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?
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.