Actors will go far and beyond to get into character for a major film. Hollywood stars will lose weight, change their diets completely, or even cut off all their hair to really become the character they are portraying. Actors even take months at a time to perfect their character even before filming takes place. Take for example Heath Ledger who played The Joker in the film The Dark Knight and decided to lock himself in a hotel room for an entire month just to perfect the villain’s mischievous laugh. Ledger even reportedly kept a diary with outlandish writings that he considered The Joker’s personal journal. Sadly, Ledger died before the film’s release from a drug overdose.
While there are plenty of stars who will do whatever they can to get into character, there are also a number of stars who have been left traumatized from their roles. These specific roles have affected a bunch of Hollywood’s greatest actors mentally, physically, or both. Many actors have lost weight for a role, but actor Christian Bale lost such an extreme amount of weight for the film The Machinist, people were worried for his life. Thankfully, he gained all his weight back.
Horror movies can easily terrify and traumatize an actor. Actress Marilyn Burns admitted to being horrified during the dinner scene in the gruesome film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre because she didn’t see Leatherface in costume before shooting. Burns stated that she feared for her life and that he was really going to hurt her.
It’s not always rainbows and butterflies for these actors. Check out these 15 stars that have either gone way too far when committing to a role or have been left traumatized after it.
15. Christian Bale (Too Far) – Lost An Extreme Amount Of Weight
Actor Christian Bale has always played a fairly muscular and toned character in films, especially in his roles in The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and in one of his most popular roles as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. However, Bale took his role in the 2004 film The Machinist too far when he dropped a scary 60 pounds to play the lead role of a man who suffers from severe insomnia. The six-foot actor dropped to 121 pounds and practically starved himself. Christian Bale was so thin that the people around him actually feared he might be taking his own life. Sadly, the movie didn’t do so well, but thankfully, Bale had gained back all of his normal weight after filming was complete.
14. Robert De Niro (Too Far) – Had His Teeth Destroyed
Robert De Niro has been in over 100 films, but the actor took playing Max Cady in the film Cape Fear way too far. The fictional character was supposed to appear as if he had spent a number of years in prison, and to match this appearance, De Niro paid his dentist a whopping $20,000 to destroy his teeth. De Niro didn’t think his pearly whites would do for this particular role and had his teeth butchered. The film did receive Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, but we definitely think the Hollywood star didn’t have to ruin his teeth for it. Aren’t there professional makeup artists that can do just as good a job? We think so.
13. Anne Hathaway (Traumatized) – Took Weeks To Get Her Life Back To Normal
Before Anne Hathaway took some time away from the Hollywood spotlight because she believed people needed a “break” from her, her role in the film Les Miserables was one of her best performances yet. However, it wasn’t easy playing the role of Fantine, a woman who was forced into prostitution and later dies from an illness. Hathaway famously shaved her head for the role and was on a crazy strict diet, which reportedly consisted of just oatmeal paste for weeks. After filming was done, the star admitted that she was both physically and psychologically deprived and wasn’t even happy when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
12. Daniel Day Lewis (Too Far) – Broke His Own Ribs Sitting In A Wheelchair For So Long
Daniel Day Lewis is one of Hollywood’s most talented actors, but he is well-known for studying his character immensely and portraying them with such realness that he’s been labeled a “method actor.” For his role in the 1996 film The Crucible, the actor prepared for his role by etching tattoos into his own chest. For his Oscar-winning role in My Left Foot, Daniel Day Lewis refused to leave the wheelchair in-between takes so that he can really experience the problems his character faced. Constantly sitting in the wheelchair had its consequences—the star was left with two broken ribs.
11. Shelley Duvall (Traumatized) – Was Pushed To Her Breaking Point In The Shining
Stephen King‘s The Shining is by far the ultimate psychological thriller and it wasn’t a walk in the park for actress Shelley Duvall who played Wendy, the wife of crazed maniac Jack Torrance played by megastar Jack Nicholson. Duvall admitted that director Stanley Kubrick pushed her to her breaking point. The director made her do her infamous baseball bat scene with Nicholson over 12o times. That’s insane! She admitted, “I was really in and out of ill health because the stress of the role was so great. It’s the most difficult role I’ve ever had to play.” If you’ve seen The Shining, then you’d probably feel just as drained as Duvall did in that role.
10. Tom Hanks (Too Far) – Role Almost Led To Blood Poisoning
When we think of the films that Tom Hanks has been in, we instantly think of Cast Away. Hanks plays a FedEx executive whose plane crashes over the Pacific Ocean and is left stranded on a deserted island for a total of four years. It wasn’t an easy gig for Hanks. To really get into character, the star lost 55 pounds, spent weeks in water, and caught an infection that almost led to blood poisoning. Hanks had to undergo surgery to recover from the infection. The tough role won him a Golden Globe, and he was also nominated for an Oscar.
