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Actors Whose Contracts Banned Them From Weight Change

When you think of your favorite movies and television shows, you are likely to envision the actors and the particular appearance that makes them memorable. Be it a hairstyle, set of outfits, or any other particular aspect of their appearance, the image of your favorite characters is bound to leave an impression.

While some people erroneously assume actors effortlessly look the way they do in the media, there is almost never an aspect of an actor's appearance that is not meticulously planned. Every small detail, down to the way their hair comes across in the light or the jewelry they wear, is on purpose, and is often meant to be memorable or stick with you in some way.

However, the planning goes beyond small details. Hairstyles, makeup, and even an actor's physical appearance are all monitored to go perfectly with the character. Though actors can often take it upon themselves to make these changes, many times when actors sign their contracts for television or film projects, they also sign clauses promising not to change their appearance until shooting has concluded.

One clause that often works its way into actors' contracts is a weight clause. Actors might not be allowed to gain weight or lose weight because the role requires them to look a certain way. You might not realize that some of your favorite actors have had these weight clauses, so check out this list of actors whose contracts banned them from weight change.

Rebel Wilson

Probably the most well-known example of a weight clause in a contract comes from Rebel Wilson, who played the iconic role of Fat Amy in "Pitch Perfect" and its sequels. In the film, Wilson's character calls herself "Fat Amy" because she wants to discourage other people from doing it behind her back. She joins the a cappella group with Becca (Anna Kendrick) and the two become very close friends. It is impossible to deny, though, that most of Amy's character arc relates to her weight and doesn't stray far from the "fat funny friend" archetype.

That is why it is not entirely surprising to learn that Wilson was under a weight clause in her "Pitch Perfect" contract. In February 2023, she opened up about her contract on an episode of the podcast "Call Her Daddy" (via Variety). She told the hosts that she waited until the "Pitch Perfect" franchise seemed over to start her weight loss journey. "I couldn't lose a massive amount of weight because it was in the contracts for that movie," she said. "You can't lose ... I think it's not more than 10 pounds or gain more than 10 pounds. You have to kind of stay at the weight."

Renée Zellweger

One of actress Renée Zellweger's most iconic roles is Bridget Jones in the eponymous franchise, consisting of the three films "Bridget Jones's Diary," "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," and "Bridget Jones's Baby." One of Bridget Jones' key habits is lamenting over her weight. The first thing she writes in her journal in the film is that her current weight is 136 pounds, and that she wants to lose 20 pounds.

But the opposite was true for Zellweger, who had to gain 30 pounds and stay at that consistent weight for not only the original film, but then regain and maintain it for the sequels, too. The role of Bridget Jones was not meant to look like a thin Hollywood actor, but rather a woman whose insecurity about her weight wouldn't necessarily cause the audience to wonder if she has body dysmorphic disorder. 

Though "Bridget Jones" won't ever win any awards for spreading body positivity, Zellweger herself did not complain about gaining weight, except for nights when she had no appetite and could not bear to eat another Snickers bar. However, the fact is, between the films when Zellweger took on other roles, she contractually had to get back to the "Bridget Jones look" by the time the sequels rolled around.

Tom Holland

Many people know Tom Holland from his role as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some might also recognize him from dramas like "The Impossible," or "The Devil All the Time." No matter what you recognize Holland for, though, you likely picture his appearance as a young, charming, cut individual. One role where Holland's physique is clearly present is in the film "In the Heart of the Sea."

The film is a historical drama that follows the shipwreck of an American whaling ship in the 1820s that happened to inspire a little book called "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville. Holland plays Thomas Nickerson, the ship's cabin boy and lone survivor. 

Because the crew is meant to be struggling to survive on very few rations, the actors in the film needed to look thinner than usual. Holland was no exception. Holland told The Independent that he was not legally allowed to lose any weight he didn't start out with because he was under 18 when filming. He said, "I had to gain as much weight as I could prior to the weight loss and then lose it all again. Towards the end of the film, I did lose a little more than I should have but it's my art and I love it." The contractual barrier makes sense and is less about the role and more about his age, but it is still a notable weight clause in place.

Tom Welling

Though some people know actor Tom Welling from his role as Charlie Baker in the "Cheaper by the Dozen" films, others may remember him from the 10-season superhero show, "Smallville." From 2001 to 2011, Welling starred as Clark Kent. The show follows Superman as he comes to terms with his extraterrestrial origins and astounding powers.

The show obviously features the superhero, Superman, so it is only natural that there would be a weight clause in Welling's contract. Throughout the 10-season run, Welling had to keep his superhero physique, and was unable to gain any weight. Additionally, he was not even allowed to play basketball, which is his favorite sport, because the producers did not want him to suffer any injuries. The main piece here is that Welling was able to keep his weight consistent for 10 full years while shooting this show. That is no small feat, especially because he started filming at the young age of 23 and did not stop filming until he was 33.

Basically everybody who plays a Marvel superhero

Another franchise that requires weight clauses is Marvel, which gives MCU actors little room to change their appearance. Granted, we don't have any Marvel contracts available to review, but intense diet and exercise routines are famously a big part of MCU actors' lifestyles. Characters like Captain America (Chris Evans) or Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are consistently known for their superhero physiques and are likely highly discouraged from altering their excellent muscles in any way before or during filming.

