19. Robert De Niro in Raging Bull
Robert De Niro did double duty with his bulk-up and body transformation in his Oscar-winning performance as boxer Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. First, De Niro got absolutely shredded to play the Italian middleweight pugilist in his prime. De Niro said in an interview in TIME in 2013 that he trained with LaMotta for almost a year, doing one-on-one sparring sessions, and going through at least “1,000 rounds” together in New York City. De Niro added more than 20lbs of muscle to his frame, and had the physique of an actual boxer while filming the movie, according to a deep-dive into the making of the movie from Vanity Fair. De Niro was so dedicated to becoming a convincing brawler, he competed in three organized bouts, winning two. LaMotta was so impressed with De Niro’s dedication, he claimed the actor could have fought professionally if he wished. For the part of the movie when LaMotta is retired, washed up, and very unhealthy, De Niro turned all that muscle into fat.
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