Jared Leto’s shocking weight loss to play a transsexual woman battling AIDs in “Dallas Buyers Club” was due to a grueling, month-long fast.
In startling photos unveiled on photographer Terry Richardson’s blog, Leto lifts his shirt to show off his tiny, concave stomach. Jared, 44, also shaved his eyebrows and body hair to look like an emaciated and sickly AIDs patient.
The lanky 5-foot-9 Leto slimmed down from 146 pounds to an emaciated 116 pounds by fasting for almost four weeks.
“Your body goes through weird stages,” Jared told NY magazine. “Sometimes it’s hard to hold on to water. But for me, it’s not about the most weight I can lose, it’s more to represent the character. I’m focused on what it means to be a transsexual woman.”
Leto, a longtime vegan diet advocate who normally hikes, cycles and does yoga to stay fit, had hoped to experience the enlightenment some people say they experience while fasting.
“Historically, people have done it for pursuit of self, to achieve a meditative state, so I’m hoping for that, and not the other things.” he laughed. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
Jared previously credited a vegan diet and yoga for his age-defying good looks. The anti-aging effects of a vegan diet are no surprise to Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center.
“A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature — predominantly plants — is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention,” said Dr. Katz, author of Disease-Proof.
Dr. Neal Barnard agrees. “Studies suggest that free radicals [toxic molecules that form in the body] contribute to aging,” said Barnard, author of 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart. “A vegan diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, is full of antioxidants which help protect the body from damage by free radicals.”
Meanwhile, Leto’s co-star, Matthew McConaughey, also raised eyebrows after losing 50 pounds off his usually muscular body to play the lead role in Dallas Buyers Club.
Not surprisingly, the 6-foot McConaughey, who crash-dieted from a strapping 181 pounds to a gaunt 143 pounds, can’t wait to sink his teeth into a juicy cheeseburger after shooting wraps.
“I will have some 70%-beef, 30%-fat ground beef, maybe a half-pound cheeseburger with another three types of cheese,” said McConaughey. “I’ll prepare it all and I’ll make sure that it takes three hours just to prepare.
While dramatically changing his body for a film role is new to the athletic Matthew, it’s something Jared has done before. In 2007, Leto gained a whopping 67 pounds to play John Lennon assassin Mark David Chapman for the drama “Chapter 27.”
Jared piled on the weight by gorging on pints of ice cream spiked with olive oil and soy sauce. In 2008, Leto insisted he would never again gain weight for a film role because carrying the excessive weight on his slender frame damaged his health.
“I’d never do it again; it definitely gave me some problems,” said Leto. “I don’t know if it was gout, but I had a definite problem with my feet.
Jared continued: “Towards the end of the shoot, one of the glaring issues was the pain I had with my feet. I couldn’t walk for long distances; I had a wheelchair because it was so painful. My body was in shock from the amount of weight I gained. It took about a year to get back to a place that felt semi-normal. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back to the place I was physically.”
Jared Leto won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for Dallas Buyers Club.