Jamie Bell employed some interesting tactics in an effort to gain weight for a recent role. The British actor portrays a destitute young man raised by racist skinheads who decides to turn his life around in the upcoming new film, Skin, – and the part required him to add several pounds to his frame.
For Bell, 33, expanding his waistline was all part of embracing this character. “This was a man who didn’t have a healthy lifestyle. This is a man who swilled beer and ate barbecue and got in fights and lifted weights, and was literally, kind of, killing himself from the inside out,” Bell told Us Weekly exclusively at a Los Angeles screening of the film on Thursday, July 11. “So I wanted to replicate that a little bit.”
After reading up on skinheads and white supremacists, Bell wasn’t quite identifying with his character, which is why he decided to get contact lenses and gain roughly 20 pounds. “It took a lot of tooling and retooling,” he explained. If I don’t buy it, you all are not going to buy it … It was important for me that when I looked back at myself in the mirror, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy.’ Not that I don’t recognize myself, but to a degree that it’s like I am three, four, five steps away from what I actually am as a human being.”
Though director Guy Nattiv wanted the Fantastic Four star to put on 50 pounds, he could only manage to amass about half of that. “He wanted me to be full, Raging Bull at the end of this movie,” Bell said of the director. “I tried my hardest … but it’s hard. It’s very difficult. It took forever.”
Oddly enough, the Turn alum told Us he thought he’d have an easier time gaining weight now, given that he and wife Kate Mara welcomed their first child together, a daughter, in May. “It’s amazing what your body will take and break down and work off for you,” he said of his weight-gaining process. “It’s doing an extraordinary amount of work all the time, so it was really difficult for me. I think now weirdly that I’ve had a second child, it seems to be much easier!”
According to costar Danielle Macdonald, who plays Bell’s significant other in the film, her fictional partner bulked up with some help from Ben & Jerry. “Jamie was drinking,” the 28-year-old told Us exclusively. “He was actually putting Ben & Jerry’s in a blender and drinking it because he couldn’t stomach eating at anymore. He was trying to eat like two pints of Ben & Jerry’s a day.”
The Dumplin’ star joked that watching the calorie-dense ritual occur made her feel ill, adding: “I felt bad for him. I feel like it’s people’s dream to just eat Ben and Jerry’s everyday and it was sickening.”
With reporting by Nicole Pajer