Critics and viewers alike have long expressed admiration for actors who achieve physical transformations to prepare for movie roles. Think of Natalie Portman getting into ballerina shape for Black Swan, or Tom Hardy gaining muscle and cutting off part of his face to play Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. But what about actors who do this for movies that turn out to be absolutely terrible? For example:
In 2007, Jared Leto put on 60 pounds for his starring role in Chapter 27, a film about the fat dude who shot John Lennon. In the process, he managed to give himself gout. Near the end of shooting, the guy was in so much pain from the shock weight gain that he "couldn't walk for long distances" and had to use a wheelchair. Oh, and in case you're thinking that at least he got to let himself go and eat a bunch of delicious food, note that he did it by stuffing himself with melted ice cream laced with olive oil and soy sauce.
Chapter 27 got a whopping 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and earned $56,000 at the U.S. box office on a budget of about $5 million.
Rapper 50 Cent went in the opposite direction, losing 64 pounds for his role as a cancer victim in All Things Fall Apart. He achieved his new look via an all-liquid diet and running for three hours a day.
The movie not only didn't get widespread distribution, but didn't even get enough reviews for a Rotten Tomatoes percentage rating. The critics that did review it thought it sucked, with one comparing its treatment of cancer to The Room. Scathing!
At least at that point 50 Cent would have been able to justifiably drown his sadness by eating a lot of pie.
Adrien Brody put on 25 pounds of muscle for his role as a mercenary in Predators, and that was just the beginning. Brody describes an entire lifestyle change: living alone in a shack in the jungle, meditating and reading survival manuals and Sun Tzu. He gave up all alcohol, sugar and sex. In other words, he could have spent this time and effort becoming Batman, but instead he used it to star in a movie where a super-alien rips out the spine of the guy from Justified.
Predators managed to squeeze by with a positive critic rating from Rotten Tomatoes, but got only a 51 percent from the audience. Given that it's a quasi-remake of a film whose protagonist speaks with a strong Austrian accent for no reason that was ever explained, maybe the target audience just wasn't one to appreciate character realism.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was the second movie where Nicolas Cage played the cursed spirit Ghost Rider, and the fourth movie in which Nicolas Gage was on fire at some point.
Perhaps using the same logic that guides him in choosing scripts, Nicolas Cage decided to prepare for this sequel by summoning the spirit of death. Cage described painting his face to resemble the Haitian voodoo death spirit Baron Samedi. Cage also sewed ancient Egyptian relics into his leather jacket in order to convince himself he was "in contact with ancient ghosts."
The spirits aren't really helpful with acting, though.
Spirit of Vengeance earned a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 17 percent and disappointed at the box office. Additionally, shortly before its release, one of the original Ghost Rider character creators sued Marvel over ownership rights and lost, creating an Internet backlash against both the character and the company. Maybe this proves that you shouldn't fuck around with ancient ghosts.