For example, to keep his body in a condition worthy of Steve Rogers, Chris Evans participated in hand-to-hand combat, swimming, explosive strength, sprinting, and mirror muscle exercises. These actors are another great example of having to work extremely hard to keep a certain physique over long periods of time. If you just examine the group films, the first "Avengers" film came out in 2012 and the last film in the Infinity Saga premiered in 2019. For some actors, it might be the case that those films required seven years of keeping the same weight and physique, which is definitely a challenge and no small feat.

Guddi Maruti

Bollywood fans will surely recognize Guddi Maruti, who is known for films like "Dil Tera Diwana," and "Zindagi Tumse." She has also been in plenty of television shows, one in particular being the 1990s series, "Sorry Meri Lorry." Maruti worked hard to support her family after her father died, so she took whatever roles she was offered. Maruti was certainly pushed into the "fat funny friend" archetype. She never viewed herself as the heroine, and learned to laugh at herself when she was in the public eye because she knew people would eventually chastise her for her weight.

Maruti told Rediff News that she was not allowed to lose weight while she was working. It became a barrier for her and something that would impact her work if she ever even thought about it. Though her weight was a factor in all of her work and within the contracts, it specifically mattered during "Sorry Meri Lorry" after she lost 10 kilos, or about 22 pounds. The executives were not pleased with the weight loss and made her gain it back. It was not until after she stopped working that she was finally able to lose the weight to her desire.

Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis

The psychological thriller "Black Swan" follows a ballerina named Nina (Natalie Portman) who dedicates her life to dancing. The company decides to do "Swan Lake," and Nina gets the lead. However, her competition is a new ballerina to the company named Lily (Mila Kunis), who is the yin to Nina's yang. While Nina perfectly dances the White Swan, Lily's Black Swan is much more raw and seductive. The rivalry becomes some sort of frenemy scenario, and mental chaos ensues

Both Portman and Kunis put themselves through the ringer to play these roles. They had to train to dance the roles and become wildly flexible. However, one of the hardest aspects of training for the film came from losing weight to play the characters and convey realism of a ballerina's standard diet and physique. Kunis shed 20 pounds, weighing an all-time low for her of 95 pounds. Portman also shed 20 pounds, saying that she thought she was going to die because of the intense toll the weight loss and training took on her body. On camera, the experience paid off in the form of one of the best films from director Darren Aronofsky and certainly one of Portman and Kunis' most lauded career accomplishments, but the real-life toll might've been too intense for any human to have to endure.

Chrissy Metz

Another actor known for her weight is Chrissy Metz, who plays Kate in the hit television show "This Is Us." In the show, Kate has many aspects of her personality at the forefront, like her teaching, adopting children, and going through in vitro fertilization, and her different serious relationships. However, one of the biggest aspects of Kate throughout the show comes from her relationship with her body. Kate struggles with her weight pretty consistently in the six-season series, and even meets her serious boyfriend and eventual husband, Toby (Chris Sullivan), in a support group for their eating disorders.

Part of Kate and Toby's journey in the show comes from their work at losing weight. Kate struggles to take better care of herself and her body, so the creators of the show thought it best to include a weight clause in Metz's contract. In the contract, Metz was not only barred from gaining weight, but actually ordered to lose weight along with her character, so the trajectories of both her fictional persona and real life would coincide. Metz was happy with the contract, though, and even called it a win-win. She did make it clear, though, that whether or not she lost weight or remained the same, that she would be doing so for health, and not to satisfy a societal idea of what people are supposed to weigh.

The cast of Baywatch

Who doesn't remember the iconic red bathing suits and the actors in them slow motion running across the beach? These scenes are half of what made the "Baywatch" television series so memorable; the other half came from actors like David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, and more, who inhabited these characters for years. The cast of this beachy soap opera, which ran from 1989 to 2001, definitely worked out to keep their slim and toned physiques intact for several seasons. However, many of the actors were afraid of being fired because of the weight clause that barred the actors from gaining or losing more than five pounds.

The cast discussed the clause with E! News, saying five pounds was the most your weight could fluctuate before it became a problem. Actresses Traci Bingham, who played Jordan Tate from 1996 to 1998, and Nicole Eggert, who played Summer Quinn from 1992 to 1994, explained that if the actors did anything drastic to their appearance, but most importantly to their weight, they would be in trouble with the executives of the show. Of course, because the show's campy nature has most of the "plot" of any given episode revolving around what the actors look like, it makes sense that there were weight clauses in the actors' contracts. Frankly, it is surprising there was even room for a five-pound fluctuation, given that the show started in the '80s.

Jessica Simpson

Though this does not technically apply to a film or television series contract, a bonus weight clause scenario comes from Jessica Simpson's relationship with Tony Romo. Jessica Simpson is an actress and singer, best known for films like 2005's "The Dukes of Hazzard," television shows like "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica," and songs like "I Wanna Love You Forever." Simpson might be best known for her marriage to Nick Lachey, which sparked the idea for her television show, but in this scenario, Simpson's relationship with Romo is what prompted the weight clause.

Romo, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current American sportscaster, dated Simpson for about a year and a half, and ended their relationship in July 2009. Though they never got married or even officially became engaged, they started working on a prenuptial agreement for if that day ever came. In the contract, it was stipulated that if Simpson and Romo ever got married, she would allegedly have to pay him $500,000 per pound if she gained any weight while married to him. She also had to promise that her weight would never go above 135 pounds during their marriage. It is lucky that they never got married. Instead, Simpson married former San Francisco 49ers tight end Eric Johnson in 2014. The two have a happy marriage and several kids, and as far as we know, no totally creepy weight clause in their marriage prenup.