04/12/2012

Anyone else a little uncomfortable with this?

Above is a picture of a scarily slim Jared Leto posing for Terry Richardson's Diary and showing everyone that Matthew McConaughey isn't the only hot actor from the 90s who can starve themselves in the name of art. Both are currently filming The Dallas Buyers Club while apparently competing in a "Who Can Go The Longest Without Food Before Fainting" contest and whether that's the point or not I for one am finding it difficult to look at either of them.

It seems that every ten minutes some actor is in the press desperately trying to get everyone to pat them on the back for putting their health at risk for something as trivial as a movie role. Sure, it's their job and they're well within their rights to want to put everything into a character (especially when that character was a real person), but are the actors pushing themselves to do it or are we expecting it of them?

Before Raging Bull and DeNiro's famous Italian eatin' holiday no actor felt the need to lose or gain a disturbing amount of weight in order to effectively and truthfully portray a character but now everyone is at it. I can barely look at Anne Hathaway's malnourished face without imagining her practising her Academy Award acceptance speech in the mirror because hey, forgoing food makes her a more dedicated actress than the rest, right?
It's not so much the body change that bothers me but the overwhelming smugness that radiates from anyone who happens to do it. Half of the praise thrown at Charlize Theron for Monster was because she temporarily covered up her face and body - which happens to the western ideal of beauty - to become a crazy-looking trailer park queen you wouldn't want to sit near you on public transport.

Christian Bale got down to less than 9 stone for The Machinist before gaining it back and then some for Batman Begins and you didn't see him bragging to Vogue about the difficulties of meeting his goal with an expectant air of critical acclaim. Matt Damon famously went on a self-prescribed (i.e. insane) diet in order to lose over 3 stone for a measly two days of filming, and while he said at the time that he needed to do it to show the industry how committed he was to his craft, he's later backtracked and acknowledged that he so easily could have killed himself.

"I had to be thin and went on an unsupervised diet which could have killed me," he told The Sun. "A doctor told me later I could have shrunk my heart permanently. It didn't do me any good.

No shit, Sherlock. Heart issues aside he experienced dizzy spells and hot flashes and had to take medication for years to correct the stress inflicted on his adrenal gland. I have no idea what that is but it sounds important. 

Obviously an actor can't play a man dying of AIDS or a struggling prostitute or a heroin addict looking healthy, bronzed and with perfect highlights but surely a few pounds and a bit of well-placed make up can achieve similar levels of effectiveness without a human being almost killing themselves?

Meh, actors will be actors, and while I'll admit that we should probably be more concerned with people in the world who are actually starving to death without the aid of four assistants and a multi-million dollar paycheck, their insistence on looking skinnier than Skeletor is becoming increasingly OTT and unnerving.

More importantly, what if The Dallas Buyers Club is shit? Talk about having egg on your face.