Most people just see acting as just playing pretend. You get to make-up a character and go through the motions of a story, either written out or just random fun with your friends, both real and imaginary. The profession of acting on stage, in films, and on television could be seen as easy. Folks come in, pretend to be a cop that lost his partner, a doting wife with a dark secret, an ice cream man that kills people for fun, or some other character from a drama for a day and then get paid decent money for it. But sometimes when an actor gets into character they really earn that paycheck.

Several Hollywood stars lost weight, gained weight, got piercings, and even lost teeth for a role. Some went even more extreme, risking long-term consequences on their physical and mental health. All in the name of “pretending.” Read on to learn about what some actors put themselves through to (arguably) enhance their performance.

THE ACTOR: Heath Ledger THE ROLE: The Joker in The Dark Knight THE PREP: Ledger spent an entire month locked up in his apartment and scrawling dark th

THE ACTOR: Halle Berry THE ROLE: Vivian in Jngle Fever THE PREP: Berry refused to shower for 10 days when she played a crack-addicted prostitute in Sp

THE ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis THE ROLE: Christy Brown in My Left Foot THE PREP: Lewis was SO dedicated to portraying the severely paralyzed artist and p

THE ACTORS: Gene Hackman & Roy Scheider THE ROLE: The Feds in The French Connection THE PREP: Scheider and Hackman spent a month shadowing real life f

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THE ACTOR: Dustin Hoffman THE ROLE: Thomas Levy in Marathon Man THE PREP: Hoffman ran four miles a day and lost 15 pounds for the role. For a scene th

THE ACTOR: Forest Whitaker THE ROLE: Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland Idi Amin THE PREP: Whitaker learned Swahili to play the notorious Ugandan d

THE ACTOR: Rooney Mara THE ROLE: Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo THE PREP: Mara chopped off her hair, dyed it black, bleached her

THE ACTOR: Nicolas Cage THE ROLE: Al Columbato in Birdy THE PREP: Cage had two teeth pulled without anesthetic, to help him prepare to play a soldier

THE ACTOR: Val Kilmer THE ROLE: Jim Morrison in The Doors THE PREP: Kilmer spent six months learning and rehearsing 50 Doors songs, 15 of which he act

THE ACTOR: Jared Leto THE ROLE: Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 THE PREP: Leto gained 67 pounds to play the dude who shot John Lennon. Unfortunately

THE ACTOR: Harrison Ford THE ROLE: Richard Kimble in The Fugitive THE PREP: Ford assisted in an actual open-heart surgery to prepare for the role. Kim

THE ACTOR: Charlie Sheen THE ROLE: Boy in Police Station in Ferris Bueller's Day off THE PREP: The 21-year-old Sheen went 48 hours without sleep to pu

THE ACTOR: Adrien Brody THE ROLE: Wladyslaw Szpilman in The Pianist THE PREP: Brody didn't jUst learn Chopin for the role. He wanted to learn what it

THE ACTOR: Billy Bob Thornton THE ROLE: Karl Childers in Sling Blade THE PREP: To maintain his character's pained face and odd, shuffling gait, Thornt

THE ACTOR: Christian Bale THE ROLE: Trevor Reznik in The Machinist THE PREP: Bale dropped 63 pounds in just four months to play a scrawny insomniac. H

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