OK, this is just for fun. Based on research readily available on the internet, let’s see which actors who used steroids, and those that claim they didn’t!
Being big and strong is one thing, but being popular for being big and strong is another. The former has no real world pressure, while the latter makes people look forward to always seeing you big and strong – which is the case for actors. This is what it’s like to be literally a big Hollywood star.
Being a bulky hunk ain’t that hard in your youth, but ageing can sometimes force these amazing actors to need a bit of support in the form of steroids.
What are steroids, and why do bodybuilders use them? Which famous male celebrities have used steroids? Which celebrities are “natty” or clean? Read on!
What are Steroids?
Anabolic steroids or more commonly referred to as simply steroids are synthetic substances made to mimic what natural testosterone can do. Testosterone is the very hormone responsible for anything related to growth, especially muscle growth.
Bodybuilders want to capitalise on testosterone, so they all have this strict routine that revolves around maximizing the anabolic (growth) effects of testosterone.
However, some bodybuilders want more than just what their bodies are naturally producing. This explains why anabolic steroids have become notoriously popular in the bodybuilding scene. This also explains why steroids are often prescribed for testosterone replacement therapy.
Steroids are known to greatly impact protein synthesis or the exact process the body uses to stimulate muscle tissue growth. More protein synthesis, more gains.
Side effects of steroid use
Steroids are definitely too good to not have anything wrong with it. In fact, steroids are still considered a “bad word” in the fitness industry, with most people likening the stigma to substance abuse, and they’re not without proper reasons.
The thing with steroids is they’re really good at what they do. So good that once you start on them, and you see how fast your muscles grow and how strong you get, you have a tendency to be anxious when you’re running low on the stuff. Some bodybuilders have grown addicted to steroids to a point where it’s negatively affecting their health.
What happens when you abuse steroids? Here are some possible health consequences:
- High blood pressure
- Blood clots
- Heart attacks
- Artery damage
- Low sperm production
- Testicle shrinking
- Male-pattern baldness
- Liver problems and diseases
- Muscle injury
- Coarse skin
- Excessive hair growth (for women)
- Voice deepening (for women)
- Oily skin and scalp
Any one side effect can be dangerous with chronic abuse. However, many celebrities have coaches, doctors, and staff to make sure their usage is within safe and tolerable limits.
Actors who used steroids – Definitely and probably!
Due to the stigma surrounding steroid use, it’s not easy to find male celebrities who are open to admitting taking a form of testosterone replacement therapy. However, there are a few out there who won’t hesitate to admit this fact, and here are some of them.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – 7-time Mr Olympia, Actor and former governor of California
Being at the highest level of bodybuilding isn’t easy, but staying at that level requires more than pumping iron, especially when it comes to landing film roles. In some cases, it may require the help of testosterone replacement therapy. This is the case with the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to using it, but in his defence it was actually quite new back in the day. In an interview in 2006, the Austrian Oak himself said he did not regret being a steroid user or getting into the habit of using steroids. He said they all took it under the careful watch of doctors and other health experts. He also said he and other competitors at the time simply took steroids until competition day.
Steroids aren’t officially banned in many of today’s bodybuilding competitions, but some contests that absolutely require natural supplements over anabolic steroid use have competitors tested prior to competition.
Joe Rogan – Podcaster, comedian and UFC commentator
Joe Rogan today is famously known for his podcast, but to say that he’s familiar with all sorts of performance enhancing drugs would be an understatement.
Before becoming one of the most listened to voices on Spotify, Joe Rogan had a career that revolved around contact sports as a host, commentator, and interviewer. This means he naturally had the scoop on what’s really going on behind the scenes, and more often than not it involves using steroids for a great physique.
In his show, Joe admitted having taken testosterone replacement therapy and has been doing so for more than a decade. More than steroids, Joe’s also admitted to taking HGH or human growth hormone.
HGH is one of the popular similar performance enhancing drugs known to be more “balanced” when it comes to physiological benefits as opposed to steroids being purely taken for the best physical performance. Fans of the drug say they mostly take it for its anti ageing benefits such as restoring hair growth, improving sex life, and having better vision and memory.
