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If there's one awards season storyline threatening to challenge Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger's column-inches crown for overcoming the cooties to honestly portray the love between a pair of Oscar-baiting gay cowboys, it might be George Clooney's vanity-free willingness to obscure his six-pack for his role in Syriana:

Clooney was keen to plunge into the weighty thriller and took the challenge literally.

He gained more than 30 pounds (13.6 kg) to play the part of the paunchy, bearded CIA operative. While some actors enjoy the chance to be freed from incessant dieting, it was torture for fitness freak Clooney.

"There was nothing fun about it," said Clooney. "There was not a moment that was fun about shooting this film. That's not a slap on the film or (the director Stephen) Gaghan. It's just that everybody has that year where you age a decade and this was that one for me."

Merely having The 30 Pounds Story (with optional Ruptured Spinal Fluid Sac Component) constantly recirculating through the media probably won't be enough to push him over the top; though it might interfere with other projects Clooney's working on, he should do his best to maintain the weight through at least the close of Oscar balloting to ensure that he receives full stunt-credit. Two years ago, Charlize Theron took absolutely no chances, wandering alongside the 405 in full Monster make-up while looking for truckers to murder right up until a week before Hollywood's Biggest Night. Only closers take home the statue.