Beyonce: 'I Lost 20 Lbs.' for Dreamgirls

05/20/2006 at 10:15 AM EDT

Beyonce: 'I Lost 20 Lbs.' for Dreamgirls
Beyonce
Dennis Van Tine/London Features
At a Cannes Film Festival preview of the upcoming movie Dreamgirls on Friday, stars Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson admitted they'd dealt with some weighty issues for their roles.

Knowles, 24, told reporters that she lost 20 lbs. to play the super-svelte Deena Jones, the lead singer of the Dreamettes – a '60s-style group loosely modeled on Diana Ross and the Supremes.

"At the beginning (of filming), I was my normal weight," she said. "I actually gained a little bit, but then I lost 20 lbs. when I went from young Deena to old Deena. I wanted it to be something more than just make-up and hair. I wanted to see the change."

Asked whether Hollywood executives pressured her to drop the weight, Knowles, in a blue halter dress designed by her mother Tina, said, "Oh no, that was my idea.

"The director (Bill Condon) actually kept telling me to 'eat, eat, eat' for continuity, but I really wanted to go all the way. I was inspired by Tom Hanks. He did it all the way (in Castaway), so I said, I can do it all the way!"

Her costar, former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson, makes her big-screen debut as Effie White, the powerful singer criticized by the Dreamettes' manager (Jamie Foxx) for her full figure.

Hudson told reporters she wasn't trying to lose weight: "Why fix something that isn't broke? Someone has to represent the average girl. Not everyone is a size 2."

Still, she added, "I've been trying to work out, to make sure my curves don't get too much curvy. I enjoy my jelly where it is."

The movie, based on the Tony-winning 1981 Broadway musical, is due in theaters in December.

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