There’s something about television that’s completely unique. An actor can vanish into a role quite well to the point where fans have a hard time telling them apart from their real lives. Even a lady who goes through several roles can still be identified by what she plays on TV.
That’s true for ladies who play “homely” characters as well, since Hollywood’s standards for beauty are different. TV, after all, has cops and doctors who look like supermodels and thus it's harder to judge actress's who have little difference on screen than off. But sometimes, it can happen. A lady really can make herself over for a show to the point where fans can be surprised at how different she is – sometimes getting way hotter.
Of course, some can argue that it's the character who is much hotter, especially one inclined to doing sexy stuff on screen. Obviously, many a teen star has shifted thanks to magazine spreads showing them grown up. But an adult actress can be the same as quite a few side characters have broken out by showing off a lot.
It’s fun to think about, as even some gorgeous actresses can look far, far better in character than out of it. Sometimes it’s the outfits, other times the setting or the personas to get the fans going for them more on screen. Yet it’s impressive how some ladies look much hotter off camera with their looks and sexiness that blows you away. It’s odd but still notable how some ladies are better on camera than off and vice versa. Here are 10 TV starlets who are much hotter in character and 10 we prefer out of them to remind you how fascinating and powerful beauty can be.
20 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Melissa Benoist
Melissa Benoist first got attention for her brief role in the first season of the Emmy-winning Homeland as a young woman trying to get with a rich foreigner. This included a memorable topless scene to show herself off. She then rose up as Marley on Glee, showing a great singing voice amid dance routines. Benoist seemed an odd choice to play the Girl of Steel but has silenced all her doubters. While nice in person, Benoist just comes alive on the show, fitting the suit perfectly and capturing Kara wonderfully. She has had some fun stuff, everything from Kara briefly turned evil (and hotter) to even a musical episode to impress folks.
Ironically, many think Benoist is hotter in her civilian identity as Kara. Her work with glasses and ponytail is adorkable but funny and makes her so relatable. It’s fun how much Benoist puts into the part to make her role on screen soar in terms of sexiness as well as power.
19 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: Naomi Grossman
Some makeup jobs are impressive. But this is just mind-blowing. The second season of American Horror Story was named Asylum, naturally focusing on a mental institution. Among the inmates was Pepper, a horribly ugly woman with microcephalic, making her look like a grown-up child. Almost bald with hair done up, huge teeth, ears and cheeks and often mumbling, she looked like a freak. Indeed, it made total sense she returned in the fourth season, Freak Show, as part of this circus of creeps. It’s sadder as her backstory reveals she was a good person unfairly framed for a child’s death because of her appearance and thus everyone considers her a monster when she has a beautiful heart.
What makes it remarkable is that actress Naomi Grossman looks almost nothing like the character. True, she says her teeth are a bit much but her face is absolutely gorgeous with a lovely closed-lip smile. It’s stunning when she’s on the red carpet for a premiere and fans can’t realize who she actually is. The way Grossman vanishes into the role is more amazing than any supernatural aspect of the show to blow fans away majorly.
18 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Laura Prepon
Laura Prepon first turned heads as Jackie on That ‘70s Show. With her lush mane of red hair and lovely features, she was the perfect tomboy turned knockout and proved it well with her role in the hit comedy. After a long time off, Prepon has come back to prominence as Alex on Orange is the New Black. Something about the part just looks so much hotter than Prepon in person. It’s the lush black hair; the glasses she chews on, her sexy smirk and eyebrow raise; and that arm tattoo. It’s notable given how Alex is frankly a horrible person, amazingly selfish and a borderline sociopath who doesn’t seem to care about her damage. It helps how she and Piper get into some very risqué scenes from a shower to hooking up in a cell or even laundry room to show off. It’s not like Prepon wasn’t hot already but she really has shined here to make Alex one of the hotter reasons to want a jail stay.
17 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: Thesy Surface
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia centers around quite probably the worst group of people in the City of Brotherly Love. They are twisted, dark and are pretty much sociopaths, yet hang around together under the impression they’re a downtrodden pack of good people. A big part of the show is their rivalry with a family of absolute nutjobs and downright freaks called the McPoyle’s. Among them is Margaret, a horribly ugly woman who never speaks but is always licking her lips, a twisted nose, horrible teeth and even hair on her face. She’s trying to get with the guys of the bar but even they have some standards and are disgusted by her.
