The characters actors play can go through some pretty intense stuff at the movies, but as real as it can seem onscreen, we know it’s all pretend — and we assume none of those stunts have permanently damaged the actors’ bodies after the cameras roll. After all, when it comes to starring in a major Hollywood film, there are a lot of tricks of the trade that can transform an ordinary actor into something amazing. They don’t call it “movie magic” for nothing. But while many performers are willing to transform themselves for roles, from gaining and losing weight, to prosthetics, and more, some actors have taken it to the extreme. Ah, but it’s for the art! Right? Well, sure, but art can only take you so far, especially when your life and health is on the line.

While there are Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes, for outstanding acting work, there aren’t any awards we can give out for “most pain endured in the performance of a role.” But if there were, these actors — who all permanently hurt their bodies in the name of acting — would win.

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Jared Leto in Chapter 27

Jared Leto is another Method actor who doesn’t hold back when it comes to transforming his body. He’s lost weight for films such as Requiem for a Dream and Dallas Buyers Club, but it was gaining weight for the 2007 indie Chapter 27 that really did a number on the actor.

Playing Mark Chapman, the man who shot and killed John Lennon, Leto admitted he gained so much weight so abruptly that he suffered gout. He told the L.A. Times, “The script didn’t say, ‘Page 1: You gain 67 pounds, and you’re miserable for two months.’ But as I started to research, I realized that the physical representation of this guy had so much to do with who he was.”

He said the weight gain hurt his body so much, towards the end he couldn’t even walk. “I had a definite problem with my feet,” he said. “Towards the end of the shoot, one of the glaring issues was the pain I had with my feet. I couldn’t walk for long distances. I had a wheelchair because it was so painful. My body was in shock from the amount of weight I gained. It took about a year to get back to a place that felt semi-normal. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back to the place I was physically.”

Well, at least dying his hair green and donning metal teeth to play the Joker in Suicide Squad left no indelible marks.

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Tom Hanks in Philadelphia and Cast Away

The affable Tom Hanks isn’t necessarily known to be one of those actors who loses himself in roles, but he has gone to a few extremes here and there—and has won an Oscar for his efforts. Both in the 1993 Philadelphia, in which he plays a lawyer diagnosed with AIDS, and the 2000 Cast Away, in which he’s stranded on a desert island for four years, Hanks lost a lot of weight.

The 60-year-old thinks losing and gaining the weight back, along with possibly being “genetically inclined,” may have been contributing factors to being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. At the 2013 London Film Festival (via The Daily Mail), the actor said he probably won’t be taking on any more roles which require him to drastically change his size. “The gaining and the losing of weight may have had something to do with it because you eat so much bad food and you don’t take any exercise when you’re heavy. I’ve talked to a number of actors who have gained weight for roles and just out of the sheer physical toll on one’s knees and shoulders, no one wants to do it again. I think that’s more or less a young man’s game.”

Thankfully, Hanks is definitely looking trim and healthy these days.

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George Clooney in Syriana

George Clooney has his own horror story about suffering for his art, which didn’t involve gaining or losing weight. While filming a torture scene for the 2005 Syriana, he cracked his head open during a stunt and severely injured his spine.

He told Rolling Stone at the time that the injury was so bad, he considered taking his own life. “I was at a point where I thought, ‘I can’t exist like this. I can’t actually live.’ I was lying in a hospital bed with an IV in my arm, unable to move, having these headaches where it feels like you’re having a stroke, and for a short three-week period, I started to think, ‘I may have to do something drastic about this.'”

Doctors couldn’t quite pinpoint where the injury was at first but finally noticed fluid leaking from Clooney’s spine, and realized that the condition was more serious than anyone had thought. The actor revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he was forced to take strong pain medication as part of a long process. “They’ll hand you a giant tub of Vicodin, which is not a good drug for me; I had a lot of stomach pain and I really didn’t like the high it gave me. Then there were other drugs. I was on morphine for awhile, which created this horrible anxiety where I really thought I was in trouble.”

He finally turned to therapy, explaining, “I went to a pain-management guy whose idea was, ‘You can’t mourn for how you used to feel, because you’re never going to feel that way again.’ I’ve gone from where I can’t function… to, ‘I’ve got a bad headache’… My ears will literally pop and my head goes apes***. But I’m scrappy.”

At least he got a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his pain.

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Jackie Chan in…basically all of his movies


Jackie Chan has never held back—he views any injury he sustains while filming a stunt as just part of the gig. It’s the one reasons Chan is considered a true legend in the martial arts genre. He has broken fingers, noses, ankles, tailbones, even his hip; he’s dislocated his shoulders more than few times (very painful); he’s suffered multiple concussions and spinal injuries. The injury list is as long as his resume.

However, there’s one particularly serious injury that made a lasting impression on his banged-up body. Chan once told Parade, “The most serious injury I had was during the shooting of Armour of God II. It was actually just a simple stunt, jumping from a slope. But I was seriously injured and had a surgery to my brain. I still have a metal plate in my head and can feel the indentation from the impact.” Yikes.

Now in his 60s, Chan shows no signs of taking a break — he released two action films in 2017 (Bleeding Steel and The Foreigner), and followed those by filming the fantasy actioner Journey to China: The Mystery of Iron Mask. Bring on the pain!

(Excerpt) Read More at: Looper.com

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Movies That Permanently Damaged Actors’ Bodies