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14 Super Dedicated Actors Whose Hard Work Left Us Breathless

We usually lose ourselves so much when watching a movie that we don’t even think about all the effort that went into creating the magic we see on the silver screen. But oftentimes, what happens behind the scenes can be equally impressive and intriguing. The final result is the joint effort of the cast and crew, but the actors are the ones who make it all believable thanks to their skill, dedication, and bravery.

Bright Side brings you a list of 14 actors who went above and beyond to create movie characters that left audiences mesmerized.

1. Kate Winslet

Gilbert Flores/Broadimage/EAST NEWS, © jonplandau / Instagram

Legendary Hollywood actress Kate Winslet is known for memorable movie transformations, but this time she surprised everyone with her incredible abilities. While filming James Cameron’s Avatar 2, Winslet broke the on-film breath-hold record. She managed to hold her breath for 7.14 minutes, longer than Tom Cruise’s 6-minute breath hold in Mission: Impossible.

The actress described the experience as ’’wonderful," explaining, ’’I had to learn how to free-dive to play that role in Avatar, and that was just incredible. My longest breath hold was 7 minutes and 14 seconds, like crazy, crazy stuff." The actress continued, “Your mind completely drifts off. You can’t think about anything, you can’t make lists in your head, you’re just looking at the bubbles underneath you.”

2. Benedict Cumberbatch

In the 2014 movie, The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch was so determined to portray the legendary cryptanalyst, Alan Turing, accurately and realistically that he wore a copy of Turing’s 60-year-old dentures throughout filming. Playing a tragic genius was a challenge in itself, as he explained, ’’Turing got under my skin. It was just so pitiful. Imagining the physical weakness, the vulnerability, the exhaustion, how the hormones affected his emotional state... It was all ungovernable.’’

3. Natalie Portman

Many fans were wondering if Natalie Portman’s arms were real in the movie, Thor: Love and Thunder. And the answer is yes. But looking like a professional bodybuilder took some time and a lot of effort. The actress spent 10 months bulking up and working out every day. Her routine also included weightlifting and boxing, and since her workouts were so rigorous, Portman, who is a vegan, had to adjust her diet so she could ensure enough protein intake to gain muscle.

4. Emma Stone

The Oscar-winning actress was so dedicated to playing her role in the historical movie, The Favourite, that she was ready to deal with pain as well. Emma Stone said all her ’’organs shifted’’ after wearing a very tight corset for days on end for this role. ’’Women existed like that for such a long time, which gives you a lot of sympathy for that time period and what they were going through. For the first month, I couldn’t breathe," Stone said.

5. Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker’s performance in The Last King of Scotland really showcases what it means to truly immerse yourself in a character. Not only did the actor gain an astonishing 30 pounds for the role, but he also learned to speak Swahili and play the accordion. The actor’s personality also changed, as he threw himself so deep into the role of a controversial Ugandan leader that even his family refused to talk to him during filming. Whitaker’s work was rewarded with an Oscar.

6. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

To portray a struggling married couple in the 2010 romance drama, Blue Valentine, Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling, and their on-screen daughter lived together for one month before filming started. They wanted to experience and explore the everyday struggles of a low-income couple in a marriage crisis, so they went all in. They lived in their character’s house, washed dishes 3 times a day, shared a bathroom, and did laundry together. The co-stars even stuck to a strict food budget that was based on their characters’ humble salaries.

Gosling said that they even celebrated fake Christmas, bought birthday presents, baked birthday cakes, and did everything they could do to make real memories: ’’So when it came time to shoot the last part of the film, we were drawing on those moments."

7. Jamie Foxx

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Not only did the actor lose 30 pounds for the leading role in the 2004 movie about Ray Charles’ life, but he also wore prosthetic eyelids in order to realistically depict the musician’s blindness. Foxx reportedly suffered panic attacks caused by the prosthetics during the first 2 weeks of filming. ’’Imagine having your eyes glued shut for 14 hours a day. That’s your jail sentence," he said. But all of his hard work was later rewarded when Foxx won an Oscar for his performance.

8. Charlize Theron

Watching Charlize Theron train for her role as a spy in Atomic Blonde will leave you equally stunned as watching her in the movie. She is fighting like a pro, effortlessly tossing the male stunt crew members around as if they were rag dolls. But it’s thanks to some very rigorous training that Theron was able to achieve this. The actress threw herself so deep into the training that she twisted her knee, bruised her ribs, and clenched down on her jaw so hard she broke her teeth. ’’It was really intense,’’ Theron admitted.

Her ability to transform impressed us numerous times — we all remember her Oscar-winning performance in the 2003 movie, Monster.

9. Ed Harris

For his role as the famous American painter in the movie, Pollock, Ed Harris not only took art lessons and learned how to paint, but he also built his own art studio where he spent days making artwork. To get into character, Harris paid a visit to Jackson Pollock’s old home and spent a night in the artist’s bed to get the feel of the character.

10. Leonardo DiCaprio

While filming Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, in one of the famous scenes, Leo DiCaprio slammed his hand so hard on the table that he broke a glass and seriously cut himself. But to everyone’s surprise, he didn’t take a break. The actor just ignored the wound and stayed in character. The scene continued, and the blood we see on the screen is really his.

But the reward for his acting efforts came sometime later, with the movie, The Revenant. For his role in this film, DiCaprio slept in animal carcasses and ate raw meat. His effort paid off, and DiCaprio finally won his first Academy Award.

11. Jared Leto

Laurent VU/SIPA/SIPA/East News, © Morbius / Columbia Pictures and co-producer

Jared Leto is known for taking method acting to the extreme. He rarely breaks character throughout the duration of filming, and working on 2022 Morbius was no different. Similar to the character he plays in the movie, Leto used crutches on set to reflect his character’s physical features. He even used them on his bathroom breaks, but ultimately, the director asked him to find an alternative way to stay in character since it was making the filming process too long. In the end, they made a deal, so Leto used a wheelchair instead during filming breaks to speed up the process.

12. Meryl Streep

We all remember Streep’s iconic portrayal of fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. To help her stay in character as the strict, coldhearted woman, Streep reportedly cut communication with all the cast members throughout the filming process: ’’It was horrible! I was miserable in my trailer. I could hear them all rocking and laughing,’’ she said. The actress admitted that this acting approach made her so depressed that she decided to give it up completely.

13. Jake Gyllenhaal

For his role in the drama, End of Watch, Jake Gyllenhaal spent 5 months with police officers out in the streets of Los Angeles, witnessing all kinds of real-life crime scenes. He went on ride-alongs with the police and had to endure demanding fight training every day for a couple of months. The actor explained that the idea was ’’to stay true to the authenticity of what we saw, not the romantic version," and admits that making this movie ’’changed his life.’’

14. Mickey Rourke

For his role as a villain in Iron Man 2, Mickey Rourke visited top security prisons several times and became friends with a couple of inmates to better understand his on-screen character. He also took foreign language lessons every day for several hours to be able to portray Ivan Vanko more realistically. But this was not the first time Rourke went all in for a movie role.

In the 2008 movie, The Wrestler, Rourke performed the majority of his own stunts, which resulted in him getting injured several times. This role appealed to the actor so much that he extended it to real life when he showed up at WrestleMania XXV and knocked out a professional wrestler, Chris Jericho, with a single punch.

Have you seen any of the movies we mentioned here? Which movie role do you think was the most challenging to play?

Preview photo credit Marechal Aurore/ABACA/Abaca/East News, The Favourite / Fox Searchlight Pictures and co-producers
Bright Side/People/14 Super Dedicated Actors Whose Hard Work Left Us Breathless
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