T Nation

Celebrity Movie Transformations


How do these actors/actresses get into incredible shape in just a few months for their movies?

I know they bust their ass. That’s not what I’m asking.

But they seem to put on so much muscle (or maybe just the illusion of that) in a matter of a few months sometimes? I know sometimes the turnaround on these movies is 3-6 months for them to get into shape. So it’s amazing to see how they can change their body that quickly.

I’m just really curious more than anything else.

I know they have personal trainers, food already cooked for them and they can just focus on working out and the script. But still it seems crazy to me.


If you were told you would be paid several million dollars if you looked like Wolverine in 6 months, how hard would you work compared to right now?

Or, how about you will LOSE a several million dollar contract if you fail?


Lol oh no doubt man. But I know they work hard and bust their ass like crazy.

I’m more curious in terms of how they train, when they train, how often they train. I thought you can only build so much muscle in so much time. So when I see the transformations it’s just amazing to me.


The secret’s in the toe shoes.


[quote=“isdatnutty, post:1, topic:228154”]
or maybe just the illusion of that[/quote]
Many transformations are legit, but don’t underestimate this. Getting lean enough for some abs, tricep definition, and maybe a little biceps vascularity, plus a quick pump immediately before shooting a scene, likely transfers into looking great on-screen.

Like Pwnisher said, they have gigantic motivation/incentive to succeed. And they have an expert telling them how to train. And they have experts telling them what to eat and handling meal prep. Those three things are some of the biggest stumbling blocks that prevent results in most lifters, so when they’re eliminated, crazy stuff can happens.

Jason Walsh has talked about his work with Matt Damon for a few different films and Bradley Cooper for American Sniper. Actor Joseph Gatt talked about his training here.

A few T Nation coaches also had a roundtable years ago talking about what they’d do with a Hollywood client.


Some are on drugs.

But imagine how much bigger they would all be if they did Starting Strength! Think about it. Most of these guy haven’t maxed out their newbie gains yet.


[quote=“Chris_Colucci, post:5, topic:228154, full:true”]

Thanks @Chris_Colucci . That roundtable article is great!


I actually think you are still underplaying the significance of amount of effort invested here. THAT is the driving force.

It’s not going to be a magical rep and set combination, but simply how aggressively these folks approach their training due to the motivation. It’s the same way how you will make a TON of progress once you sign up for a contest vs just training by yourself. When something is on the line, results tend to increase.

That said, there is something to be said about the effects of angles, shadows, prepping (getting a pump, being dehydrated, etc) and, of course, CGI. The illusion is just as powerful as the results.


Shit man, I guess I need to step my game up!

But I think you are absolutely right. I got my wedding in exactly 12.5 weeks and I’ve been busting my ass more than I was weeks prior. Initially I thought I would be “overtraining” doing sprints in the morning and then lifting a few hours later. The exact opposite has happened that every lift is going up and my body is rapidly changing lol.

Now if I could only have the motivation for a few million!


I’m gonna add that some people, like Christian Bale, are crazy. You get better results when you are crazy.


I was just about to bring up Bale. Obviously this is the opposite of what people were bringing up, but has anyone ever seen his role in “The Machinist”? The man ate like one apple and one can of tuna a day for like two straight months, and ended up weighing like 115lbs or something.

I think this points to the dedication they have to A. their craft and being immersed in their role, and B. yes the incentive of millions of dollars, where its to get jacked and ripped like Wolverine or look like Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club.

Also, as stated above, if you had the resources to hire the best trainer, nutritionist, and personal chef and had millions of dollars on the line as cause to follow their every word and direction, it actually might not be the most difficult things to accomplish haha


Robert De Niro got real tattoos using vegetable dye as ink for Cape Fear and got a dentist to break some of his teeth for Raging Bull then gained 60lbs in 3 months eating pasta.

They’re all fucking crazy.


Also, similar to body builders approaching a contest or shoot, many times their are certain scenes they focus on. I remember reading that Hugh Jackman wanted the one shirtless scene in “The Wolverine” to be the most ripped people had ever seen, so for that shoot that day, he was dried out and depleted, similar to being stage ready, just for that scene. He said it was extremely hard and he was dizzy and out of breath etc, but for the rest of the shoot he was pretty comfortable!


One of the best performances of all time, Raging Bull. They wanted to use a fat suit to age him and he said “nah ill literally age my self to age 40 years”


that roundtable article is probably my favourite of all time here on T-Nation.

But yeah, like others have said:

-multi-million dollar incentive
-seriously talented personal trainer taking you through 2 sessions a day
-dietitian to plan your diet
-chef to cook it all for you
-nothing to do except eat, lift, sleep, repeat.

It’d be more impressive to not make a radical transformation in that situation


Speaking of De Niro and crazy, check out @T3hPwnisher 's mythical strength blog(can’t link) and look for a post titled “EMBRACE YOUR INNER PESCI-NESS”.


Thanks for the plug dude. That is still one of the posts I had the most fun writing.


Movie magic is cool, but it still takes time.


This guy had the craziest transformation.


Some people are hell bent that celebrities are using drugs. That’s possible but I’m not sure its needed.

These guys have access to the best resources and the motivation of million$$$. I doubt they are just given a meal plan too. I bet EACH and every morcel of food is measured, cooked and put in front of them. Doesn’t taste good? NO prob, we can add some flavors to that for you princess :sweat_smile: