21 Actor Transformations – From Skinny to Muscular

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In certain movies, the actors seem to fit in so perfectly and we have little doubt in our minds about them being the characters in the role they are playing.

When it comes to playing the superhero or the warrior or a warring god, many actors have had to undergo serious training to bulk up and pack on some weight. Some were so good at it that in our minds, we had no doubt of their authenticity as a god, bad-ass mutant, or warrior. Following are 21 remarkable actor transformations into muscular characters.

Eli Roth in Inglourious Basterds

Eli Roth in Inglourious Basterds muscles

Eli Raphael Roth was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1972. His most popular role to date is Sgt. Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino’s film Inglourious Basterds.

In the movie, his weapon of choice was a wooden baseball bat, signed by members of his Jewish community. And he was a nightmare for the Nazis, thanks to that vicious look in his eyes. To get into the role though, he had to gain 40 pounds by lifting weights and eating more. Normally just an average guy, his weight gain included tight chest muscles and biceps. Seeing him in the movie, especially when swinging his bat, will convince you of the hard work he put in to get into shape.

Jason Statham in The Transporter​

Jason Statham is an English actor well known for his bad-ass roles in movies like The Italian Job, The Transporter, and The Expendables. He was born on the 26 of July, 1967 in England. Before he rose to international fame in the movie The Transporter, Jason Statham was more of a skinny conman type of bad-ass. But in 2002, when he was cast as the extremely dangerous Chauffeur for hire, he knew he had to bulk-up.

Statham took his own training into his own hands and built a marvellous physique for himself. In the movie, he portrayed a rather mute, but quick to action driver for hire, who would transport everybody and everything from bank-robbers to bags that he had no idea what was inside.

When it came to fighting, he also readily showed his skills in martial arts. His fighting style, mixed with his very lean but muscular build, make him a very unique and unforgettable sight, once you have seen him in action.

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Nicolas Cage in ConAir​

Nicolas Kim Coppola, better known as Nicolas Cage, is an American actor born in January of 1964. he has starred in so many movies and is one the greatest actors of all times. Some of his later movies include Ghost Rider (2007), Knowing (2009) and Kick-ass(2010). Since most of his career, he usually has a slender, clean build in his roles, but for the 1997 movie Con Air, where he had to play an ex-con and former U.S. Ranger, Nicolas Cage had to do some serious training.

To really fit the role, he not only lifted weights, but also grew long hair. He was so dedicated to his physical transformation that he even continued to lift weights on set, off camera. In the movie, he had to share a prisoner transport airplane with very dangerous criminals that ended up taking over the plane. He then had to pretend to play along with their escape plan while trying to find a way to stop them. Seeing him in that movie, he looked so rugged, so muscular, unlike his usual character.

Edward Norton in American History X

Edward Norton is an American actor, filmmaker and activist. He was born on 18 August, 1969. He is known for such movies as Primal Fear (1996), Birdman (2014), American History X(1998) and Red Dragon (2002). In most of his movies, as in real life, he is usually slender. Not much body weight, just a very average looking guy. But, in order to star in the 1998 crime drama American History X, as Derek Vinyard, Edward Norton had to undergo serious training to get that gangster look.

He created a rather quite fearful image by going on a high protein diet, doing squats and presses and cultivating that sly grin on his face. This character was a shock for many people who have known him in his previous movies, because the transformation was almost radical. In the movie, he plays a neo-nazi gangster who later comes to the realization of the possibility of the attainment of higher goals for any society and not just violence and hatred based on physical attributes and skin colour just like he had learned from his father.

Christian Bale in Batman Begins

Christian Charles Philip Bale is an English actor. Born on 30 January 1974, he first caught the public eye when he was 13 years old and in the starring role of Empire of the Sun from Steven Spielberg. In 2004, to play the role of Trevor Reznik in “The Machinist”, Bale went on a four month diet of coffee and a can of tuna or apple a day, and reached 121 pounds. But immediately after filming the movie, he had to add 60 pounds for the Batman Screen test. He ate a high-carb diet of pasta and bread. He then got into weight training over the next three months with a high protein diet for muscle building, and daily three hour training sessions. At the end, he was up to 220 pounds in weight.

In Batman begins, Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne (Batman) who is a billionaire son of Thomas and Martha Wayne, his parents and founder of Wayne Enterprises. They were murdered when he was young and he grew up to become the vigilante known as Batman in Gotham city. Hardly anybody who has seen Batman Begins will believe that the same person also starred in The Machinist. In one movie, he is a skinny and very disturbed person, in the second movie, just a few months later, he is a very muscular, well trained and fit superhero.

Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises​

Edward Thomas “Tom” Hardy is an English actor, born on September 15, 1977. He is known for movies such as Star Trek :Nemesis, RocknRolla and The Drop. He made his debut in Black Hawk Down (2001). In the 2012 movie The Dark Knight rises, Tom Hardy had to play the role of Bane, a really bulked-up fellow. Being normally a flabby human being of about 160 pounds, Tom Hardy added about 40 pounds of weight, mostly muscle, so he could fit the role.

In the movie, Bane is a very muscular and potent fighter. He defeated Batman in Battle and is the field commander of the league of shadows. During filming of the movie, Hardy once passed out under the heat of the sun and he remained unconscious for the rest of the day. That, being the result of the excessive and rapid weight gain.

Chris Evans in Captain America

Chris Evans, best known as the Super-hero Captain America, is an American born actor. He was born on the 13 of June, 1981 and started his career on Opposite Sex (2000), a TV series. In order to play the superhero, he had to add about 30 pounds of weight, which took months of hard work. His body fat percentage was not very low in the end, but he really bulked up.

He went on a high protein diet, and ate yogurt, raisins and banana. He increased his cardio and did sprints. He was reported to have puked at times in the gym. It was a tough affair for him, a brutal affair, actually. He later gained the perfect stature anyway, and became worthy of the name “Captain America”. In the movie, the Captain America that Evans played, helped to save the world from the evil Nazis. And it is worthwhile noting that the skinny version of him in the movie was a result of special effects, and not the real him.

Mark Wahlberg in Pain & Gain​

Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg, popularly known as Mark Wahlberg, is an American actor, producer, businessman and former rapper. In his earlier years, he was known as Marky Mark, of the band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. He is best known for the movies Transformers: Age of Extinction, Lone Survivor and The Perfect Storm. He is a gentle and average looking guy, but for the 2013 movie Pain and Gain, he added about 40 pounds of muscle.

To gain this amount of weight in such a short period, he ate 12 times a day. He would work out, drink a protein shake. Have a chicken burger, sleep, work-out. If you knew him previously or saw his older pictures, you will then understand the extent of his transformation for this role in Pain & Gain, he really bulked up, big time. In the movie, Wahlberg plays the role of Daniel Lugo, a Miami bodybuilder, who with his bodybuilder friends decide to kidnap and extort money in order to get rick. And honestly, he looked very perfectly like a true bodybuilder in that movie, nice job.

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler​

Philip Andre Rourke, Jnr. is an American actor, a screenwriter, and a retired boxer. He was born on 16 September, 1952. He has been starring in movies since the 80s, like The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), Diner (1982), and the erotic drama 9 and 1/2 Weeks (1986). He has also appeared in movies like The Expendables and Iron Man 2. In 2008, he starred in the movie The Wrestler, portraying a wrestler who was passed his prime, a role for which he received a Golden Globe award, a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination.

Mickey Rourke had to gain about 27 pounds of muscle to star as the faded professional wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson, who still wrestles, although he has well passed the age of 40, but just so he could perform for his fans. He must retire, but his desire for a new life is a struggle and he must win back his daughter. His muscle buildup for the movie is quite impressive, normally weighing 189 pounds, his near 30-pound weight gain made him look like a real pro-wrestler, with bulging chest muscles, biceps and his long blond hair.

Brad Pit in Troy​

William Bradley “Brad” Pitt is an American actor born on December 18, 1963. He is known for movies such as Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Moneyball (2011), 12 years a Slave (2013) and Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Twelve. For the role of Achilles in the movie Troy, Brad Pitt had seven months to undergo training and he even continued training while on set.

His training was in two parts, the bulk-up phase and the fat-trim phase. He ended up putting on around 15 pounds of pure muscle. For an actor like Brad Pitt, who had the physique of a boy, normally, an additional 15 pounds of muscle really turned him into the true Achilles, son of Peleus and Thetis, and he fit in so well into the Greek mythological tale. Brad plays the role to perfection, and looks like a very strong but still natural character.

Bradley Cooper in American Sniper

Bradley Charles Cooper, born on January 5, 1975 is an American actor and film producer. He is known for movies such as Wedding Crashers, Yes Man, The A-Team and Limitless (2011). Bradley is a sweet looking, sleek man, but for his role as Kyle in the movie American Sniper, he underwent an unbelievable physical change.

Cooper’s 185 pounds of weight was much less than the needed 230 pounds for the Texan sniper Kyle, who he was meant to portray. He needed to add 40 pounds of weight, and he did. His trainer, Jason Walsch put him on over 5,000 calories a day, and added weight training and cardio specifically designed for him. Cooper then turned into the 230-pound monster Kyle. In the movie, kyle is a Navy S.E.A.L with an amazing pinpoint accuracy that made him into a legend. His only issues were not with war, but rather with managing his post-war life.

Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity

Ryan Reynolds was born on October 23, 1976. He is a Canadian actor. He has starred on ABC’s sitcom Two Guys and a girl and in Blade: Trinity and X-Men Origins: wolverine. Ryan Reynolds has normally been fit and in decent shape before the movie Blade: Trinity, but to look as stunning as he looked in the movie, he had to undergo over six months of intense training. He worked out sometimes up to three hours and ate eight times a day. He also had a personal trainer and dietitian, who helped him achieve his goal of such a fabulous physique, with his low body fat percentage and perfectly ripped abdomen.

In the movie, he plays Hannibal king, a private detective who was bitten by the vampire Deacon Frost. After waking up and finding himself as one of the undead, he vowed never to bite a human being, and thereby not pass on the curse of the undead. Therefore he fed on corpses and animals. He later received a portion from Blade to help him stop the need to feed on blood.

Jamie Foxx in Any Given Sunday​

Jamie Foxx Muscle Man

Eric Marlon Bishop, popularly known as Jamie Foxx, in an American actor, comedian and singer. He was born on December 13, 1967, and won the Golden Globe Award for his role as Ray Charles in the movie “Ray”. For the movie Any Given Sunday, Jamie Foxx took his business seriously and did some intensive training, hitting the metal heavily. He got bulked-up in the process to about 200 pounds. He then hit the football training camp for training in football, which made him lose about 25 pounds, with what remained of his body then being mostly muscle.

In the movie, Foxx plays the role of a football player, Willie Beaman who has been benched for a very long while. He then gets his chance to play one day when the superstar quarterback Cap Rooney is knocked out by a devastating hit. His athletic performance and stunning shows create a new twist in the story. Traditionally, Foxx has been the slender type, but having gotten ripped and well trained for this role, shined a new kind of light on him.​

Gerard Butler in 300​

300 Muscles

Gerard James Butler is a Scottish actor, born on 13 November, 1969. He studied law before turning to acting. He has starred in James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies, Dracula, Tomb Raider, and many other movies. For the 2006 movie, 300, he however was out of shape. His stomach was fat, and he was just chubby all over.

He had to lose fat and gain muscles, so he started on the Mediterranean diet, with little carbs in the morning but only chicken and veggies in the evening. He also included hours of workout per day. In the end, he got quite ripped and spotted a very nice physique, although he didn’t gain much weight. He was formally 190 pounds, and gained about 10 pounds only in overall weight, mostly muscle. In the movie, he plays King Leonidas, a character based upon a real story of the King of Sparta between 520 to 480 BC.

Chris Hemsworth in Thor​

​Chris Hemsworth is a handsome Australian actor. He was born in 1983, on August 11. He was previously known for the role of Kim Hyde in the TV series Home and Away in Australia. And also known for “The Avengers” and for “Thor and Avengers: Age of Ultron”. For the movie Thor, he had to gain over 30 pounds over his last movie “Rush”, in where he acted as a cocaine-abusing race car driver.

In the movie Thor, Hemsworth plays the Norse god Thor, son of Odin. He was banished to earth by his father and left without his powers after having acted violently. Thor is known for wielding a very heavy hammer which hardly anyone else can lift. With his height, handsome features and well-trained body to perfection, Chris Hemsworth perfectly portrayed a true Norse god.

​Robert De Niro in Raging Bull

Robert De Niro is an American actor, born on 17. August, 1943. He has starred in over 90 films including playing the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather in 1974. In 1980, he played the role of Jake LaMotta in the film Raging Bull. Until this role, Robert De Niro was a rather slender young man, and Jake LaMotta was a professional middleweight boxer, so De Niro had to get fit.

His transformation is one of the most incredible actor transformations for a movie role till date. To achieve this, he had to undergo extensive physical training. He trained really hard and long, and was so fit that during the shooting of the film, he accidentally once broke Joe Pesci’s ribs, as all the punches in the movie were real. He also, even entered into three genuine boxing matches in Brooklyn, and actually won three of them.

He then gained almost 60 pounds of weight to play the older Jake LaMotta. It was a bit too much and at one point, the director, Martin Scorsese was so alarmed of his weight gain that he had to shut down production out of fear for De Niro’s health. He was reported to have gained so much weight by gorging enormous amounts of pancakes and milkshakes. So, beware.

Will Smith in Ali​

Willard Carroll “Will Smith, Jnr, was born on September 25, 1968. He is an American actor, rapper and songwriter. He has been nominated for the best actor Oscar award twice, for the movies Ali and The Pursuit of Happiness. Will Smith is a naturally average cut fellow, not much muscles, not much fat, just trim and fine. But, in order to star as Ali, it was obvious that his 180 pounds weight was not enough, he had to gain an additional 35pounds to really look like the boxing champ.

Will Smith started a daily workout routine of about 6 hours, which included running, weight and boxing training. Coupled with his previous trim shape and the proper diet, Will Smith gained enough chest muscle and general weight to look like Ali. In the movie, playing the role of Muhammed Ali, the world’s greatest boxer, Will Smith perfectly portrayed the athletic genius of Ali, his rage and his grace.

Hugh Jackman in X-Men Origins: Wolverine​

Hugh Jackman is an Australian actor, singer and also a movie producer. He is best known for his role as the bad-ass mutant Wolverine in the X-Men series. He has also starred in “Les Miserables” and in Prisoners (2013). As Wolverine, with his iconic sideburns, well trained muscular body and his claws, Hugh Jackman has set an image that is truly unique and fondly remembered by many. But he wasn’t always this well trained and muscular.

In the first X-Men movie, Wolverine was not really muscular. Sure, he had a little training but it was not much and Jackman was then 31, but by the age of 44, Hugh Jackman had transformed into the perfect beast. His body was unbelievable in the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. This is thanks to his training work with David Kingsbury, an ex-martial artist and now trainer. Jackman increased his strength training, while adding training to cut the fat. This gave him a phenomenal physique with very low fat and very well defined muscles, the perfect Beast.

Henry Cavill in Man Of Steel

Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill is an English actor, born on May 5, 1983. He began his career in the 2002 movie “The Count of Monte Cristo”. He gained international fame in 2013 by playing the superhero Superman in the movie “Man of Steel”. He added almost 20 pounds of weight to get into shape, expanding his chest and biceps.

His trainer, Twight, made him sleep at least 9-10 hours a day during his months of training. He was also put on a strict diet, including vitamin pills, magnesium supplements and Probiotics. After he had gained 20 pounds, his carb intake was drastically reduced, with his calorie count cut by half. On average, his body fat percentage was around 6% in the movie, lovely job.

Daniel Craig for James Bond​

​Daniel Wroughton Craig is an English actor. He was born on March 2, 1968. He is known internationally as the sixth actor to play the James Bond role in Ian Fleming’s series, taking over from Pierce Brosnan. He is the most muscular James Bond till date and his transformation was also quite an interesting one.

Simon Waterson is a former British Royal Marine, who now trains Celebrities. He got to work on Daniels Craig, making him workout five days a week, with a strict diet and supplements which turned the actor into a perfect 007 after just a few months. With the new look, he has gone on to star as 007 in Casino Royal (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).

​Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson in Game of thrones

"Thor" Björnsson is an Icelandic actor and professional Strongman competitor. He was born on 26 of November, 1988 and is a very tall guy. At a height of 6ft 9 in, he played basketball for a while but is currently a competitor in the World’s Strongest Man competition. He was cast in Season 4 of Game of thrones as Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, brother of Sandor “The hound” Clegane. It was his first major acting role and he was the third person to be cast in this particular role.

Having won the title of Europe’s Strongest Man twice, Björnsson was a mere 230 pounds heavy when he started his career as a Strongman, but today, he weighs about 400 pounds, an addition of about 170 pounds. He ate six to eight times a day, including sweet potatoes, chicken, fish and cocoa butter and also greens like avocado, spinach and broccoli. Björnsson is a behemoth of a man, with a low body fat percentage and extremely huge muscles. If he should be cast for another movie role, then it better be to play a god, like Thor, or something like that because that is exactly what he looks like