THE THINKING HE-MAN
By Jason Johnson
May 28, 2010
Muscles, muscles and more muscles. Hollywood loves muscles.
Biceps, pecs, abs, delts, quads – these are the tools with which a young thespian must arm himself if he hopes to have a lucrative career on the silver screen.
Forget singing, dancing and acting lessons. Forget Shakespeare and Broadway.
That’s all sissy stuff.
If you want to make it big, you really have to make it big – your body, that is.
When film-makers needed a muscle man in the old days, they’d go and hire a body builder like Arnold Schwarzenegger, or a niche musclehead like Sylvester Stallone.
These days, almost everyone is expected to look like Mr Olympia.
Guys who have been known more for their acting than their abs like Jake Gyllenhaal, star of Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time which opens today, must purge themselves of their innate nerdiness if they want a piece of the big time. Â
Hollywood movies have become synonymous with action movies, and men of action obviously need big, ripped, bronzed, hairless bods.
Girlie men need not apply.
We pound down a protein shake, knock off some reps, feel the burn and then finally get around to presenting you with the most amazing muscle makeovers over the past several years.
When I interviewed Jake Gyllenhaal during a junket for the disaster epic The Day After Tomorrow back in 2002, I remember being surprised at how buff he was.
Having loved his work in Donnie Darko (2001), Bubble Boy (2001) and The Good Girl (2002) where he played shrimpy, dorky teens, I thought he was going to be the next Johnny Depp, a quirky little guy who would build a career doing cultish little movies before finally going mainstream.
Â How wrong I was. He didn’t look like a quirky little guy; he looked like a manly man.
With his latest flick Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, the 29-year-old has travelled as far as it is possible for him to travel from his cool indie roots playing the warrior Prince Dastan.
With his long hair, stubbly chin and ripped body, he looks more Lorenzo Lamas than Johnny Depp.
It’s not like he didn’t try crossing over to beefcake territory earlier.
After Tobey Maguire was momentarily sidelined by an illness, Gyllenhaal was lined up for Spider-Man 2. He was also a finalist for the role in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins before losing out to Christian Bale.
So how did he finally make the leap from Bubble Boy to Persian Prince?
Six months’ worth of exercise, for starters.
‘He trained every single day, he rode bikes, he lifted weights, he had a very specific diet,’ producer Jerry Bruckheimer said in a recent interview.
‘He couldn’t eat any fats. It was really a lot of protein, and all during filming he was working out, in 120 degree heat. People saw him after a long day, at seven at night, taking a jog. He kept it up through the whole thing, both here and in Morocco. And when we were filming in London, he wanted to make sure he kept his physical characteristics the way he wanted them to be. ‘
In fact, Gyllenhaal’s new look could turn out to be a good career move.
He’s been in talks to play Joe Namath in a biopic – and has reportedly secured the American football legend’s personal stamp of approval.
A prime example of the awesome power of enlarged muscles to lift a career to new heights, Ryan Reynolds went from pizza guy (in the sitcom Two Guys, A Girl And A Pizza Place) to leading man almost overnight thanks to a hot new physique.
Having started off as a gangly, fast-talking Canadian dork, Reynolds bulked up like crazy for his role in Blade: Trinity (2004).
Once audiences got a look at just how nicely this once-skinny guy filled out, they couldn’t get enough, and Reynolds went from strength to strength in flicks like Just Friends (2005), Definitely Maybe (2008), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and The Proposal (2009).
All that pumping up will really pay off next year when Reynolds, 33, stars in the highly-anticipated DC superhero flick The Green Lantern.
Girls want him, guys want to be him…and also kinda want him.
But that’s another discussion.
You know you’ve got it going on body-wise when your naked torso elicits squeals of delight and embarrassed giggles on a mass scale from theatre audiences.
And that’s just the dads.
The 18-year-old Lautner, unlike most of our muscle makeover selections, has been an athlete from young.
He won all kinds of medals in international tournaments for his mad karate skills, skills which he later showed off in Robert Rodriguez’s kiddie flick The Adventures Of Sharkboy And Lavagirl 3-D (2005).
But as fit as Lautner was, he wasn’t fit enough for the abs-crazed producers of The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), who thought he was too scrawny to play a hulking werewolf.
Taylor really showed them, though, packing on 13kg of muscle in just a few months.
‘I was doubling the amount of calorie intake I had before, which was just really tough, eating every two hours,’ he told MTV News.
This is what they call suffering for your art.
Our question to Chris Evans: Isn’t being perfect good enough?
How attractive do you really need to be before it all just gets sickening?
Evans made his debut as a handsome but quite slender fellow in The Newcomers back in 2000, but by the time he landed a role in Not Another Teen Movie in 2001, he was already showing signs of being a special kind of hottie.
‘When I found out I had to take off my shirt in Not Another Teen Movie, I panicked and hit the gym,’ he said.
‘I was, like, it’s going to be on film, documented, for my kids to see. I need to put on some muscle.’
As it turned out, Evans, 28, didn’t simply put on some muscle, but some awe-inspiring muscle, which he showed off every chance he got in the Fantastic Four films.
This month, his ‘guns’ looked bigger and better than ever in The Losers, and we suspect he will reach even greater heights of man-loveliness when he appears as Captain America next year.
Adrien Brody is a skinny guy.
Which begs the question: Why on earth is the 37-year-old starring in the reboot of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Predator?
Opening on July 8, Predators will go back to the formula that made the first film such a success – that is, a rumble in the jungle with a killer alien.
Or, in this case, aliens.
If ever there was a situation that called for a beefy muscle man, this would surely be it.
Brody claims to have put on a ton of weight for his role as the special forces soldier Royce and to judge by the pictures we have seen, he does look somewhat less whippet-like than usual.
‘I give my word that I know what I need to do to deliver a level of truth and authenticity with a role like this,’ he said during a recent press conference.
‘I put on 25 pounds (11kg) for this role, but that wasn’t the point – they didn’t hire me to be a body builder.’
Brody, brother, just one tip: Schwarzenegger never concerned himself with ‘truth’ and ‘authenticity’ and namby-pamby things like that.
Just shut up and cram some more broiled chicken down your pie hole.