as I found possible,” the Greenlights author told the BBC in February 2014, adding that he “chewed a lot of ice” during the shoot. “I met with a nutritionist. I gave myself four months to lose the weight. I had my programmed meals, lost 3.5 pounds a week — like clockwork — and got down to my desired weight, which turned out to be 47 pounds lighter.”
One month later, McConaughey took home the best actor award at the Oscars, while his costar Jared Leto won in the best supporting category for his performance in the same movie. The Suicide Squad star, who played Rayon, lost more than 40 pounds for the film, which was directed by the late Jean-Marc Vallée.
“I wouldn’t do it at the drop of a hat, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone and I think it can be incredibly dangerous,” the My So-Called Life alum told Yahoo! of his weight loss in February 2014. “But it depends what you’re putting into your body and taking out of it as well.”
Leto admitted that he couldn’t immediately readjust to his regular eating habits after filming was over. “Your stomach gets so small that you can only eat a few tablespoons of something and you’re full already,” he explained. “It would be fun to maybe at the end eat an entire pie, but you end up just looking at it.”
Keep scrolling to see which celebrities have gained or lost weight for movie roles.