One of the side effects of taking human growth hormone is a bulging belly, and Joe definitely has quite a lot of that going on in his midsection.
It should be noted that HGH is not FDA approved, banned in many states, and most of its claims on health and anti ageing aren’t officially endorsed.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Actor and former WWE Superstar
Wrestling fans in the 90s will never forget The Rock and the way he was such an electric character in their industry. Fans of The Rock back then will also never forget how “small” he was compared to the boulder that he’s become today. Talks of steroids immediately come to mind, and he admitted to it in an interview in 2009.
The Rock said he and his friends tried steroids when he was in college playing as a football player for the University of Miami Hurricanes. However, he said his use became more prominent as he entered the world of wrestling entertainment, saying using steroids is what everyone does in both sports and sports entertainment.
Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the industry still had a culture that would look the other way when it comes to taking performance enhancing drugs for strength, muscle mass, a great physique, and an overall boost in wrestling performance.
50 Cent – Rapper, actor
Depending on whom you ask, 50 Cent could be a nobody or one of the best in the rapping industry in the early 2000s. He has appeared in some film roles where he’s ripped and bulky when he previously didn’t look half as big. Such dramatic weight and muscle changes in such a short time can be easily attributed to steroid usage.
He never openly admitted to taking it, but he was part of a steroid investigation in 2008, alongside fellow artists in the rap scene.
Nick Nolte – Actor
Nick Nolte said he used performance enhancing drugs in his 60s to age gracefully. He would regularly snap at reporters who questioned him about HGH or steroid usage.
The actor is also a fan of self-experimentation as he stated in a 2005 interview:
I’m not talking about taking large amounts of testosterone to increase muscle mass. I’m just talking about putting yourself back into the normal range because your testosterone levels start dropping at the age of 20.“
As a Hollywood actor and action icon, Sylvester Stallone will always be known for his roles in some of the most iconic action films in cinematic history.
Because of the physical nature of the films Sylvester stars in, maintaining a muscular physique was definitely in his top 5 things to do. Just like with action stars of the 80s and 90s, Rambo himself had to wrestle against Father Time and for that he needed the help of HGH.
“As you get older, the pituitary gland slows, and you feel older, your bones narrow. This stuff gives your body a boost, and you feel and look good,” The Rocky actor admitted to customs officials in 2007 when he was caught smuggling them into Australia.
It also appeared Sylvester Stallone wasn’t the only one in the family who used it. Ex-wife Janice Dickinson said they’d share steroids, testosterone, and everything else in the 90s. Stallone would of course deny this.
Charlie Sheen – Actor
Charlie Sheen was once the highest paid TV actor for the hit series Two and A Half Men. Due to a lot of crazy events, we would later be more popular for substance abuse.
Outside illegal substances, Charlie has confessed to taking steroids for eight weeks in 1989 in the film Major League. He once told Sports Illustrated that upon taking steroids for Major League, his fast ball “went from 79 to like 85.”
The Major League actor also admitted that the side effects of the testosterone boost wasn’t exactly pleasant, citing that he can get extra aggressive and “just a little b*tchier than normal.”
Hafthor Julius Bjornsson – Strongman, actor
Hafthor is a strong man and actor known for his role as The Mountain in Game of Thrones. He is not the tallest of all athletes (205 cm), but he’s definitely one of the heaviest, weighing in at a gigantic 205 kg. That’s almost pure muscle, people!
Hafthor’s body composition is not just visual as he’s also proven it by holding the world deadlift record of 501 kg! It’s practically superhuman even for “fitness enthusiast” standards.
Naturally, Hafthor’s feats didn’t come from natural means.
In 2017, the Game of Thrones actor admitted that he used steroids to make him grow as big as he is today. He told interviewers “When you want to be the best, you do whatever it takes.”
Whether he used synthetic testosterone, testosterone replacement therapy, or HGH, he didn’t specify.
