Anne Hathaway is on the cover of December’s Vogue, and the cover story is mostly about her experience filming Les Miserables (also coming out in December). And since you can’t talk about Les Mis without talking about her weight, she’s found a new way to say that she starved herself for the role: That she felt “deprived, physically and emotionally.” She gets some points for being creative, but I really wish she’d just be honest about how unhealthy it is to lose 25 pounds for a role.
If you didn’t see every headline written about Anne Hathaway in 2012, here’s a quick synopsis: She ate a really controlled diet and worked out like crazy to play Catwoman. Then she switched to a “crazy detox diet” of 500 calories per day for Les Miserables, supposedly losing 25 pounds (oh, and cutting off her hair) in a matter of days. Although there were competing rumors about what she was really eating or not eating over the summer, and her rep denied the whole 500-calorie-a-day thing, Vogue‘s article makes it sound pretty grueling:
For her role in Les Mis, she had to look simultaneously emaciated and radiant. Before the start of shooting, she went on a strict cleanse and lost ten pounds, which in the early scenes of the film gives her a gossamer quality. She then took two weeks off and lost another fifteen pounds by following a near-starvation diet, consisting of two thin squares of dried oatmeal paste a day.
So it’s not so surprising that she told Vogue that it made her feel terrible:
I was in such a state of deprivation—physical and emotional. When I got home, I couldn’t react to the chaos of the world without being overwhelmed [...] It took me weeks till I felt like myself again.
She conceded that, in retrospect, it was “a little nuts”:
I had to be obsessive about it — the idea was to look near death. Looking back on the whole experience — and I don’t judge it in any way — it was definitely a little nuts. It was definitely a break with reality, but I think that’s who Fantine is anyway.
But…why can’t she just say that it was a terrible idea, unhealthy, and that no one should ever do it?
But if you’re going to use stories about not eating to get publicity for a movie, I think it’s only responsible to “judge it” and be honest about how bad it is for your health and psyche.
I get that a lot of actors and actresses are asked to manipulate their appearances for roles, and I don’t blame anyone for agreeing to do it. (On the other hand, I’m still not convinced that producers couldn’t find a way around making actresses starve themselves.) And it’s not Hathaway’s obligation to discuss her weight, body or diet with the press, but if she’s going to use stories about not eating to get publicity for her movies, then I think she needs to “judge it” and be honest with her fans about how bad it is for your health and psyche.
Tom Hardy hasn’t starved himself for a role (yet), but he has put on considerable weight for several roles. And while magazines didn’t forego the opportunity to publish “Tom Hardy workouts” and diet tips, he’s also been pretty blunt about how awful it is. He told GQ that the exercise is a “fucking nightmare,” and when his interviewer told him he should be worried about stressing out his kidneys, he admitted that he worries about the side effects of becoming Bane:
Oh yeah, I do. My kidneys, my liver, everything. You know, after Batman, I checked them out, and now I have to be careful. I’m not getting any younger. At 34, your body starts to say, “You know you are mortal.” But life is not without risk. The sad things you have to do to get noticed…
Maybe Hathaway doesn’t know as much about the health risks she’s taking, but it doesn’t take a nutrition degree to know that near-starvation diets aren’t healthy. And I don’t think it would hurt Hathaway’s career to chalk her insane weight loss up to Hollywood’s expectations, instead of a fictional character’s personality. But it might help some fans; so why not?