Jared Leto lost 40 pounds to play Raymond (Rayon), a transsexual with AIDS in the hit movie Dallas Buyers Club, which also stars Matthew McConaughey. Jared has appeared in many popular films over the years and he has never been overweight, at least not as far as we can recall. You may recognise him from The Thin Red Line, Fight Club, Girl, Interrupted and Alexander. He is of course also the front man for rockers Thirty Seconds to Mars.
When an actor loses a lot of weight we are always keen to learn how he did it. Was it six hours of exercise a day? A lean diet combined with regular workouts? How many months did he prepare for?
The answer for Jared Leto was none of the above. He just starved himself. He portrayed a man dying of AIDS, so it really would not have worked for him to bit well toned and looking healthy. He had to look skinny, withdrawn, pale and sickly. Before filming started he was photographed looking very emaciated. His waist had shrunk to almost nothing but there was still no six pack abs in sight; his muscles had wasted away along with his fat. He was skin and bone.
Jared spoke to TheWrap in September 2013 about his ordeal and commitment. It was actually very simple, in theory. He said: “I stopped eating”. Yep. that would do it.
Jared said that it really was not an easy thing to do. To start with he was counting down the pounds, but by time he had lost 30 or 40 pounds he stopped counting.
He stopped losing weight at 114 pounds (51.7 kg). He is 5 foot 9 tall (175 cm) so his body mass index dropped to a very unhealthy 16.8. This is well into the “underweight” range.
Losing so much weight changes everything about a man. He said “It changes the way you walk, the way you sit, the way you think”.
Most people think of weight loss as being a purely visual experience but in reality losing weight changes you. Some people have clearer thinking or vivid dreams, others have heightened senses, some feel more alive. But there is a serious downside – rapid weight loss and starvation can take its toll on the body and cause serious illness. Never attempt to do something like this on your own. Jared would have had a team of medical professionals, a nutritionist and support to get him through it.
Losing this much weight is not healthy. But what Jared’s experience does remind us is that with enough willpower anybody can lose weight. It really is just about eating less, exercising more and being totally dedicated to achieving your goal.