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Hollywood roles to diet for

If you find it hard to lose weight, be glad you're not an actor. Playing an emaciated waif can mean mad, bad and dangerous eating plans, says Gillian Orr

We might well be jealous of actors who have to pile on the pounds for movie roles; after all, the prospect of being forced to chow down pizzas and doughnuts "for work" certainly is appealing. But what about when your part requires you to drop a few? Or, worse still, a lot of them? At first Anne Hathaway, who shed 25lbs to portray tuberculosis-stricken Fantine in Les Misérables, remained tight-lipped about how she lost the weight in case anyone copied her. Now she's opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about her preferred method: fasting. The 29-year-old simply didn't eat for 13 days. Sounds like a blast.

Other crazy methods stars have used to lose weight for a role include the maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper diet, which is how Beyoncé slimmed down for Dreamgirls, and Michael Fassbender's decision to subsist on one tin of sardines a day to achieve the skeletal frame required for portraying Bobby Sands in Hunger.

Meanwhile we get daily updates on Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey's shrinking waistlines. Both actors are playing characters with Aids in The Dallas Buyers Club.

McConaughey, who's as famous for his six-pack as he is for his disastrous rom-coms, says he has been drinking a lot of tea and describes the experience as "a bit of a spiritual cleanse, a mental cleanse".

Leto, too, has high hopes for his self-inflicted starvation.

"Historically, people have done it for pursuit of self, to achieve a meditative state, so I'm hoping for that," he said. Can't be as fun as when he piled on 60lbs to play Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27.