Look, we understand the concept of method acting, and respect when actors choose to (temporarily) suffer for the sake of delivering a potentially Oscar-winning performance.
Leonardo DiCaprio famously “slept in animal carcasses and ate bison body parts” for 2016’s The Revenant—and he took home his first (!) Academy Award for it. But severely restricting your diet to the point where you can’t sleep, all for the sake of a paycheck? Shailene Woodley partook in this dangerous practice, and, naturally, felt the painful consequences.
Spoiler alert: In Adrift, Woodley plays Tami Oldham Ashcraft, a real-life person that, in 1983 spent 41 days stranded at sea when a sailing expedition from Tahiti to San Diego was thwarted by a hurricane that ultimately killed her fiancé, Richard Sharp. (The insanely tragic film is now in theaters.)
To really immerse herself in what Ashcraft must have gone through, Woodley told The Times UK she barely ate anything, limiting herself to just 350 calories a day. Do you know what 350 calories look like? That roughly translates to a bag of Doritos, or a Dunkin’ Donuts jelly stick, or about a slice and a half of pizza. We’d give up garlic to be with a prince à la Meghan Markle, but saying no to a cheesy slab of ‘za? Nah. Really, an adult woman should be eating between 1,800 and 2,400 calories per day, according to the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Obviously, she was hungry. “I can’t sleep when I’m hungry, so I would have a glass of wine to basically pass the f— out,” she said. “For the last two weeks I had a can of salmon, some steamed broccoli, and two egg yolks every day.” This seems like a lot to go through for a role, and it only lasted for a few weeks during filming—which surely was by design, because prolonged food restriction can be seriously dangerous behavior. According to NEDA, it can cause heart problems, neurological difficulties (like the lack of sleep Woodley experienced, and then some), disrupt hormone regulation (messing with menstrual cycle, for example), and a lot more.
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In the flick, she stars alongside Sam Claflin (he portrays Ashcraft’s fiancé), who also faced extreme conditions for the role. “We were working extremely long hours out on the open sea. Sam and I were losing quite a bit of weight as we weren’t eating much,” she told The New Paper in May. “So not having the fuel to run you physically, along with the emotional complexities that were incredibly taxing at times, mixed with the physicality, it could have been a grueling experience.”
Could have? Uh, it doesn’t exactly sound like a trip to the beach to us.
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