When it comes to acting, sometimes “getting into character,” involves a lot more than a change in perspective. At its very core, acting involves taking on the life and mind of another person, real or fictional. To do this, actors can read (and reread) scripts, relevant literature, and visit the character’s place of origin. Then, the actor can incorporate accents, mannerisms, and expressions commonly used or attributed to a specific character. This truly is how movies are made and how acting awards are won.
Depending on the character, sometimes, actors don’t have to change much at all. Will Ferrell and his character in Step Brothers comes to mind. Other times, actors have to transform into someone completely different. Many actors attribute success in challenging or controversial roles to “method acting” which involves abandoning one’s own personality to take on the persona of someone else. What if one has to do this physically, as well?
With advances in technology, film editing, and makeup, actors’ on-screen transformations are getting increasingly dramatic. Some actors are virtually unrecognizable in some of their most famous (and often awarded) movie roles. Here, we remember some of the most transformative acting gigs in Hollywood.
15 Heath Ledger as The Joker - The Dark Knight
14 John Travolta as Edna Turnblad - Hairspray
13 Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe - Looper
12 Emma Thompson as Nanny McPhee - Nanny McPhee
11 Tom Cruise as Les Grossman - Tropic Thunder
10 Vanessa Hudgens as Apple - Gimme Shelter
9 Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger - Black Mass
8 Gary Oldman as Mason Verger - Hannibal
7 Jim Carrey as The Grinch - How the Grinch Stole Christmas
6 John Leguizamo as Clown - Spawn
5 Nick Stahl as Yellow Bastard - Sin City
4 Gary Oldman as Dracula - Bram Stoker's Dracula
3 Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort - Harry Potter Franchise
2 Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook - Hook
1 Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos - Monster
This transformation is perhaps the most famous within the hot topic of “actors making themselves ugly to win awards.” Charlize Theron, undoubtedly known for her timeless, classic good looks, transformed into lesbian serial killer, Ailen Wuornos in the 2003 film. For the role, Theron gained thirty pounds on her usual athletic frame. In addition to the substantial weight gain, Theron wore prosthetic teeth, a fake receding hairline, and mysteriously missing eyebrows. Prior to this film, people probably would’ve bet money that even thirty pounds and really terrible hair couldn’t have made Theron undesirable, but she really did prove them wrong. After portraying the ugliest version of herself, Theron took home the Oscar for fooling us all.
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