Sometimes when you watch a film, you don’t even realize that one of your favorite celebrities was in it until you see their name in the credits at the very end! There are certain celebrities who transform themselves all the time for roles. You may recognize them in one film, and then see them in another without having any clue as to who they are.
It’s truly incredible what makeup artists and costume designers are capable of doing these days. They can take a famous actor and turn them into a character that you would never expect. Furthermore, some actors refer to themselves as “method actors.” If their character needs to be heavy for a role, they will gain a ton of weight on purpose! If they need to be skinny, they’ll go on an extreme diet.
On the other hand, some celebs like to play essentially the same role over and over again. When you see them on screen, you instantly know who they are, and the characters they play all seem familiar. So, which actors are like chameleons who can appear totally different? Here are the celebs who change the most for roles—and the celebs who don’t.
20 Transformed The Most: Christian Bale
You probably know Christian Bale for his role in The Dark Knight trilogy, in which he starred as Batman. His acting ability is obviously incredible—who else could capture the spirit of such an iconic character that people have known and loved for decades?—but his ability to transform himself is just as amazing. For the Batman films, he actually had to gain 100 pounds! Now, you may be wondering how little he weighed before. Well, before playing Batman, Bale was playing the lead character, Trevor Reznik, in the film, The Machinist. Trevor was an emaciated insomniac who was tortured by his psychological problems. Bale went on an extreme diet for four months before the film, and he said that he would typically eat only apples, coffee, and water on a daily basis. We can’t imagine how harsh this must have been on his body—he looked like a different man.
19 Won't Change: Sofia Vergara
You probably know Sofia Vergara for her role on the hit series, Modern Family. This is the show that really brought Sofia to fame—maybe that’s why she continues to play similar roles over and over again! Sofia began her career as a model, but eventually, she began working on TV shows. In Modern Family, Sofia plays the character Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, a Latina woman who married into a white family and has had to adjust to life in America. Although she is definitely a funny character, she also has some very serious moments on the show, where she brings up racism and stereotyping. Sofia has totally embraced her role as the funny Latina woman and says that she loves playing this type of character. She likes to bring a little more diversity to the screen, and she never holds back! She has been nominated for several awards for her portrayal of Gloria.
18 Transformed The Most: Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy might be the closest thing to a human chameleon that Hollywood has to offer. This man has played such a huge variety of roles that it is truly impossible to typecast him. In fact, most of the time when he appears in a film, you won’t even notice it until his name rolls across the screen, and you end up asking, “Wait, that was seriously Tom Hardy? No way.” Tom played a supporting role in The Revenant, where he looked like a true man of the wilderness, as well as the title character of Max in the latest Mad Max film, Fury Road. But he went through a serious transformation in order to play the character Bane in The Dark Knight trilogy. He had to add 30 pounds of muscle, so for four months, he did four strength training sessions per day! That is so intense and impressive.
17 Won't Change: Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl just has a face for romantic comedies. Now, you may be aware that she has a pretty bad reputation in Hollywood these days because she is reputedly very demanding and difficult to work with on set, but a few years ago, her face was all over our screens. She played lots of women who ended up in crazy relationships. Let’s take a look at some of her most popular roles in this genre. She appeared in films like Knocked Up, 27 Dresses, The Big Wedding, and New Year’s Eve. Now, it’s not like these roles were going to be nominated for Oscars—the romantic comedy genre doesn’t always get that kind of recognition—but you have to admit that Katherine had a certain talent specifically for the type of role she played in this film genre. This woman was just born to star in romcoms.
16 Transformed The Most: Rob McElhenney
If you’re a big fan of the comedy television series, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you definitely know who Rob McElhenney is! Rob plays Mac, one of the main characters. Mac is absolutely hilarious, and Rob’s natural comedic abilities shine through in this role. His character has some of the funniest lines in every episode! During one season of the show, the cast—who are also the producers and writers for the series—decided that it would be hilarious if Mac gained a ton of weight out of the blue. Rob could have worn a fat suit, but he decided to go for it and gain 50 pounds on his own! His wife, Kaitlin Olson, who plays Dee Reynolds on the show, was so worried about his health, but she knew she couldn’t stop him! Rob gained 50 pounds, and when the gag was over, he had to lose all the weight!
15 Won't Change: Keira Knightley
We all fell in love with Keira Knightley way back in the early 2000's, when she played Elizabeth Swann in the very first Pirates of the Caribbean film. Since then, Keira has appeared in other films in the franchise, as well as many other movies. But all of her roles seem strangely familiar—which she is totally aware of. Keira is usually acting in period drama, where she plays a character from centuries ago. Many of her characters are royal women. No wonder casting directors are always giving her these roles—she is a classic beauty, and who else could rock a corset like Keira? She has appeared in period dramas such as Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, Silk, The Duchess, and Anna Karenina. The fact that she has a lovely English actress certainly doesn’t hurt her in this genre! She really looks like she was born in the wrong generation.
