It was about time for a new actor to shock us with his movie-related weight loss, and right on cue Jake Gyllenhaal walked onto the red carpet for the 17th Annual Hollywood Film Awards last night doing his best “Matthew McConaughey a year ago” impression. As you might recall, Matthew lost a 50 pounds to play an HIV-infected man in the upcoming film Dallas Buyers Club. Jake’s new weight loss is for the movie Nightcrawler, in which he plays a Los Angeles crime journalist.
Jake also grew his hair longer and isn’t exactly winning a place on today’s “Guys Who Look Better With Long Hair” list, unfortunately. But at least growing your hair out doesn’t have any affect on your health, unless you grow it so long that you trip on it and break an ankle or something. Dramatic weight loss, however? Yeah, that’s got a lot to do with health.
I understand that physical transformations are often necessary for actors to convincingly inhabit a certain character, but when it stops being an occasional thing we gasp at and starts being a trend — and when it involves eating dried oatmeal paste squares — I think it’s safe to say it’s gotten a little out of hand. It’s become a way for actors to prove themselves as being devoted to their craft, and that’s not exactly the most healthy technique for proving talent.
And it’s not just for the serious, Oscar bait projects, either. Jim Carrey admitted he went on a crazy diet to get himself into svelte shape for The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, that comedy that came out earlier this year that you probably don’t remember. And even when they lose the weight for dark dramas, they’re not guaranteed to get a nomination. Christian Bale lost an extreme 65 pounds for The Machinist and got no love from The Academy.
If we can photoshop women on magazine covers to look like completely different humans, there has to be some way to give a star the illusion of a skinnier body for a film using computers or makeup. And even if the film doesn’t have the budget or technology to use a different technique, I’ll be the first audience member to raise my hand and say it would not affect my enjoyment of the film if Jake Gyllenhaal’s cheeks aren’t hollowed out. I’m capable of suspending my disbelief.
(Photo: Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.com)