Getting into shape for a top Hollywood movie role must be quite a challenge, especially if you’re set to play a superhero or portray a famous fighter.
The challenge can be made easier of course, when there’s a multi-million dollar purse being mentioned and the support of a personal trainer.
Let us have a look at which of the big stars took on a tough, focused routine and brought out the big guns (and probably the protein powder) to bulk up for Hollywood. We can also see how the respective movies did at the box office.
Brad Pitt — Fight Club
Brad Pitt’s physique in Fight Club was so impressive that it is often cited as the benchmark for the shredded, muscular look. Brad used an intense workout that concentrated on one muscle group per day and worked it very hard — so chest on Monday, legs on Tuesday…
Add a bit of cardio work at weekends to burn off any excess calories and Brad’s routine is a winner as it allows for long rest periods for each muscle group to grow. An alternative film with a cult following, Fight Club managed to collect $100m at the box office.
Angelina Jolie — Tomb Raider
The Lara Croft role made famous by the Tomb Raider computer game is an all action, somersaulting, death-defying warrior — she’s beautiful too (even as the computer generated version). Only one woman could play Lara, but it took a demanding regime to get her into shape.
Angelina’s team woke her up at 7am each morning and she was handed her a protein shake by her personal nutritionist, who also ensured she was fed five meals a day. With her energy levels and protein intake controlled, Angie was put through a tough routine to build muscle mass. Alongside all kinds of interesting training from martial arts to bungee work. She even did many of her own stunts. The movie grossed a total of $274m and remains the most successful video game adaptation movie.
Christian Bale — Batman
Christian Bale is renowned for the quite staggering changes he brings about to his physical body. After completing a movie role where he played a 120lb stick-thin, insomniac in The Machinist, Bale had only 6 months to bulk up for Batman Begins.
He began a high protein diet and started plyometrics and heavy core and resistance training. He managed to gain 100lbs and the movie grossed $372m — the sequels took over $1billion each.
Gerard Butler — 300
The stunning aesthetics of this movie went a long way to making the Spartans look super-ripped, but the actors also put in some serious shifts — none more so than Gerard Butler as King Leonidas.
Training with a top conditioning coach, Gerard was put through hell for four months with a agonizing workout. The daily routine included relentless sets of recognised exercises like pull-ups and deadlifts mixed with more unusual, but effective tasks such as flipping over massive tyres. The movie grossed $70m just on it’s opening weekend in the US — breaking box office records at the time.
Sylvester Stallone — Rocky
Sly Stallone has made some great action movies over the years, but it was Rocky that turned him into a Hollywood star at the age of 30. Over the years Sly became known for his extreme workouts and in hindsight he admits his methods weren’t perhaps the best as his body was in a state of constant breakdown.
When training for Rocky III, he would begin the day with a two-mile jog, followed by 18 rounds of sparring, two hours of weightlifting and skipping. After an afternoon nap he would go running again and then finish off with some swimming. Overtraining or not — his physique has always been impressive.
Robert De Niro — Raging Bull
Perhaps one of the most dedicated method actors ever, Robert De Niro underwent intense boxing training to portray the aggressive boxer, Jake LaMotta in Scorsese-directed Raging Bull.
Training with the real LaMotta, De Niro was so dedicated to becoming an accomplished boxer that he competed in three organized bouts and was actually good enough to turn professional. The movie is regarded as one of the best ever made and De Niro won an oscar.