A Weighty Commitment

December 19, 2011

You’re certain you want to make it as an actor. You’ve known it since you can remember, and nothing’s going to get in your way. But, have you given thought to everything it will take to achieve immortality? Have you thought about the many sacrifices in store for you as an actor and budding legend? Robert Di Nero gained 60 pounds to play the volatile pugilist Jake LaMotta in Scorsese’s epic Raging Bull. And before he gained the weight, Robert absolutely shredded his physique by training constantly with the real-life brawler who inspired the film. He even went so far as to compete in three organized bouts, winning two. Now, you may not be asked to put your life and health on the line for an acting role, but make no mistake, the craft of acting is all about commitment. Take, for example Charlize Theron’s performance in the celebrated and controversial film, Monster. Before that film, much of her cache was in her beauty and smoldering sexuality. It was a real risk for Charlize to gain 30 pounds and be seen as an ugly, even hideous person. Taking that weight off and getting back into svelte, puma form was not easy, I’m sure. Was it worth it? Well, she won the Oscar for best actress and cemented her place in Hollywood as a serious actress. Oh, and did I mention Di Nero won best actor for his role in Raging Bull which was voted best film of the decade.

It is nothing less than frightening watching a skin-and-bones Christian Bale operating a table saw in the Hitchcockian thriller, The Machinist. Just the idea of someone that frail and weak operating heavy machinery is enough to make you formally place your hands over your eyes. He lost a staggering 63 pounds for the role that made him a legend in some circles. Now, am I saying you should go out and start starving yourself or pounding Krispi Kremes for your next movie role? Generally speaking, doing anything unhealthy for your body is a no-no for any actor. But, you have to be prepared to do what it takes to deliver a legendary performance if you want to be seen up there on Mount Olympus with the big boys. Or big girls in Charlize’s case.