I’m not sure any role is worth losing your hair or getting arthritis.
It’s literally an actor’s job to transform themselves into a character, and this often involves a lot more than just acting. They may have to change their hair, their body, and even their lifestyle to look the part.
Many of these things can be changed back after filming, but it might take time. And even during the process, these so-called “makeovers” can be extremely unpleasant, and even affect their overall health.
Here are 20 TV shows and movies that forced their stars into a certain look that made them miserable.
We all know Ariana Grande for her signature high pony.
Well, it turns out it’s because of her many years of dying her hair red to appear as Cat on Victorious. Apparently, creator Dan Schneider didn’t want all his main female cast members to be brunette, which explains why Cat was a redhead and Jade had black/streaked hair, despite both of them being natural brunettes.
“I had to bleach my hair and dye it red every other week for the first 4 years of playing Cat… as one would assume, that completely destroyed my hair. … I wear it in a ponytail because my actual hair is so broken that it looks absolutely ratchet and absurd when I let it down,” Grande wrote in a Facebook post.
A similar thing happened to Hilarie Burton in One Tree Hill. After two seasons of intense curling and bleaching, her hair was so damaged she had to cut her hair and return to a more natural color for Season 3.
Another star to lose hair over a role was Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. A natural blonde, Lawrence had to dye her hair dark brown to play the brunette Katniss Everdeen.
Preferring her blonde hair, Lawrence would go back to blonde between films — but her second time doing so, things didn’t go so well. “She wanted to go back to blonde for award season, but her hair had so much color build-up that she decided to cut it off to her shoulders,” Catching Fire hair designer and head stylist, Linda Flowers, told Cosmopolitan.
“I tried to lift the brown pigments out of her hair twice with a base-breaking formula, which helped, but then Jennifer went to her personal colorist and spent eight hours there, bleaching it,” Flowers said. “The entire process really damaged her hair, so that’s when she went full pixie to get her hair back to a healthy state.” Jennifer certainly rocked the pixie cut, but I doubt she was anticipating going brunette and back, killing her hair.
Josh Hutcherson also hated having to dye his natural brown hair blonde for The Hunger Games films. “I’m excited to shed the blonde hair!” he said in an interview on ABC once filming was done.
“That’s the thing that I was like, ‘Get out of here!’ Having to do touch-ups all the time and get my hair redyed and bleached was not my thing at all.”
Sophie Turner was well-known for her red hair on Game of Thrones, but she’s actually a natural blonde.
She was constantly dying her hair red and then blonde again — and one of these times, her hair never recovered. “A few years ago, I was trying to go back from red to blonde, and it destroyed my hair to the point that I had to use a wig for Game of Thrones,” she told Glamour. “They wouldn’t let me dye it back red, or my hair would’ve fallen out.”
Surprisingly, one star who had to bleach his hair frequently for a role didn’t experience hair loss — but still, the process wasn’t exactly fun. I’m of course referring to the iconic platinum blonde, Draco Malfoy.
Tom Felton, who played Draco, had to dye his hair every 10 days to prevent dark roots and keep his hair white. He said in 2008, “The worst thing was dying my hair blonde. It built some superhuman resistance, but it seems to have survived.”
But it wasn’t just the hair that frustrated Felton. He also wasn’t allowed to tan, and had to wear SPF 50 every time he was in the sun, so that his skin tone remained the pale white that was required of the character.
James Marsters also had to bleach his hair constantly — in his case, every eight days — for his role as the vampire Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “They told me repeatedly my hair would fall out, or rather they were not sure I would have hair by the end,” he said.
“The makeup department was really particular: There can never be roots in your hair. So for seven years, we did it every episode. I agreed to bleaching when I thought I was going to die in five episodes. I don’t know if I would have agreed to it for seven years,” He continued. His hair ended up surviving, but he added that “my scalp did not like that.”
Like Felton and Marsters, Anna Paquin was also contractually obligated to keep dying her hair blonde to play Sookie on True Blood. Answering what she didn’t like about the playing the character at Comic-Con in 2009, Paquin said she wished Sookie weren’t blonde.
“I would be spending a lot less time in the hair salon getting my roots retouched, and my hair would probably be a little bit longer because it’s gradually getting shorter as the ends break off because I’m a fake, fake, fake blonde,” she told the crowd.
