What He Did: At age 48, De Niro chiseled his body down to an incredible four percent body fat.
Why He Did It: De Niro needed to look believable as ex-convict Max Cady, obsessed with vengeance, in 1991’s Cape Fear.
What He Ate: Personal trainer Dan Harvey put De Niro on a high-carbohydrate diet to fuel his marathon workout sessions. Whole grains, brown rice, and green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and broccoli were the cornerstones.
His Workout: De Niro trained the only way his character could, with endless reps of body-weight exercises such as dips, chinups, and pushups. De Niro reportedly performed up to 600 crunches a day—and it showed in his abs.
Plus: De Niro had previously earned serious street cred for his physical dedication to a part with 1980’s Raging Bull. De Niro trained with Jake La Motta (the man he played in the movie), convincing the legendary boxer that De Niro could have fought professionally if he had a mind to. To look the part of La Motta in his later years, De Niro then gained 60 pounds—thanks to a trip to Europe and a four-month eating binge.
De Niro says: “You’ll have time to rest when you’re dead.”