These Actresses Went The Extra Mile When Training For Their Film Roles

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to take on the duties of being a top actress? How does two and half hours of boxing, and two hours of weight lifting every day for six days a week sound? That’s only light work compared to what some actresses had to put themselves through for specific roles. When you get paid to do movies, it’s not enough to recite your lines well, you have to make the audience believe you’re right for your role. Read on and find out which women pushed it to the limit for their movie roles.

Hilary Swank Gets Jacked

hilary swank talking
A. Palmberger/WireImage
A. Palmberger/WireImage

Hilary Swank won an Academy Award for her film Million Dollar Baby and she worked harder than most in the business to get in shape for the role. Swank’s whole lifestyle went through a transformation to give audiences that authentic feel the movie possessed.

“My training was two and a half hours of boxing and approximately an hour and a half to two hours lifting weights every day, six days a week,” the actress said. “The producers asked me to gain 10 pounds of muscle. I gained 19 pounds of muscle.”

Daisy Ridley Had To Train Like A Jedi

Daisy Ridley a real jedi
Karwai Tang/WireImage
Karwai Tang/WireImage

Can you imagine what getting in shape to lead a Star Wars film consists of doing? Getting into Jedi condition isn’t hard, and is similar to training as an athlete at a division one college.

Some workouts included “air squats, bent-over rows, box jumps, TRX work, and bench presses (among other things),” according to Men’s Fitness. Not to mention that Daisy Ridley had to get comfortable with a lightsaber. As cool as it looks to wield one, it’s harder to use than the film’s stars would have us believe.

Lawrence Had To Protect The District With Smarts And Strength

Jennifer Lawrence fierce
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

It wasn’t easy getting into form to play dystopian heroine Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games films. Not only was her active excellent, but Jennifer Lawrence didn’t slack on the physical aspects either. Getting into shape consisted of a six-week training regimen most couldn’t have accomplished.

Some of the things Lawrence said she had to do was “Rock climbing, tree climbing — and combat, running, and vaulting.” If you’ve seen any of the films, then you know these were all valuable assets to learn for her role.

Angelina Jolie Knows What It Takes

​Angelina Jolie smiling
Mike Marsland/WireImage
Mike Marsland/WireImage

As of August 2019, Marvel officially announced that Angelina Jolie will be joining the Universe as Thena from The Eternals. We can’t imagine how much preparation is going to into that, but we already know how hard the actress has worked in past films.

For her movie Salt, Jolie had to push herself to the limits. “For her fight training, we got her learning a combination of Muay Thai and Krav Maga very early on,” the film’s stunt instructor, Simon Crane, explained. “The training, at the early stages, took up about three to four sessions a week, lasting approximately two hours each.”

Emily Browning Came Out On Top

Emily Browning at an event
Rich Fury/Getty Images
Rich Fury/Getty Images

According to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, Emily Browning’s conditioning for her role in Sucker Punch was an all-day affair. It began with “4.5 hours of martial arts and empty-hand weapons training each morning under the tutelage of stunt co-ordinator Damon Caro, who prepared Gerard Butler and David Wenham for Snyder’s Ancient Greek epic 300 and Matt Damon in the Bourne films.”

We’re worn out from merely reading that. After lunch, ex-Navy Seals would help Browning with weight training, pulling tires, and body-weight pull-ups. She had a long way to go to get into shape and many doubted her, but she came out on top.

Scarlett Johansson Gets Familiar With Repetition

Scarlett Johansson holding an award
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

Scarlett Johansson often portrays hardcore woman in her films. Between Black Widow from the Marvel Universe and a cyborg assassin in Ghost in the Shell, her training regime is intense. For the latter, she said it involved “a lot of repetition and then a lot of tactical training, which I’d never done before — with room clearing and all that stuff, to just be as efficient with the weapons as possible.”

Even training for Black Widow took some digging deep for the actress. Johansson had to “work out like a dude, eat like a rabbit” to help save the world.

Uma Thurman Has What It Takes

Uma Thurman at awards
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

If you’ve seen any of the Kill Bill films, then you know Uma Thurman’s training wasn’t a walk in the park. Even with the help of props and stunt doubles, Thurman’s preparation for that role was vigorous.

She explained in an interview that getting ready for Kill Bill meant “Three styles of kung fu, two styles of sword fighting, knife throwing, knife fighting, hand-to-hand combat, Japanese speaking. It was literally absurd.” She also wasn’t allowed to be late or leave early from her training sessions.

Demi Moore Needed To Experience It

Demi Moore posing
Jemal Countess/Getty Images
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

1997 might seem like a long time ago, but we bet Demi Moore remembers it like it was yesterday. That was the year the film G.I. Jane released and featured Moore playing the first female Navy SEAL. Moore didn’t want to take any shortcuts, so she dove in headfirst with Navy SEAL type training.

Moore said: “I could have come in and asked to let the stuntwoman do the obstacle course, but I felt I would have walked away having missed an opportunity experiencing, first-hand, what these people actually go through in training; it’s the whole reason for doing this film in the first place.”

Gal Gadot Gained Strength

Gal Gadot smiling at event
Leon Bennett/WireImage
Leon Bennett/WireImage

Gal Gadot was the perfect fit to play DC’s Wonder Woman. After appearing in some The Fast and the Furious films, she had to step up her training to take on the Amazonian warrior. She spent nine months alone bulking up for the role!

“I feel so much better now. When you feel strong, it changes everything — your posture, the way you walk. I look at photos from five years ago and think, Whoa, I was too skinny,” she told Glamour.

