Jamie Neish: Lengths actors go to for success

Robert De Niro as Jake La Motta in 'Raging Bull', Pic: Comp
Robert De Niro as Jake La Motta in 'Raging Bull', Pic: Comp
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MOVIE stars frequently alter their appearances for their craft. Whether it’s through make-up or prosthetics, there’s usually some element of adjustment that comes with portraying a character to achieve maximum realism.

Some actors take it to an extreme, modifying themselves physically and mentally to mark their dedication to a role. Robert De Niro famously piled on the pounds to play real-life middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta, while Charlize Theron did the same for her role in Monster.

Both of these actors were rewarded with all types of awards and critical plaudits for their efforts. But it doesn’t work out that way for all actors who decide to risk their health - and ultimately their lives - to more convincingly embody a character.

Christian Bale, who’s ballooned up and down on several occasions, dropped down to mere skin and bone for his role as an insomniac in The Machinist, but was by and large overlooked when it came to awards season. The same can be said for Jared Leto, who put on weight for independent film Chapter 27, which was trashed by critics.

It represents the fact that no matter how much strenuous exertion actors put into their performances, there’s no assurance that their efforts will be rewarded. As much of an undertaking as it is, it’s no good if script and direction don’t add up.

The success of a movie ultimately comes down to the whole package. And, as much as the odd actor showing a high level of commitment will be rewarded in a not-so-good film, there’s more chance of success if the hard work is spread around rather than concentrated on one particular area.

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