9. Natalie Portman (Too Far) – Trained For A Full Year To Perfect Her Ballerina Skills
Natalie Portman is not only a fantastic actress but she’s also got brains. The Harvard graduate has made a name for herself in Hollywood and has been in a number of great A-list movies. She shocked everyone with her acting talents when she shaved her head for the film V for Vendetta. But it was her role in the 2010 film Black Swan that really seemed to go too far. The star, who already has a tiny figure as is, dropped 20 pounds for the ballerina role and spent an entire year training for the role. Portman reportedly spent 8 hours a day in rehearsal and even ending up dislocating a rib. The role won her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
8. Heather Donahue (Traumatized) – Acting Crew Were Thrown Into The Woods Without Knowing What Would Happen
Heather Donahue and the rest of The Blair Witch Project actors had no idea what was in store when they were sent to the woods and not really told what was the next plan by the directors. The movie had just a $60,000 budget but ended up grossing a whopping $248 million. Actress Heather Donahue was the only woman in the film and admitted that she and the other actors were deliberately scared almost every night and directors would shake their tents while they slept. Donahue had the most difficult time when the film had its unusual release because she had to basically pretend she was dead in real life.
7. Sylvester Stalone (Too Far) – Took Real Hits While Filming Rocky
No one would want to mess with actor Sylvester Stallone in the ring and he took his role in the Rocky films very seriously. There were a total of seven Rocky movies spanning from 1976 to 2005. The actor trained very hard for these movies and surprisingly, he actually took real hits. In fact, Stallone insisted on taking real hits when he was in the ring, and the results were not so pretty. The actor suffered a broken rib and heart damage while filming the fourth Rocky film.
6. Marilyn Burns (Traumatized) – Actress Was Horrified Of Leatherface In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
If you’ve ever watched the horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you know it has to be on the Top 10 or even Top 5 list of most frightening movies ever created. Apparently, filming the movie was just as scary for actress Marilyn Burns. In the 1974 thriller, the actress admitted that she was tormented during the dinner scene and that she didn’t actually see Leatherface in costume before shooting the film. She stated, “I thought [he was] really going to hurt me. You couldn’t see through [the] stupid mask.” Wouldn’t you be scared too?
5. Leonardo DiCaprio (Too Far) – Risky Stunts Finally Won Him An Oscar
Leonardo DiCaprio finally won the Oscar for Best Actor after his stunning performance in The Revenant. However, the actor risked his own life when he portrayed Hugh Glass, a man exploring the wilderness alone, ending up with life-threatening injuries from a bear and enduring the freezing cold temperatures. To perfect his role, DiCaprio had to go in and out of freezing rivers, sleep in animal carcasses, and take a risk in getting hypothermia. The actor even went as far as eating raw liver! DiCaprio admitted to getting sick while filming the movie, but it did give him the Oscar win he so truly deserved.
4. Tippi Hedren (Traumatized) – Had Real Birds Hurled At Her Head While Filming The Birds
Tippi Hedren did not know what was in store when she played Melanie Daniels in director Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds. While mechanical birds don’t seem all too frightening, Hitchcock wanted real reaction out of the actress and had real birds hurled at her head during filming. Hedren was left bloodied and admitted to being emotionally traumatized from the encounters. It was also reported that Hitchcock would say inappropriate things to Hedren throughout the filming process. She did end up winning the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year, but we’re sure she stayed as far away as she possibly could from birds.
3. Kyle Richards (Traumatized) – Slept With Her Mom Until She Was Fifteen After Filming Halloween
You might be familiar with the name Kyle Richards if you’re a fan of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but before all of the glitz and glam that come with reality TV, Richards starred in the famous Halloween movie when she was just a kid. Being a young girl and starring in a scary movie sounds a bit traumatic, and apparently, it was exactly that for the star. After the premiere of the film, Richards was so frightened that someone was always behind the curtains waiting to grab her that she had to sleep with her mom in the same bed until she was fifteen years old!
2. Mia Farrow (Traumatized) – Consumed Raw Chicken For Role And Was Also Given Divorce Papers During Shooting
Actress Mia Farrow ended up traumatized after her role in director Roman Polanski‘s film Rosemary’s Baby. The star was a vegetarian, but Polanski actually made her consume raw chicken liver for a scene. Apparently, she had to consume the meat for more than just one take. As of that wasn’t already bad enough, during the time she was filming the movie, she was also given divorce papers from husband Frank Sinatra‘s lawyer. However, the star was nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for Best Actress, which put her on the map.
1. Heath Ledger (Too Far) – Locked Himself In A Hotel Room And Kept A Joker Diary
By now, everyone knows that Heath Ledger was just brilliant as The Joker in the 2008 film The Dark Knight. However, to get into character, the actor locked himself in a hotel room for an entire month to prepare for the role. He also wrote notes about the character in a Joker diary. According to reports, during his time shooting the film, Ledger ate very little and became clinically depressed. His performance as the sadistic murderer won him the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Sadly, Heath Ledger died from an accidental drug overdose before winning the award that he deserved.