Unwilling to let a little indigestion stand between him and that long-sought Oscar, Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly chowed down on raw bison meat on the set of his latest movie, The Revenant. He isn't the only dutiful diner in Hollywood; to bulk up or slim down to their characters' size, talented actors and actresses have committed to merciless diets. These nine recent culinary abominations surely rival DiCaprio's 19th-century dining experience:
Not even by demanding Hollywood standards would the petite Anne Hathaway need to shed a pound. The standards of impoverished, French Revolution-era prostitutes, however, are another story. In order to achieve the emaciated look of homeless Fantine for the film adaptation of Les Miserables, Hathaway turned to daily rations -- or, even less appealingly, “squares” -- of oatmeal paste. “I had to be obsessive about it,” she told Vogue. “The idea was to look near death.” Living solely on a substance most commonly used for hair removal will do that to you.
Dwayne Johnson, Hercules
To beef up for Brett Ratner’s Hercules -- because he wasn't beefy enough? -- The Rock gorged on gargantuan meals that would slay mere mortals. Revealed in a tweet, the actor-turned-wrestler endured a daily menu of 18oz of steak, 16oz each of chicken and halibut, 14 egg whites (10 at a time, with veggies scrambled in, during dinner), five-and-a-half cups of white rice, two cups each of asparagus and broccoli, two large baked potatoes, 30g of casein protein, and 5oz of oatmeal or Cream of Wheat. Johnson shared his despair with his Twitter followers: “As a kid I mixed Frosted Flakes & Golden Grahams every AM. Steak, eggs whites & Cream of Wheat just ain’t the same. [sic]”
Sylvester Stallone, Cop Land
The one saving grace of Johnson’s excessive intake: he limited himself to fairly healthy foods. The same cannot be said of Sylvester Stallone and the nutritional travesties endured for his 1997 thriller, Cop Land. Stallone's marathon breakfasts, as detailed in Chris Holmlund’s book The Ultimate Stallone Reader, included “five pancakes smothered with peanut butter and whipped cream, a bowl of oatmeal, two bagels with more peanut butter, ten fried eggs, French fries and cheesecake.” At the time, the actor didn't mind the hearty brunches. But his efforts to lose the weight again following production were tumultuous. As he told journalist Jimmy Carter, “[It] was just pain. I would eat one protein meal in the morning. I’d have a cup of oatmeal, and... three or four or five soft-boiled eggs without the yolks, and then two of these protein shakes that are maybe 225 calories, during the day.” With a grimace, Stallone added, “It’s gnarly, no doubt about it.”
To prepare for her role as the Diana Ross-ish Deena Jones, the pop icon lived off the now-infamous liquid concoction of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. “I did a fast -- a Master Cleanser for 14 days,” Beyonce revealed during an episode of Oprah. Developed by author Stanley Burroughs, the recipe has turned stomachs since the 1940s, and assisted actresses in earning Golden Globe nominations for nearly as long.
Ryan Gosling adopted a very different type of liquid diet, and to a much less successful end, after being cast in The Lovely Bones. To prepare for Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the popular novel, Gosling chugged full cartons of microwaved ice cream, hoping to accrue the physique of your typical suburban schlub. “I really believed he should be 210 pounds,” the actor told The Hollywood Reporter. "I was melting Häagen Dazs and drinking it when I was thirsty." The diet, it turns out, is precisely what lost Gosling the gig. Displeased with how much the actor had let himself go, Jackson traded Gosling in for a tight-waisted Mark Wahlberg. Gosling later said he was "fat and unemployed.”
Jared Leto, Chapter 27
Though troughs of liquefied ice cream are enough to turn your stomach, Jared Leto gave the approach an extra-nauseating kick to transform himself into Mark David Chapman, John Lennon's killer, for the film Chapter 27. As Leto told Starpulse, “My little trick was, I would take pints of chocolate Häagen Dazs and put them in the microwave and drink them. The sick thing is, I would actually pour olive oil and soy sauce into the mixture as well -- to get me bloated even more.” Acting.
Liam Neeson, The Grey
Long before DiCaprio devoured raw bison, Liam Neeson wolfed down on actual wolf for The Grey. Director Joe Carnahan treated his stars to canine dinners, and many walked away from the meals feeling unwell. “This guy had one [wolf] in his freezer for six months which probably didn’t help the taste,” the director explained to ContactMusic. “The permafrost didn’t help the layer underneath. Maybe we just had bad wolf, I don’t know.” But not even “bad wolf” can take down the invincible Neeson. “I’m Irish, so I’m used to odd stews. I can take it. Just throw a lot of carrots and onions in there and I’ll call it dinner,” he professed to The Guardian. This nonchalance aside, even Neeson had to admit, “It was very gamey.”
Michael Fassbender, Hunger
Even your one uncle with an inscrutable taste for sardines would draw the line at Michael Fassbender’s Hunger diet. Living up to the title of the picture, Fassbender prepped for the role by eating, per The TimesMagazine’s description, “endless cans” of the odorous fish, supplemented with nuts and berries. The regimen did just as hard a number on Fassbender’s psyche as it did on his gut. “I thought they would be good for me; they have calcium,” he said of the sardines, not expecting to lose sleep and sanity over his devotion to the rank banquet. “I was kind of monk-like. It was like the 40 days and 40 nights alone in the desert,” he told The Times. “If you have friends around they will say, ‘Let's eat this packet of crisps while we watch this movie.’ It weakens you. I thought, ‘I will stay on my path.’”
The strangest diet of the lot belongs to Twilight veteran Robert Pattinson, who committed to a gastronomic hurdle that distances the teen heartthrob from his contemporaries. While keeping in character during production of the post-apocalyptic film The Rover, set and filmed in the Australian Outback, Pattinson limited himself to the most flavorless breed of sandwich imaginable. The actor told Time Out, “I literally ate [white] bread and barbecue sauce for six weeks, every single day.” However, it wasn’t so much the lack of variety in food that bugged Pattinson, but in drink. As he lamented to the magazine, the surrounding area only boasted “one pub.”
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Michael Arbeiter survives on a diet of bananas and carrots. Find him on Twitter: @MichaelArbeiter.