Here at Fitness 101, we are always impressed by people that are able to transform their bodies. Before and after shots are always great fun to see, and can provide healthy inspiration to keep you motivated during darker times when your diet or training becomes hard. Although most people don’t give celebrities much credit for this (they perhaps have it easier than the average Joe with dedicated nutritionists, trainers and high budgets!), there have however been some impressive transformations that actors have made for movie roles. Here are some of our favourites (in no particular order!):

1. Edward Norton – American History X

Edward Norton is normally known as a relatively skinny guy. His transformation in his role as Derek Vinyard was noteworthy not just because of his acting as the believable, and often very intimidating neo-nazi, but also his physical transformation. Norton packed on an estimated 12-18lbs of lean muscle during the training for this movie through hard work and diet, and really looked the part. Unfortunately he then had to lose it all again for future roles, but he definitely had a physique that most men would be proud of.

edward norton skinny muscle american history x


2. Tom Hanks – Castaway

Tom Hanks had to put on 40lbs to play his role as Chuck Noland, which he said he hated. He felt horribly fat and overweight. But this was all to create a contrast in physiques, as once filming of the first half of the movie was complete, Hanks then had a whole year off to lose the weight and “look after his unkempt hair and beard”.

tom hanks fat thin castaway


3. Gerard Butler – 300

Perhaps one of the most famous movie transformations is Gerard Butler as King Leonidas in the epic movie 300. In this movie everyone seems to be big and completely ripped with 8 packs! Initially a lot of people suggested that this was done by CGI, but the results were in fact real. Gerard has maintained some of the weight and physique he had in 300, although his weight does tend to balloon up and down since the days when he was super skinny like the photo below.

gerard butler skinny, and then big in 300


4. Renée Zellweger – Bridget Jones

Renee Zellweger is famous for ballooning up in weight to play Bridget Jones, but also for losing it again afterwards. Her weight gain is achieved largely through eating a few portions of carbs and trans fats per day in the form of donuts! She is quoted as saying that it feels like heaven for a few days, and then as your body reacts to the junk you’re eating it’s not a great place to be. As a result there is a rumour she may be wearing a fat suit for some of the scenes in Bridget Jones’s diary 3.

renee zellwegger thin, and fat in Bridget Jones

5. Robert De Niro – Raging Bull

Robert De Niro used to be in great shape in some of his early movies, and none perhaps more so than when he was playing the role of boxer Jake La Motta in Raging Bull. De Niro was a fighting fit, and lean 150lbs for the majority of the film. However, at the end of the movie he put on a huge amount of weight, going up to approximately 210lbs!

Robert de niro raging bull thin fat

6. Daniel Craig – James Bond

Daniel Craig is another actor who has always been in good shape. A lot of people noticed that he was very lean in films like Layer Cake and Tomb Raider, albeit he was lacking some muscle. However this all changed when he took on the modern day role of 007 (James Bond) in the hit film Casino Royale. Daniel Craig looked in awesome shape in this film, and I remember when it was released that all the women were talking about the scene where he emerges from the sea (see photo below).

daniel craig skinny, and then muscle bound as 007

7. Will Smith – Ali

Will Smith is now recognised as a big guy, playing roles such as Mike Lowrey in Bad Boys 2, Robert Neville in I am Legend, Del Spooner in I Robot, and Hancock. However this wasn’t always the case. I grew up with Will Smith as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and although he was tall, he was always very skinny and lanky! This all changed however when he took on the role of Muhammad Ali, and he went from 185lbs to 220lbs. Will has since trimmed down, but says that he has maintained 90% of the weight he gained but is now much leaner.

will smith ali weight gain

8. Christian Bale – The Machinist / Batman

I worry about Christian Bale. He is constantly gaining and losing weight to real extremes for his roles, but the 2 I think most people think of are The Machinist, and Batman.  Possibly because they were filmed right after each other! In the Machinist, Bale loses a horrific amount of weight as you can see below, where he drops from 173lbs down to 110lbs! This 63lb loss is a record for a film, and Bale apparently wanted to go all the way down to 100lbs but it was considered far to dangerous (he ate just one can of tuna and an apple per day!). He then turned up for a meeting with Director Chris Nolan to discuss the schedule for Batman, only for Nolan to almost have a heart attack when he saw his leading man looking like he had been living on a desert island for the last year. Bale promised however that he would regain the weight in time for filming, which he also did in record time. Unfortunately, he also gained a bit too much fat, which lead to cleverly thought out nick names such as “fat man”. Filming was postponed for a further 3 months while he cut back.

christian bale machinist batman

9. Russell Crowe – Body of lies

Russell Crowe has played some action films where he has been very buff; Gladiator is perhaps the first of which comes to mind. I also note that he didn’t really change his weight much for other roles, i.e. if you watch A Beautiful Mind, he must be playing the mathematician with the biggest biceps ever. However in Body of Lies, he plays Ed Hoffman, a CIA agent who is largely overweight and required Crowe to put on a staggering 63lbs.

russell crowe thin, fat in body of lies

10. Linda Hamilton – Terminator 2

Linda Hamilton was always thin and in shape, but for Terminator 2 her body was transformed as she became the mother of Freedom Fighter John Connor in Terminator 2. Linda had extensive training for the movie, including combat and weapons training so she really looked the part and knew what she was doing. One of the first scenes of the movie shows Linda doing pullups on an overturned bed in a mental hospital, which was always impressive. However, the scene most people remember is in Mexico where she’s gearing up to take down Miles Dyson (see image below).

linda hamilton before, and after as sarah connor in t2

11. Sylvester Stallone – Rocky 3/4/6, Rambo, Copland, The Expendables

Sylvester Stallone is well known for his physique, and is one of the big action stars of the 1980′s. He was always big, and you can see this if you look at his physique in films like Rocky and Rocky 2. However, apparently he heard somebody say that he looked fat and it completely changed his attitude towards how he looked and his training. In Rocky 3, his physique was completely different (see first image below). It was much more trimmed down, and extremely lean. This was also seen in the Rambo films (see second image). As he got older, he played a role of a much larger character in Copland and gained 40lbs of fat (see third image below). Now in his 60′s, he is still surprising audiences. Initially it was with his comeback in Rocky 6, but more recently his physique in the Expendables is just insane (see fourth image).

stallone montage

12. Tom Hardy – Bronson / Warrior / Batman

I first saw Tom Hardy in Star Trek Nemesis, where he played in effect a young version of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (see first image below). This was back in 2002 when he would have been quite young, and was a very slender build. It was a bit of shock when I realised much later that this was the same actor playing Charles Bronson (see second image), albeit 6 years later. But Hardy had put on a lot of weight and muscle in that time. In 2011 he starred in a film called Warrior, and looked in terrific shape (see third image below), and this year 2012 he is going to be playing the muscle bound, steroid induced villain Bane in the next Batman film. Quite a change.

tom hardy montage

13. Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby

Hilary Swank has played a few athletic based roles in her time; don’t forget that she was the “Next Karate Kid” after Daniel! However, she really bulked up with some serious muscle for her role as Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby. Below you can see her flexing her impressive biceps on a chat show.

hilary swank muscles

14. Jared Leto – Chapter 27

Heart throb Jared Leto has recently packed on between 60-70lbs for his rold in the movie Chapter 27. He is barely recognisable as the same character! I just hope he has a good strategy for losing it again filming, or he may not be quite such a hit with the ladies.

jared leto thin, and fat for Chapter 27

15. Natalie Portman – Black Swan

As a vegetarian/vegan, Natalie Portman always has a lovely figure and shape. However she underwent some extreme weight loss for her role as Nina Sayers in the film Black Swan. Anyone who’s seen this film will agree that she is painfully thin in this film!

natalie portman black swan

16. Taylor Lautner – Twilight Saga

So we got to number 16 of 20, and you thought we’d forgotten about Taylor Lautner, didn’t you!? Well nope. With the popularity of Twilight it’s pretty hard to ignore the success Taylor has had with transforming his body to look like that of werewolf (if you know what I mean?). Taylor went from being a pretty skinny, but normal looking teenager to looking really huge. The fact his body fat has remained so low also makes him look really athletic. Despite being in his teens in the picture below, most men wouldn’t mind looking like this!

taylor lautner thin, and big after weight gain

17. Matt Damon – The Informant

Matt Damon is another actor that seems to regularly change his physique depending on the role; whether it’s a weedy character that needs to be skinny, or a beefier character such as Jason Bourne or rugby player Francois Pienaar. In the film The Informant, Jason had to put on 30lbs to player whistle blower Mark Whitacre. Below is a particularly unflattering shot of him pool side, but it shows just how much weight he put on.

matt damon thin, and fat as the informant

18. Dwayne Johnson – Fast Five

Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock is known for being a big guy. He is a former NFL player, and he was a WWE wrestler. There are no skinny guys allowed here. However, in fifth instalment of the Fast and the Furious movies (Fast 5), Dwayne looks enormous. He makes Vin Diesel look small, and he is a big guy. It turns out Dwayne really tried to bulk up for this movie gaining 30lbs of size, putting him over 240lbs! He looks like one scary dude…

dwayne johnson skinny, and massive in fast five

19. Chris Hemsworth – Thor

To play the role of Thor, Chris Hemsworth made some huge transformations to his body, by eating and lifting like a Demi God! Apparently everyone was very surprised but impressed by how well he did, however he almost did a little too well, as there were whispers he started to get a bit too big for his costume!

chris hemsworth skinny, and as thor

20. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Conan

Okay so a few of you might think that this is a strange one. Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most famous body builders of all time. However, what many people don’t know is that he did slim down considerably for his role as Conan the Barbarian. Arnold trimmed down fairly significantly so that he looked strong but also athletic. Hauling around that much mass while weilding a sword, punching, kicking and jumping around may have otherwise looked a bit odd!  As you can see from the picture though, he looked tremendous.

schwarzenegger bodybuilder peak, and in conan