Read it on Salon
Want an Oscar? Go to extremes!
Hillary Swank, "Boys Don't Cry" and "Million Dollar Baby" (won twice)
As the transgender Brandon Teena, she cut her hair, worked out to etch her cheekbones and brought her body fat down to 9 percent. ''It's absolutely amazing what happens when a woman chops her hair off,'' she said later. "I felt like I lost every ounce of my femininity.'' As a boxer for "Baby," she gained 19 pounds of sheer muscle. "My back, my arms, my legs — everything changed," she told NBC News. "My butt, my stomach, everything."
Degree of difficulty: Untouchable. Swank is the reigning champ of going to extremes. It paid off, big time, in accolades.