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February 25, 2013  | by: Amanda Fiore
Flickr (Jaclyn Diva)

Flickr (Jaclyn Diva)


The Academy Awards are filled with the anticipation of who will wear the best gown, the worst gown, and of course who will walk away with an iconic golden trophy. Oscar winner predictions have been buzzing for weeks and they were right when it came to Anne Hathaway! The actress won Best Supporting Actress as Fantine in the film “Les Miserables.” This win has people wondering, is it Hathaway’s performance or drastic physical transformation that is deemed Oscar-worthy?

Anne Hathaway lost twenty-five pounds for her role in the film. She basically starved herself for months to ultimately prove her commitment to her role. Hathaway’s dramatic transformation even worried “Les Miserables” director, Tom Hooper, who revealed to the LA Times, “To be honest, I thought she was going further than she should, and I tried to discourage her.”

Flickr (quirkypixel)

Flickr (quirkypixel)


This is not the first time Hollywood has seen such an extreme physical transformation to embody a character in a movie. Think back to Natalie Portman in the film “Black Swan.” Portman lost twenty pounds in her role as a ballerina in the film. Her painful manipulation of her body paid off, as she took home an Academy Award for her performance in the film.

Portman and many others, including Hillary Swank, have sacrificed their health to either gain or loose large amounts of weight for a role in a film and have walked away with an Oscar. The proof is in the pudding, the more drastic the change for a film, the greater your chances of winning an Academy Award.

But critics have labeled these cases of physical transformation as a plot for actors and actresses to draw attention to their performances, therefore, fooling the Academy and the public. Skeptics believe actors will and have purposely overdone their physical transformations as a way to give an Oscar award. They believe that an Oscar should be given for talent and the art of acting, not for who can loose or gain the most weight. Are these skeptics right? Have people been too consumed with the bold transformations of actors instead of their actual performances?

Flickr (jmerchant2)

Flickr (jmerchant2)


No, the two go hand in hand. Within the past fifty years there has been a transformation of the movie industry. There has been an increased focus on realism within films, as people want to see reality instead of fantasy in the movies they watch. In order to gain that sense of reality the viewers want to see, actors must accurately portray their characters emotional and physical tendencies.

In some cases, in order to do this, actors must loose or gain weight to effectively embody the role. I give praise to actors and actresses who are willing to inflict pain on and manipulate their bodies for a role in a film. Their transformation demonstrates their passion and devotion to their current role, as well as, the film industry as a whole. In addition, acting is a physically demanding profession to begin with and altering one’s body for a part just adds to the challenge. The ability for a starved actress to keep up her energy while singing, dancing, and acting simultaneously is definitely impressive. And Hathaway was able to pull it all off while twenty-five pounds underweight.

Transforming one’s image for a role in a movie is not a simple ploy to win an Academy Award, but illustrates their extreme passion for acting.

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