updated 02/13/2013 AT 10:10 AM ET
•originally published 02/13/2013 AT 7:00 PM ET
Jada Pinkett Smith knows a thing or two about diet and exercise.
The 41-year-old mom to Jaden, 14, and Willow, 12, who recently showed off an extremely toned beach body, says the craziest diet she’s ever done actually involved a whole lot of eating.
“My craziest diet was for The Matrix,” Smith told PEOPLE at the Vera Wang Fall 2013 Collection fashion show at Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week on Tuesday. Seated front row next to model Chrissy Teigen, Pinkett Smith enjoyed some girl time away from husband Will Smith, who recently vacationed with pals – and parents-to-be – Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in Brazil.
To look the part of her butt-kicking character Niobe, the actress was “lifting 170 lbs. chest weight, and a lot of weight on my legs,” she said.
“I actually had to eat tons and tons and tons of food,” Pinkett Smith said. “It was all about building muscle.”
These days, the vegetarian eats a lot less, though she admits she still craves “McDonald’s French fries.”
But don’t let her petite frame fool you.
“I love dressing like a tall woman,” she said, wearing an on-trend peach dress and sky-high Christian Louboutin heels, “I like a lot of drama in my clothes.”