For the past 15 years or so, it seems like there has been a surge of Hollywood actors and actresses who will go at great lengths to portray a character as truthfully and realistically as possible; sometimes this means putting on or taking off lots of weight. This is part of the “method.”
We all remember the striking image of Christian Bale in the Machinist, where he dropped 65 lbs to play insomniac Trevor Reznik. How did he do it? By eating an apple and can of tuna a day. He would then go on to gain about 80 lbs to play Batman in Batman Begins.
Or look at Renee Zellweger, who famously gained 30 lbs (twice!) to play Bridget Jones, and lost weight to play Roxie Hart in Chicago in between.
Extreme body transformations in Hollywood are met with loads of praise as well as criticisms. While some admire an actor’s authenticity and dedication for a role, others argue that the dangers far outweigh the art, and the practice continues to perpetuate unrealistic body standards and promote unhealthy ways of losing/gaining weight.
But where does the actor’s responsibility lie? Should it matter to the rest of us whether or not Christian Bale goes to drastic measures to lose weight?
Method actors have the reputation of going to great lengths to portray a role convincingly, sometimes at the risk of their own health. Is it too much?
Personally, as an actor, I think it’s our job as artists to perform as honestly as possible, but it’s ultimately up to us how far we want to go. Almost in the same vein as the good people of Jackass who put a disclaimer on before every show, “Don’t try this at home.” They still do crazy things, they just tell other people the dangers.
What do you think? Is it too much?