Holt McCallany Put His Body Through The Wringer Preparing For Mindhunter

Hollywood is filled with stories about actors deliberately gaining or losing weight in order to play a specific part. Joaquin Phoenix lost a whopping 52 pounds for 2019's "Joker," and both Natalie Portman and Mila Kunas lost significant amounts of weight for "Black Swan," a film that required them to have the physique of a true ballerina. Jared Leto gained over 60 pounds to play Mark David Chapman in "Chapter 27," which caused him some serious health issues, and we can't forget Renee Zellweger's often controversial weight gain to play Bridget in the "Bridget Jones" films. In short: in Hollywood, it's all about looking the part.

Amongst the many actors tasked with gaining a significant amount of weight to play a part is Holt McCallany who plays Agent Bill Tench on the Netflix show "Mindhunter." The show — which details the FBI's decision to begin studying the minds and psyches of famous serial killers — depicts McCallany's Tench as a middle-aged man who definitely indulges in more than a few beers a lot more frequently than he probably wants to admit. Therefore, in order to look convincing enough for the part, McCallany set out to make his body reflect his character, a choice that only serves to enhance his magnificent on screen performance. 

Tench is a gruff man. He's been with the FBI long enough to be able to play the game well, but he's also still a decent amount of years away from being able to retire. This means that he's settled into habits and vices that help him get through his long days on the road traveling across the country to teach local police units some of the investigative tactics that are used by the FBI. He has a wife and son back home, so his vices are typically just cigarettes and alcohol, but that paired with his "on the road" diet — meaning that Tench isn't exactly entering body building competitions anytime soon.

The life of a 40-something FBI agent in the '70s

In an interview with Men's Journal, McCallany opened up about his physical transformation into a 40-something FBI agent by explaining that Tench, "drinks too much, eats crappy food, is on the road 40 weeks a year, and whose only exercise is an occasional round of golf." McCallany's decision to gain 25 pounds for his role in "Mindhunter" comes from his belief that when you step into a role, you have to decide, "What kind of a physicality do I want to bring to this guy?" To play Tench, this meant gaining weight and taking up smoking.

The impulse to gain weight rather than lose it is not something McCallany is used to. He says, "I like to lift weights, I'm a runner, I box, I did a few boxing projects earlier in my career." But he dedicated himself to the role and Tench's on-screen habits. It turns out smoking was the hardest part for McCallany. "[Bill] is a big smoker, and it's the '70s, so I'm just smoking all the time while we're shooting," says McCallany, and because director David Fincher is known for his multiple takes, McCallany had to smoke a lot. "We went through so many packs on the show, there were times when I was lightheaded," he explains. 

McCallany took all of the physical stuff in stride, a sign of an actor that is truly dedicated to creating an authentic performance on screen. Still, McCallany can't help returning to his healthier habits once the show wraps, admitting "I'm determined to get myself back in top shape the minute the director says cut."