CHRISTIAN BALE dropped 63 lbs. to play an insomniac factory worker in this fall's The Machinist, joining a corps of actors who seriously slimmed down for breakout roles. (Women, of course, pretty much have to do it for every movie.) Bale may not go on to win a statue, as all these big losers have. But at least he got to chow down for his next part--as burly Batman.
ROBERT DE NIRO Taxi Driver
In 1976, four years before he bulked up for Raging Bull, the original morphing actor took off 35 lbs. to play scrawny cabbie Travis Bickle, earning an Academy Award nomination and a six-pack.
MATT DAMON Courage Under Fire
Already boyishly trim, Damon lost 40 lbs. to play a heroin-addicted soldier in 1996. He suffered side effects from the crash diet for two years, but the role won him critical goodwill for future gigs.
After Brody whittled off 30 lbs. for his 2002 portrayal of a Holocaust victim, his Oscar-winning performance launched him on to gargantuan things, like a role in next year's King Kong.