actors unwilling or unable to gain enough weight for a movie or TV role, fat suits are a necessary evil. They don’t always look convincing and can even come off as offensive if done poorly. But what else is an otherwise slim, trim, and fit celebrity supposed to do if they have to play an overweight or even obese character?
Until the entertainment wizards come up with a better way to alter the size of actors, fat suits will continue to be the industry standard for transforming a person’s shape. Most recently, we’ve seen actors like Joshua Jackson and Sarah Paulson suiting up to play beefy characters on
Dr. Death and Impeachment: American Crime Story, respectively. But they are just the latest in a long line of entertainers to suit up.
We’ve scoured both film and TV for the best (and worst) examples of actors in fat suits, then ranked them accordingly from worst to best. Some of these actors are unrecognizable at higher weights, while others just look goofy. Check ’em out for yourself and decide if their fat suits are effective or simply distractingly stupid.
Cover Photo: FX
10. Mike Meyers, 'Austin Powers' Franchise
Mike Meyers had no shame when creating the character Fat Bastard, who definitely lived up to his name with a Sumo-wrestler-sized fat suit. "I wanted to have a character who was fat, who was the incorrect weight for his height and was born out of wedlock," Myers has said of the character whose signature tagline was, “Get in my belly!”
Photo: New Line
9. Chrissy Metz, 'American Horror Story: Freak Show'
Metz was informed she “wasn’t big enough” to play The Fat Lady on
Freak Show, so she suited up. As she told Yahoo, "It was a first in my life. It was liberating." Photo: FX
8. Joshua Jackson, 'Dr. Death'
To play real-life surgeon and sociopath Chris Duntsch, Jackson was forced to don a fat suit for the final two episodes, which critics universally panned as aesthetically awful.
7. Sarah Paulson, 'Impeachment: American Crime Story'
To play pot-stirrer Linda Tripp, the stick-thin Paulson donned a fat suit – and lived to regret it. "It's very hard for me to talk about this without feeling like I'm making excuses," she said in a Los Angeles Times interview. "There's a lot of controversy around actors and fat suits, and I think that controversy is a legitimate one. I think fat phobia is real. I think to pretend otherwise causes further harm. And it is a very important conversation to be had."
6. Chris Sullivan, 'This Is Us'
Sullivan isn't a small dude, which is why it’s odd that show creators thought he needed a fat suit to play Toby. Though fans were dismayed when they discovered his heaviness was thanks to a fat suit, Sullivan saw the move more practically. “The logistics of wearing a costume like that allows me to travel back and forth through time. We know Toby was married before and, because of the divorce, gained a bunch of weight,” he has said.
5. Steven Schirripa, 'The Sopranos'
It’s hard to believe a big guy like Schirripa would need a fat suit, but producers insisted he wear one to play Bobby 'Bacala' Baccalieri for the first two seasons of
The Sopranos. Then, "I guess they thought I got fat enough on my own and I didn't wear it anymore," Schirripa has said. Photo: HBO
4. Courteney Cox, 'Friends'
In a controversial move that has since come under criticism in more recent (woker) times, the creators of
Friends invented a backstory for the character Monica that involved her being obese. While fans feel conflicted about the role, Cox told the LA Times that Fat Monica was her favorite part of her time on the show. "I could do anything because I was hidden under all that prosthetic makeup," she said. Photo: NBC
3. Gwyneth Paltrow, 'Shallow Hal'
Paltrow played fat and thin versions of the same character in this rom-com which explored the way one man's unrealistic expectations of women was ruining his love life. Of the fat suit, Paltrow recalled on ABC News, "The first day I tried [the fat suit] on, I was in the Tribeca Grand and I walked through the lobby. It was so sad. It was so disturbing. No one would make eye contact with me because I was obese."
Photo: 20th Century Fox
2. Robin Williams, 'Mrs. Doubtfire'
The fat suit was part of the story for this family comedy. Robin Williams played a dad going through a divorce who just wanted to spend time with his kids, so he disguised himself as a chubby nanny. The costume – which also involved a wig and a mask – was incredibly intricate, and IRL, it sold at auction for $20,400 in 2015.
Photo: 20th Century-Fox (Getty Images)
1. Ryan Reynolds, 'Just Friends'
It’s hard to believe Ryan Reynolds could ever make fake fat believable, but the actor managed to do just that for
Just Friends. Director Roger Kumble said the extra heft was essential to understanding Reynolds’ character, Chris Brander. "I didn't just want to give acne for the high-school scenes," Kumble told Fox News in 2005. "We have to humiliate him at the beginning to understand his pain and his journey." Mission accomplished. Photo: New Line