14 Transformed The Most: Matt Damon
There have been plenty of movies starring Matt Damon where he simply looks like himself—you know, a pretty regular guy overall. But don’t underestimate this actor’s ability to completely transform himself for the sake of a role. Just look at his work in Elysium to see how he has changed to play certain characters. For this science fiction film, in which he played the character, Max da Costa, he had to shave his head, have fake tattoos, and work out for four hours per day doing strength training in order to get the right look. He also had to go on a strict diet in order to lose fat and build muscle. He said that this diet made him very grumpy on set because he wanted to eat everything in sight! He also said that since he’s older now, he doesn’t want to diet for roles.
13 Won't Change: Will Smith
Will Smith has been in countless films over the past couple decades—how could we say that he plays the same role over and over again? Well, here’s the funny thing about Will and the characters he plays. Yes, the plots of the films that he appears in may be very different from each other, but many of his characters still have lots of similarities in their appearances and personalities. For example, Will has starred in movies like I Am Legend, I, Robot, Bright, and Suicide Squad. In all of these films, he is playing a character who has to step up and save the day. They are suspenseful, dramatic films, and he is never playing supporting roles—he’s always playing a leading man! He always looks like himself. He plays other types of roles as well, but the feature role in a thriller who swoops in to save the world is his thing.
12 Transformed The Most: Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey has played a huge variety of roles over the course of his career. But it was his part in the award-winning film, Dallas Buyer’s Club, that really showcased his ability to completely transform into the character he was playing. The film takes place during the AIDS crisis in the 1980's, and Matthew played a man who is struggling with the disease and searching desperately for a cure. He needed to look sick, unhealthy, and emaciated, so he lost 47 pounds to play the role. He says that he tried to do it “in the healthiest way possible” by meeting with a nutritionist to form a weight loss plan—but he also admits to chewing a ton of ice to curb his cravings, which can be a sign of a nutrient deficiency. He says that he was surprised by how much energy he still had while shooting.
11 Won't Change: Jennifer Aniston
We all know and love Jennifer Aniston, but we’ve got to admit, this actress basically plays the same role over and over again! But we can’t blame her because she’s so good at what she does—why would she want to change? Jennifer really stole our hearts when she played Rachel on the show, Friends, one of the most popular and influential sitcoms of all time. We all watched in anticipation to see if she and Ross would ever get together. After Friends ended, Jennifer took on many similar roles. She often appeared in romantic comedies where her character ended up in “will they won’t they” scenarios. She makes us laugh, she makes us cry, and she makes us wish that Friends would come back for an epic reunion season! She is great at playing “the girl next door” who ends up getting the guy in the most romantic and dramatic way possible.
10 Transformed The Most: Rooney Mara
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was one of the most anticipated films of the year when it was released. After all, the book series that it was based on was such a huge hit that millions of people had high hopes for the film. Who would be taking on the role of Lisbeth Salander, the “antiheroine” of the story? That would be Rooney Mara, who had to change her wholesome appearance to look like a little more punk rock instead. She had to cut her hair short, dye it black, and spike it. She got several facial piercings. Her makeup for filming was dark and heavy—she always had thick black eyeliner and pale foundation on. When she made appearances at red carpet events, you wouldn't recognize her as the girl who was playing fresh-faced supporting roles only months before. She was totally dedicated to this role and practically became a new woman.
9 Won't Change: Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy is so undeniably funny. She had her big break in the comedy, Bridesmaids, which proved once and for all that women are hilarious (duh, we always knew), and that yes, millions of people will happily pay to see a female-fronted comedy movie. Bridesmaids was a huge blockbuster hit that had everyone in the theaters dying of laughter. While Melissa is super talented and could probably take on many different roles, she has stuck to playing the funny friend who sticks around for comic relief and gives the main characters a little tough love when they need it. Aside from playing Megan Price in Bridesmaids (which earned her an Oscar nomination), she has also played supporting roles in films like Identify Thief, The Heat, and The Nines. She has also landed feature roles in a few other movies, like the Ghostbusters remake, The Boss, and Spy, which earned her a Golden Globe.
8 Transformed The Most: Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron is known for playing many different characters, but she definitely has a knack for playing glamorous and strong female characters. However, things took a turn when she had to completely transform herself for her powerful role in the film, Monster. She won a ton of awards for her work in this film, including a Golden Globe and an Oscar! So, what did this role entail? Charlize was playing a criminal named Aileen Wuornos, who was actually a real person. Charlize studied her life and her appearance when she committed to the role. She gained weight and completely took on this character, looking unrecognizable on screen. Some film critics were so enthralled by her portrayal of Aileen that they said it was one of the best performances in the history of cinema. Wow, that’s some serious praise! Clearly, her efforts to transform herself paid off in a big way.
7 Won't Change: Jason Bateman
Jason Bateman is the master at playing “the typical, white, straight man.” No, this doesn’t just mean a guy who dates women. In comedies, most of the characters are zany, off the wall, and constantly getting into trouble. There is often a “straight man” (or it could be a woman) character thrown into the mix to balance them out! Basically, the straight man is the normal guy in the cast that the audience can relate to. He’s the character that is bringing all of the others back down to earth, telling them their little schemes won’t work and cleaning up after everyone else. Just think about Jason’s character in the comedy series, Arrested Development, Michael Bluth. His formerly wealthy family is full of crazy people who have no idea how to handle going bankrupt, so he has to be the responsible one who gets them back on track and pulls their lives back together.
6 Transformed The Most: Robert DeNiro
Robert de Niro is a pretty recognizable actor, right? How could he appear on screen without you noticing exactly who it was? Well, if you have seen the film, Raging Bull, you know exactly how well Robert can transform for a role! It’s truly incredible to see. For this film, he was playing a retired boxer. Therefore, he had to seriously bulk up—but his goal wasn’t to build muscle. Nope, his character was retired, remember? Instead, his goal was to look like a guy who used to be in great shape but had since let himself go. In order to do this, he traveled all over Europe eating as much fine cheese, delicious pasta, and scoops of gelato as he wanted! Then he would return to the set to film. He says that he would tire easily on set because his diet was not giving him the energy he needed.
5 Won't Change: Michael Cera
Interestingly enough, Michael Cera also appeared in the series, Arrested Development—playing the same type of character that he always does! Ever since Michael began playing his first roles in Hollywood, directors had him typecast. He always plays the socially awkward guy who is constantly putting his foot in his mouth. And he does it so well that we can’t help but wonder if these portrayals are inspired by personal experience! In Arrested Development, he plays George Michael, who has no idea to deal with dating. He is basically your typical clueless high schooler. He has played similar characters in films like Scott Pilgrim, Juno, and Superbad. He also appeared in the film, This is the End, playing himself, where he made fun of this type of role. One thing is for certain—we have all felt like Michael Cera’s characters at one time or another!
4 Transformed The Most: Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe used to be in great shape, and he was known for playing roles that showcased this. So when the time came to play a different type of role, would he be able to handle the challenge? He proved that the answer was yes. When Russell was brought on to play Ed Hoffman in the film, Body of Lies, he found out that he would have to gain a ton of weight in order to portray his character properly. Russell went on gain about 63 pounds by eating an extremely unhealthy diet for months—fries, donuts, ice cream, cheeseburgers, you name it. He said that when it was finally time to film, he was having trouble standing to get out of his car because he was not used to carrying around so much extra weight. After shooting was over, he hired a nutritionist to get him back in shape again.
3 Won't Change: Morgan Freeman
If you think of Morgan Freeman’s voice as the voice of God, you are definitely not alone! Morgan Freeman has actually played the character of “God” in several movies, which now means that people basically think he has an actual connection to the divine. How else could he pull it off so well? All jokes aside, this type of character has become Morgan’s forte over the past decade or so. This is because he has such a soothing and authoritative voice—he can narrate a documentary like nobody’s business, and he always sounds like he knows exactly what he’s talking about. He has literally played God in the film, Bruce Almighty, but aside from that, he is also known for playing wise, fatherly characters. He just has a way of speaking that makes you trust and respect whatever he is saying, which makes him perfect for this type of role.
2 Transformed The Most: Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman is widely known for playing Wolverine in the X-Men film series. Wolverine is a formidable character—you definitely wouldn’t want to come up against him in a fight! In the earlier X-Men films, Hugh was definitely in great shape, but as he got older, he actually stepped up his training. Most men would have slowed down, but not Hugh—he was that dedicated to this role. How did he do it? He began working with professional Muay Thai trainers. Hugh is now totally ripped. He is in the best shape of his life, and he did not slack off his training just because of his age. Nope, he worked harder than ever to bulk up his muscles. He truly looks indestructible—who knows, maybe he really does have Wolverine’s special powers. He had to be very careful about his macros while training, and he followed a regimen called “carb cycling.”
1 Won't Change: Danny Trejo
Did you love the movie, Spy Kids, when you were younger? Hey, we’re not judging if you still love it now. If you’ve seen the movie, you definitely remember the character, Machete, played the iconic actor, Danny Trejo. What makes him iconic? From his early days as an actor, he embraced a specific character type and went on to play it so well that we totally understand why he decided not to branch out. He almost always plays a tough-talking villain or some kind of “antihero”—he may not be the typical hero, but he’ll try to do something good even as he’s screwing up. He might even swoop in at the last minute to save the day. He also plays characters that are often described as “thugs” or “lowlifes,” and he draws inspiration from his life before fame, when he was in and out of prison for years.