Beauty is definitely relative, depending on the eye of the beholder. But no thanks to media and Hollywood, there are certain standards to what is deemed beautiful and given the superficiality of the industry, these so-called standards are definitely through the roof. Women are expected to be skinny with rock-hard abs, shapely legs, luscious tresses, and flawless skin. These days, men are also being judged for their physical appearances. With the world evolving as it is, we can all honestly say that, boy, what a shallow one we live in.
It’s because of this obsession with physical appearances that us mere mortals have become fixated on crash dieting to stay skinny, getting a Botox injection to remove that lone wrinkle around the mouth, and blowing off all our money just to copy the signature outfit of our favorite actress. But not all actors are adamant about looking like a million bucks at all times. These actors dared to take the risk and get “ugly” for a particular movie role. Again, we use the term “ugly” in reference to physical appearances that abide by the ridiculous dictates of Hollywood.
13. Taryn Manning ( Orange Is the New Black)
She made her film debut in the teen drama Crazy/Beautiful back in 2001 and though she’s had roles in many other films and TV shows, Taryn Manning’s most memorable role to date is the current one she’s playing as Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett in the hit TV series Orange Is The New Black. She’s not afraid to cover up her beauty for the sake of the role, which requires wearing prosthetics to make her teeth look rotten. She’s also forbidden to wear any make-up at all to give off that wasted look.
12. Naomi Grossman ( American Horror Story)
She was barely recognizable in her role as Pepper in the horror TV series American Horror Story, as the character looked like she belongs in a freak show. To stay as true to her character as possible, Grossman went so far as to shave her head, doing away with prosthetics in that department. Then she would undergo a three-hour make-up session with not just one but two make-up artists, to finish off her look for the now-famous character she played to the hilt.
11. Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
It may have been a box-office bomb, but the 2014 film Cake was undoubtedly one that Jennifer Aniston was proud to do. Her performance as Claire, a woman who joins a chronic pain support group, was lauded by critics and in the film, Aniston was brave enough to shed her pretty girl image and go all plain Jane on the audience. No, she didn’t need to resort to using prosthetic make-up or gain a ton of weight, but she did go without make-up and stopped taking care of her appearance to give the impression that her character was truly depressed.
10. Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones’ Diary)
It would be unfair to say that Renee Zellweger “got ugly” to play Bridget Jones because she was still so adorable and endearing as the slightly chubby, socially awkward news reporter caught in a love triangle between playboy Daniel Cleaver (played by Hugh Grant) and the elusive Mark Darcy (played by Colin Firth). But for the role, Zellweger had to gain several pounds, wear practically no make-up, and leave her hair looking stringy and disheveled.
9. Charlize Theron (Monster)
She’s known as one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, constantly landing on fashion experts’ best dressed lists every time she walks down the red carpet during awards shows and premiers. Charlize Theron can wear a burlap sack and still look amazing. But for the love of acting and to rise up to the challenge, she accepted the role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the movie Monster and made a complete physical transformation. She gained 30 pounds and had her facial features transformed with heavy make-up and prosthetic teeth. Her efforts paid off, because she took home an Academy Award for her critically-acclaimed performance.
8. Christian Bale (American Hustle)
He may be one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, but Christian Bale also takes his roles to heart and because of his passion for his craft, he’s notoriously known to be difficult to work with. He has won praise from critics for many roles, especially those where he had to alter his physical appearance. In the film American Hustle, the usually svelte Bale had to gain 40 pounds and wear period ‘70s outfits that showed a prominent beer belly.
7. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper)
Save for his eyes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was almost unrecognizable when he played the younger version of Bruce Willis’ character in the box office hit Looper. For the role, Gordon-Levitt revealed that he had to endure three hours’ worth of make-up sessions and have some of his facial features tweaked to look similar to Willis. The end result? A near carbon copy of Willis in his younger days. Gordon-Levitt claimed that the similarities were so striking that both he and Willis were a bit freaked out.
6. Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
In the role that won her Best Supporting Actress plums at the Golden Globes and the Oscars, Anne Hathaway certainly went out of her way to prepare rigorously so that she could play the tragic Fantine in the film Les Miserables effectively. For the role, she had to lose plenty of weight to give off the impression of being a gaunt and starving lady of the streets. Then a scene in the movie showed a co-star chopping off Hathaway’s beautiful brown locks with a razor blade and it was revealed that the action was real—her actual hair had been cut off right then and there, in front of the camera. She spent the rest of the movie meandering around in a really horrible boy’s haircut.
5. Cameron Diaz (Being John Malkovich)
The leggy and beautiful Cameron Diaz certainly caused a stir when she broke into the Hollywood scene opposite Jim Carrey in the dark comedy film The Mask. Since then, she’s been known to play roles where she gets to flaunt her well-toned body and famous shapely gams, but in the 1999 film Being John Malkovich, Diaz went against type and played a homely woman named Lotte. She was barely recognizable, with a face sans make up and a mousy mop of hair.
4. Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted)
The role that catapulted Angelina Jolie to stardom was Girl, Interrupted, where she played troubled sociopath Lisa Rowe opposite Winona Ryder and the late Brittany Murphy. The then unknown Jolie received rave reviews for her performance, garnering her an Academy Award and the rest, as they say, is history. For the role, the naturally beautiful actress dyed her gorgeous brown locks to a dull blonde color and ensured her hair looked as washed out and stringy as possible. Throw in the dark circles under her red-rimmed eyes and deathly pale skin, Jolie certainly got her character’s physical appearance down pat.
3. Salma Hayek (Frida)
A testament to Salma Hayek’s beauty is that no matter how much make-up they used on her in the film Frida, her good looks (and acting chops) still shone through. Playing the surrealist Mexican painter and feminist Frida Kahlo was a fantastic career move for Hayek because her performance garnered her rave reviews and an Academy Award nomination. She was able to portray the artist with much aplomb, including altering her physical appearance with a uni-brow and a female mustache.
2. Vanessa Hudgens (Gimme Shelter)
The film Gimme Shelter may have been a major box office flop, but don’t let it be said that Vanessa Hudgens didn’t passionately throw herself into the role of Apple, a pregnant teenager who wanted to get away from her abusive mother. In preparation for the part, Hudgens, whose beauty and lithe frame are constantly on display in her social media posts, gained 15 pounds, cut her long, flowing locks into an unflattering style, and didn’t bother to take care of herself to make her truly look like she was going through hell.
1. Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, The Lone Ranger, Into The Woods, and more)
If there’s any actor who’s an expert at changing up his appearance for the sake of a role, it’s Johnny Depp. Ever since he donned the monster-like look with scissors for hands in the film Edward Scissorhands, Depp has accepted quirky roles that have required him to drastically alter the way he looks. He just makes use of a truckload of make-up, the occasional contact lenses to change his eye color, outrageous wigs, and stranger than strange outfits. His roles have cemented his place in Hollywood as one of its most versatile actors.