Letitia Wright Gets Into Shape

Letitia Wright posing
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Letitia Wright had to go through a lot of work to get ready for Black Panther. A personal training company, Finer Fitness, had the honors of getting Wright into shape and they spoke about the regimen she followed.

“Our sessions consisted of squats, walking lunges, hip thrusts, deadlifts for strength,” Finer Fitness revealed. “And to keep her fighting ready we did incorporate pad sessions where we worked on various kicks, punches, and combinations.”

The Mission Wasn’t Impossible For Rebecca Ferguson

Rebecca Ferguson looking on
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage

Naturally, when you’re apart of any Mission Impossible film, you can expect to have at least some expert level type of training. Such was the case for Rebecca Ferguson who played in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Her trainer for the movie Sam Eastwood spoke with Lifescript and discussed her involvement. “She had to be strong and she had to be able to fight for 10 minutes and go at it again and again and again,” Eastwood said. “Rebecca had to be tough and as strong as Tom Cruise but still have a long, lean, muscle-toned body.”

Portman Thought She Was Going To Die

Natalie Portman smiling
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Natalie Portman went through strenuous training for Black Swan. For starters, she had to spend a year working on the basic ballet skills needed to perform the film’s choreography correctly. That meant dancing for five hours a day, every day.

Portman sums it up best when she says, There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die.” As tough as it sounds, it still doesn’t compare to the work that professional ballerinas have to undergo. Once production for the movie started, those five hours turned into 16.

Emily Blunt Makes A Promise

Emily Blunt smiling
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

After watching The Adjustment Bureau, one can wonder how in the world Emily blunt became so good at ballet dancing. When she auditioned for the role, she made sure to get the part after making a promise to the director.

In an interview with Women’s Health, Blunt said, “I told him, ‘I’ll work my a** off for you. I’ve never had a pair of ballet pumps on my feet before, but I will seem like I have.'” Blunt kept that promise by working out six days a week and by going to the Cedar Lake ballet company for two hours of schooling.

Maggie Q Clears The Air

Maggie Q in green
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

If you know Maggie Q, then you might’ve assumed that she’s been kicking tail for a long time. The Nikita and Mission Impossible III actress despises when people think she was born knowing how to fight.

She said, “I’m half Asian, so people immediately go, ‘Oh, you do kung fu,’ like that’s what we do. We wake up, we do kung fu.” She elaborated more and said that she was a runner and swimmer as a kid, but “all this action stuff is such a challenge.”

Rodriguez Has Always Been Tough

Michelle Rodriguez on red carpet
Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

We know and love Michelle Rodriguez from her roles in the Fast and Furious films. Before that, she had to train devastatingly hard for the 2000 boxing drama, Girlfight. She had to make people believe she belonged in the gym.

Rodriguez said she went through such a transformation, that she was almost unrecognizable. “I looked like I’m on steroids; I looked like a dude,” she said in a 2001 interview. Ever since then, she’s been the go-to girl for Hollywood’s demanding roles.

Theron Is A Veteran

Charlize Theron posing on carpet
Neilson Barnard/Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Neilson Barnard/Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Charlize Theron has been in the game a long time. She’s probably had to work harder than many of these other ladies on this list combined. Who could forget her performance in Mad Max: Fury Road? The film that required the most work from her, however, was Aeon Flux.

Choreographed by John Wick director David Leitch, Theron had to go all out and trained through two cracked teeth. “Having to cut one of the teeth out and root canals. It was tough. You want to be in your best fighting shape, and it’s hard,” she said.

A Fierce Cat

Anne Hathaway smiling
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

Superstar Anne Hathaway isn’t a stranger to prepping for a role. She once lost 25 pounds for her role in Les Miserables. When Christopher Nolan’s team had her get ready to play Selina “Catwoman” Kyle, she was ready for the challenge.

Hathaway said, “They’ve given me a martial arts exercise that I have to do all the time to teach me grace and proper stance and fluid movement.” She was also on a near-vegan diet, which had her eating every two hours. She says the women were working “tougher” than the men for this movie.

Lupita Thought It Was “Fun” To Train For Her Role

Lupita Nyong'O posing
Rich Fury/Getty Images
Rich Fury/Getty Images

Lupita Nyong’O acted as a Wakandan spy in one of the biggest film events of the last decade, Black Panther. To make sure every actor and actress was ready for this monumental movie, everyone had to partake in extensive training that Nyong’O called “fun.”

“I get to jump higher than I thought I could jump,” she said in a Collider interview. “I get to roll backward, which I thought I would never do after the age of 8? So it’s been fun.”

Cry Away The Pain

Margot Robbie looking on
LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images
LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

While many of the skating scenes in the Tonya Harding biopic, I, Tonya was put together using CGI and stunt doubles, that doesn’t mean Margot Robbie didn’t have have a lot of training of her own. The workouts brought her to tears some days.

“Sarah Kawahara, who actually choreographed for Nancy Kerrigan, was training me,” Robbie told Wonderland. “My alarm would go off at 5:30 a.m. and I’d want to cry. Sometimes after sessions, I’d get back into the car and weep.”

Zoe Saldana Had A Good Time Working Out For Her Role In Avatar

Zoe Saldana at event
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

You might not have seen her real face or body on screen, but that doesn’t disqualify that hard work Zoe Saldana put in for the blockbuster hit Avatar. On top of learning martial arts, archery, and how to ride a horse bareback, Saldana even had to learn a fictional language for the movie, a true workout for her brain.

She told Latina magazine, “I had such a fun time getting to know the language, trying to find it within me to find the tonality, the pronunciation, everything.”