Let’s hear it for the coaches behind actors’ Academy Award-winning physical transformations.
And the Oscar should go to … the trainers who make actors look the part.
Reebok wants to introduce an Academy Award category for the coaches who physically transform the talent for their Oscar-worthy roles.
— Reebok (@Reebok) August 9, 2017
“As someone who has worked behind the camera, you know the hard work, commitment and artistry that occurs even before the first camera rolls or scene is set,” Reebok president Matt O’Toole wrote in an open letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences posted online Wednesday.
“There are hundreds of major motion picture footage actors and actresses that transform their bodies for roles each year,” the letter continued. “While their performances are lauded, their practice is not. The best scenes and storylines today often require amazing physical transformations, and actors and actresses rely heavily on a small field of expert trainers to get them in fighting, flying and filming shape. The Academy should celebrate the craft of fitness.”
The U.S. certainly is. Personal training has become an $8.9 billion industry, according to IBISWorld, which could clear $10 billion by 2021. That’s thanks to worsening obesity trends scaring those who can afford trainers to buy into bettering their personal fitness – but also from reality shows like “The Biggest Loser” putting weight loss professionals in the spotlight.
The flip side of that, celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak told Moneyish, is that the growing personal training field isn’t always taken seriously.
“The fitness profession hasn’t always garnered the respect as a science in the same way as medicine or dentistry, or as an art in the same way as a makeup artist or hair stylists, even though it’s both – and also something apart from from,” said Pasternak, who has trained Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Amy Schumer and Miley Cyrus, and also served as a nutrition scientist for Canada’s Department of National Defense.
He said that an Academy Award – perhaps titled “Physique Transformation Team” title rather than just “Personal Trainer” – would acknowledge the blood, sweat and tears that go into making over actors to be muscled superheroes, or whittling them down to sickly figures while still keeping them healthy – and then rebuilding them back to a healthy weight once shooting wraps.
Jaws dropped when the usually lean Robert De Niro appeared onscreen in 1991’s “Cape Fear” with a rock-hard prison body – which he spent six months working on with trainer Dan Harvey.
Would Natalie Portman have made as convincing a ballerina for “Black Swan,” which won her a Best Actress award, if she hadn’t undergone a grueling training regimen with former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers?
Two-time world boxing champion Danny Musico made Hilary Swank a knockout for “Million Dollar Baby,” which also won her a Best Actress Oscar.
David Kingsbury jacked up Hugh Jackman for “The Wolverine” in 2013.
“Often, the amount of work that goes in behind the scenes to get an actor ready is overlooked. People see the end product and not the months of hard work by the actor and years of honing skills as a trainer,” Kingsbury told Moneyish. “Certain films rely on the transformation of an actor to make the film what it is, for impact and for realism. Extreme weight loss managed by a nutritionist and trainer, or the muscle building of the biggest superheroes are great examples and are often integral to the story.”
And Christian Bale has made a career out of packing on muscle for roles in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy, and going down to lean muscle for his Best Supporting Actor win in “The Fighter” – but also dropping 61 pounds to weigh just 185 pounds in “The Machinist.”
“You’re on the set for 12 hours a day for six months in multiple countries on these action films, waking up your clients, making them breakfast and preparing their snacks, and working out with them at dawn,” Pasternak said. “So many roles in film are remembered specifically for the physicality and the actors’ transformations. It can be key to telling a story in a film.”
And even though critics’ claws came out for “Catwoman” – where Pasternak got Halle Berry in fighting shape to play the lead – he laughed that at least one reviewer gave credit where it was due.
“One wrote, ‘The only person who did their job properly in this film was Halle’s trainer,” he said.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved