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[Article] – ‘Jungle’ & Dangerous Weight Loss For Film

 

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Posted September 17, 2017 by

 
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The film ‘Jungle’ (2017) is based on the international bestseller ‘Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival’ by Yossi Ghinsberg. It’s a much anticipated adventure thriller directed by Greg McLean (The Darkness, The Belko Experiment) and stars actor Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter, Swiss Army Man). The film is about a group of friends who journey into the Bolivian jungle in search of an Indian village. However, their trek soon goes awry and they must find a way to survive the treacherous environment.

Radcliffe plays Yossi, the Israeli adventurer in the film. It was important to Radcliffe that he fully embrace the character, even adapting a new diet to slim down for the later scenes. It’s reported that he lived off of “one chicken breast and a protein bar each day” in addition to the usual coffee and cigarettes. This gave him the undernourished and emaciated look Yossi surely experienced during the heart of the expedition.

This radical form of method acting is not the first time an actor has gone to the extremes to identify with the struggles of a character and present a genuine performance. The most well known case was when serial method actor, Christian Bale (American Hustle, The Fighter) dropped over 60 pounds to play the role of insomniac Trevor Reznik in the film ‘The Machinist’ (2004). He achieved his skeletal appearance by eating “one can of tuna and/or one apple a day” for four months. Bale wanted to drop an additional ten pounds but production simply would not let him for fear of his health.

But could Bale and Radcliffe have successfully played their roles without such profound self-infliction?

It’s not always the Hollywood execs that force actors to drop weight for roles, some actors insist on it for prosperities sake. A film about someone fighting for their life can be successful and believable without showing a malnourished performer. And if the studio demands the audience see this horrendous underweight body frame, it is possible for VFX to shrink someone’s shape.

In fact, in ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1’ (2011) Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper, Snow White and the Huntsman) addresses pregnant Bella Swan’s weight loss saying it was all “digital. Totally. I didn’t have time to lose any weight.” Although she was nervous about how the final product would look, she remarked, “those guys are amazing.”

Achieving a certain look can be done safely, proves actress Lily Collins (The Blind Side, Mirror Mirror) who plays Ellen in the Netflix original ‘To the Bone’ (2017) by losing weight under the supervision of a nutritionist. Collins has struggled with her own eating disorders in her formative years and understood the importance of dieting right. “There was never a number in mind for the weight loss, no set goal for me.”

Now that filming has wrapped, Radcliffe is able to regain the weight he’s lost. And although ‘Jungle’ will without a doubt be another massive blockbuster hit he can add to his repertoire, audiences will be unaware of the sacrifices made to entertain them; sacrifices that debatably could have been avoided but were given either way in empathy.

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Written by:

Jessica Shavlik
@thefilmcactus
Freelance Contributor

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