Oliver Stone – Film director
Oliver Stone is well into his 70s, but he’s able to keep a youthful demeanour about him because he can afford it, specifically from the anti-ageing benefits of HGH.
The Vietnam veteran didn’t expect a long life, but it appears having access to anti-ageing substances can make you rethink your philosophy in life.
Jeremy Jackson – Actor
Jeremy Jackson was a household name in the 90s, specially if they tuned in to Baywatch. When he tried to make a comeback as the next big action star, his “addict mentality” forced him to spend at least $200,000 on pills, injections, and steroids for three years. Most prominently, he used human growth hormone injections.
Which actors claim they didn’t take steroids?
There are no shortage of handsome and muscled hunks in the entertainment industry, so it’s only natural to think that they’re all “using” stuff to get and maintain such physiques.
However, there are of course who swear to be natty despite looking all roided up. Here are some of them:
Henry Cavill – Did he take steroids for his role in Superman?
Henry Cavill has always been a hunk before he landed the role of Superman. The producers who worked with him insist that he get the best body without the use of steroids. He also trained with experts for his Superman role. It was basically just all about workout routines here and more workouts there. Fortunately, all that work paid off in the end having landed more leading roles.
The media (and social media) wasn’t convinced, but Warner Bros. said they regularly do drug tests to make sure their Superman can be a wholesome icon.
Ben Affleck – Did he take steroids for his role in Batman v Superman?
Ben Affleck isn’t exactly the name you recall when you talk about Batman, but his performance as the Dark Knight in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman has pretty much made him a cult favourite to say the least.
The first thing fans noticed was how “big” Affleck was. Truth be told, Affleck is the biggest Batman we’ve ever had. After all, the role was for someone who had to wrestle with Henry Cavill’s Superman, so the body Christian Bale had in the “Nolanverse” wasn’t going to cut it.
In the film, we saw a snippet of the workout routines Bruce Wayne does, but it’s not totally impossible that Ben did the same workout routines to get the body Hollywood wanted out of him.
Chris Hemsworth – Did he take steroids for his role in Thor?
Chris Hemsworth has become a household name thanks to his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Thor. He wasn’t always as bulky, however, so when he was cast for the role of the Asgardian God, producers asked him to put on more muscle.
Even with his background as a surfer who occasionally lifted, putting on 20 pounds (9 kg) of just muscle is a daunting task especially if you’re not using anything that can jack it up.
Chris never used anything remotely close to HGH or did any testosterone replacement therapy or TRT. According to his coach Luke Zocchi, Chris got that body with nothing but hard work, dedication, and a strict diet.
Performance enhancing drugs – What are they?
When we talk about performance enhancing drugs, we usually mean substances that are banned in official sport. Steroids are the most popular, but we also mentioned other enhancers such as HGH. Here are a few more.
Short for Dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA is the most abundant steroid in humans. Using artificial versions of DHEA has been known to boost steroid production to unhealthy levels.
Erythropoietin is used in blood doping. Blood doping is when a person artificially boosts their red blood cell count. More red blood cells lead to more oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles. This can help endurance athletes last longer, but this can lead to blood clots and even death.
Ephedrine is a strong stimulant. It was once regularly added in fat burners and pre workout supplements due to how good it was at waking you up and making the body perform more than it normally could. It is now banned due to how it can cause cardiovascular problems including stroke and cardiac arrest.
Human Growth Hormone
HGH was originally developed to treat hormonal disorders in children as it helps stimulate cell reproduction and regeneration. Today, people use HGH either to boost physical and mental performance or to simply stay youthful and energetic as they age. Because of how it artificially ramps up performance at the cost of our health, it is illegal in all professional sports.
Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only, based on research available on the internet. Image credits unless specified are from Shutterstock. We condone the use of steroids for bodybuilding and personal training and always advise you seek medical advice before taking any legal alternatives.
A graduate from the University of Santo Tomas, Robert writes about sports supplements, nutrition, health & fitness and medical topics. Robert is a former Research Scientist and holds a degree in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition. Robert regularly shares his scientific knowledge and research-backed content on health authority websites, various podcasts and social websites including Quora.