Hollywood's Leading Men Get Larger

When film professor Wes Gehring went to see the recently released "State of Play," starring Jeff Daniels and Russell Crowe, he couldn't help noticing just how large the leading men had become.

Looking at the fat, unshaven, ponytailed Crowe playing a reporter, "I thought, 'God, you're a slob,'" he told ABCNews.com.

Because Gehring researches and writes about film, he remembered that Crowe had gained 63 pounds to play a CIA boss who spends more time on the phone than in the field for last fall's "Body of Lies," with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Apparently, he hung on to several of those pounds for his current film.

"It's kind of ironic that his excuse was a year ago," said Gehring, who teaches film at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. "He has not lost pound one. Russell Crowe likes to play an everyman, and when you look around the world there are a lot of fat everymen, but it sounds like an excuse for him to eat a lot of Doritos."

Crowe, 45, is not the only leading man who seems to be packing on the pounds lately. Daniels, playing opposite Crowe in "Play," also sports a couple chins. John Travolta, 55, and Denzel Washington, 54, in the upcoming summer thriller "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" look like a matched set -- more chunky than hunky.

Even DiCaprio has more padding at 34 than he did during his "Titanic" heartthrob days.

For the most part, Hollywood doesn't seem to care. The extra weight hasn't cost these men their leading-man status and, in some cases, it has brought more roles. Vince Vaughn, for instance, has only gotten more popular at the box office since adding bulk to the lanky frame he displayed in "Swingers."

Women, on the other hand, haven't been so lucky. Kathleen Turner, 54, who once played leading roles in "Body Heat" and "War of the Roses," has rarely been seen on screen since becoming a plus-size actress.

Instead leading women seem to be getting thinner as their male counterparts get heavier. The diminutive Reese Witherspoon, for example, was paired with Vaughn for "Four Christmases" last year. Julia Roberts donned a bikini in "Charlie Wilson's War," not long after giving birth to her third child.

Packing on Pounds Can Still Doom an Actor's Career

"It's just pure double standard," Gehring said. "Leading men are always paired with really attractive women, who are always younger and thinner. Men can get away with it."

That's only true to an extent, says Hollywood gossip columnist Ted Casablanca.

Casablanca says Crowe's career has actually suffered in recent years.

"Part of the reason is he's let his figure go to pot," he told ABCNews.com. "I don't think audiences necessarily want to look at a fat brilliant actor.

"Men can age, get grey hair and crows' feet, but I think the ultimate no-no is to get fat," said Casablanca, who writes the column "The Awful Truth" for E! online. "Look at Val Kilmer. Where is his career? Even Leo DiCaprio was a bit puffy in 'Revolutionary Road,' and he wasn't in any of the awards and the movie kind of died off. Leo looking domestic and suburban -- we don't like, we don't want it."

Travolta, he said, is in a class by himself.

"He's a beloved figure, much in the way Oprah is. Her weight yo-yos, but we always love Oprah, we forgive Oprah. Travolta is very enduring, very charming. He's often comic in his performance. Look at 'Hairspray.' He had the guts to do that -- literally and figuratively," Casablanca said.

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