She dyed her hair as soon as the series finished filming, opting for mermaid blue, purple, and green.
Remember “The Rachel” that everyone was obsessed with in the ’90s, after Jennifer Aniston sported the ‘do on Friends? Well, it may just have been a haircut, but it still made Aniston’s life miserable.
“I think it was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen,” she said in 2011. Later, she expressed frustration in having the haircut on days she wasn’t on set, because she found it impossible to style on her own. “I needed [my hairstylist] Chris [McMillan] attached to my hip. Left to my own devices, I am not skilled with a hairbrush and blow dryer.”
Kate Winslet initially loved the idea of going bright red for Titanic, but the hairstyle brought on a little more trouble than expected. “I hadn’t counted on how hard it would be to go back to my natural hair color after filming,” she told Elle. “It took almost two years.”
She also expressed frustration with her curls in the film. “My hair isn’t naturally wavy, so it had to be curled every day and was impossible to maintain because there was water all around us,” she said. “We were filming in a series of tanks, so the water was always in the air, and it would create a problem for everybody’s hair.”
Moving away from hair…Amy Schumer was pressured to lose weight for the film SHE WROTE, Trainwreck. “It was explained to me before I did that movie that if you weigh over 140 pounds as a woman in Hollywood, that…if you’re on the screen it will hurt people’s eyes,” she said in an interview.
“So I lost some weight to do that, but never again.” She said they had her work with a trainer and gave her a strict diet (which she said had “no food” for some meals), but that it only caused her to lose three pounds.
Margaret Cho was also pressured to lose weight for All-American Girl. She was told she “was too overweight to play the part of [herself].” She then drastically decreased her food intake, and later ended up in the hospital with kidney failure from “not eating.”
For the film Adrift, Shailene Woodley was only able to eat 350 calories a day for weeks to play a sailor lost at sea. She called it miserable, saying she couldn’t sleep at night because she can’t sleep when she’s hungry, so she’d have to have a glass of wine to “put herself out for the night.”
In another extreme dieting example, Anne Hathaway said she had to basically “stop eating” for 13 days of shooting while filming for Les Misérables. She didn’t share the exact details of her diet (as she didn’t want anyone to copy it), which caused her to lose 25 pounds. Costar Isabelle Allen said that Hathaway broke her arm after losing the weight as a result of falling off her bike and being “thin and fragile” from her diet.
While the diet sounds miserable, it wasn’t Hathaway’s only challenge with taking on the role. She also had her long locks chopped off onscreen in one scene, and was “inconsolable” after.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Charlize Theron had to gain weight for her role in Tully. Increasing her intake of sugar and processed foods actually ended up making her get “hit in the face pretty hard with depression. … I was not that fun to be around on this film.”
Jared Leto is known for committing to roles, so it’s no surprise he also gained weight for a role — in his case, 67 pounds for his role in the film Chapter 27. To gain the weight, he drank microwaved pints of ice cream mixed with olive oil and soy sauce.
As a result, he developed a form of arthritis called gout, and doctors wanted to put him on a cholesterol medicine. He later said he’d never do anything like that again and doesn’t advise others to try.
Robert De Niro gained 55 pounds to play boxer Jake La Motta in his older years in Raging Bull. The weight gain caused him to start getting rashes on his legs. Director Martin Scorsese said his breathing was also affected, and reminded him of his own breathing during an asthma attack.
Matt Damon, in contrast, had to pack on the muscle for his role in the Bourne films. Starring in Jason Bourne at age 45, he emphasized the amount of time spent in the gym. “It’s not worth it! … It’s no way for any of us to live,” he said. “Unless it’s your job, three hours a day in the gym, or two hours and then a long run later… or a long hike with a weight vest on… it just sucks.”
“And then it’s the diet where you’re not really eating anything you want to eat. You’re not having that glass of wine at the end of the day…it’s pretty lame,” he continued.
And finally, Chris Evans also struggled with the amount of time he had to spend in the gym in preparation for his role as Steve Rogers/Captain America. “It was grueling,” he said. “It was brutal and I’d find any excuse possible not to go.” But, he said, “I had to do it.”
What do you think? Could you have undergone any of these transformations, or can you not even imagine having to change massive things about your appearance to appear in a movie? Let us know in the comments below!