A method to their madness?

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We can all rest easy that 50 Cent has announced he is eating again after losing over four stone for a film in which he plays an emaciated American Footballer dying of cancer. Fiddy is the latest in a list of actors going to extreme lengths for their art, remember the yo-yo weight loss of DeNiro in Raging Bull or Christian Bale's skin and bone transformation for The Machinist? Here are five perhaps less known examples of stars going to the extremes…

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Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen
The opening scene of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now showing Captain Willard alone in his hotel room was completely improvised. Drinking heavily at the time, an intoxicated Sheen instructed the crew to let the cameras roll. The classic take saw him break down in tears, attempt to attack Coppola and smash a real mirror with his bare fist resulting in lots of blood. Everywhere. The disturbed and concerned crew wanted to stop shooting but Coppola, impressed with Sheen’s commitment insisted they keep going.

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Christy

Daniel Day Lewis
Lewis once spent several months living in the wilderness in preparation for The Last of The Mohicans, but his role as Christy Brown in My Left Foot took things a step further. Taking on the part of the cerebral palsy sufferer and acclaimed writer, Lewis refused to break character between takes to the extent of making his friends and co-stars feed him. By maintaining the same hunched over position throughout filming he also broke two ribs. It’s a good job he won the Oscar.

Billy Bob

Billy Bob Thornton
Thornton took some extreme steps indeed for his role of a partially handicapped man in the sleeper hit Sling Blade. In an effort to maintain the consistency of his character’s memorable shuffle throughout filming Thornton placed real crushed glass inside his shoes, resutling in a painful limp. He was repaid with an Academy Award nomination for his pains. Unlike Lewis though he didn't get the gong - which must have been devastating.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon
The future James Bourne lost 40 pounds in 100 days in preparation for his role as a heroin addict Vietnem vet in Courage Under Fire. The preparation was all the more remarkable considering the fact that Damon was only required on set for two days of filming. As a result, he was forced to take medication for several years afterwards to ease the stress the weight plummet caused on his adrenal gland. Now that’s what we call committed.

Dustin

Dustin Hoffman
During the filming of John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man, Hoffman would run half a mile before filming any scenes that required heavy breathing. Taking this further, in one scene where his character is held underwater in a bathtub he told his co-stars, “Don't press on my Adam's Apple, but try to really hold me under. Let me see how long I can stay under. Let me see if I can fight you. Let me see what happens.” His outlandish methods prompted fellow star Laurence Olivier to famously quip, "Why not try acting? It's a lot easier."

Words by Jordan Waller