When Thesy Surface tells people she plays Margaret, the usual reaction is absolute shock. The woman is drop-dead stunning with a flawlessly beautiful face, lush hair and a bright smile. The makeup job is award-worthy as Surface looks absolutely nothing like her character and carries herself well. It’s no secret that many would prefer Thesy over Margaret in any city to show off nicely.
16 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Danielle Panabaker
Danielle Panabaker had been a TV vet for a while with roles in Shark and various other shows. The Flash has offered her the biggest role as Caitlin Snow, the genius tech helper for the hero. From the start, fans were curious as in the comics, Caitlin becomes the evil Killer Frost. It was first teased and then in the second season, we got the Caitlin of an alternate Earth who was Frost. Panabaker clearly loved the part, showing off in a tight outfit with white hair and blue lips. A great bit was Frost meeting Caitlin and taking shots on her downplaying her looks (“why hide the twins?”). Frost was killed off but fans wanted more of her.
So in season three, thanks to some time travel nuttiness, Caitlin got ice powers as well. She fought them but eventually turned to Frost, fighting the Flash before redeeming herself. The current season has her wrestling with controlling her powers and somehow, Pannabaker just looks so much hotter as Frost with the outfit and her look and thus ironically, being this icy lady makes Panabaker red-hot sexy.
15 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: Gwendoline Christie
When the producers of Game of Thrones came to casting the character of Brienne of Tarth, they faced a challenge. How many actresses are there who are over six feet tall and able to be believable as tough warriors? As it happened, Gwendoline Christie fit that quite well. The character is meant to be rather unattractive, complete with a broken nose and some scarring but that’s downplayed on the show. If anything, it showcases how Christie is truly sexy at times, including a bath scene. Yet, it’s the fact she’s a total bad-ass in combat that makes her even hotter. Christie, meanwhile, looks stunning on any red carpet, her height helping her stand out taller than her cast mates and truly glamorous when she tries. She’s added to it with roles like Captain Phasma in the Star Wars films and striking in her own magazine spreads. A clear case of the actress hotter than the role and standing quite tall in her beauty.
14 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Maggie Q
There’s something about a woman able to wickedly kick ass that gets you going. Maggie Q grew up in Hawaii with an exotic look to herself that lent well to movies like Live Free or Die Hard and Mission Impossible III. She had good skills and took well to fight training. That made her perfect for the title role in the CW reboot of Nikita. The ads loved to show Maggie in hot dresses and weapons, emphasizing her beautiful looks alongside some terrific skills. It helped the show be a hit and Maggie standing out. She had the short-lived CBS drama Stalker but is back on networks in Designated Survivor.
As Hannah Wells, she’s an FBI agent tracking who is behind the conspiracy that blew up the Capitol building. Maggie Q shows nicely with Hannah in street clothes yet an undeniable heat around her. She’s able to withstand torture yet kick some major tail and never giving up. The latest episodes have turned up the heat with Hannah having a very steamy hook-up with a British agent. She may not doff it much but the heat Maggie has in her action scenes make her even hotter on screen.
13 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: Ariel Winter
From the start, Modern Family has focused on how Alex is the smartest person in her family. While her brother and sister aren’t quite that bright, Alex is a genius yet smartly the series shows she can be as whacky in some ways as the rest of her family. She’s meant to be in Haley’s shadow in terms of sexiness with glasses, dark hair and non-flattering outfits. But as the series has continued, Ariel Winter has grown up very nicely into a woman much hotter than co-star Sarah Hyland. Indeed, Winter needed a breast reduction yet her chest seems to strain against any top she wears. On the red carpet, Winter drops jaws with her outfits, including wearing a hot dress to a network meeting and more. Even her regular outfits are amazing to see, the woman standing out brilliantly and her Instagram posts can nearly crack the Internet. If there’s one woman far hotter in person than her character, it’s Winter who shines in any season.
12 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Katie Cassidy
Katie Cassidy has a great beauty to her as well as a terrific flair for playing nasty characters. She broke out as the demonic Ruby on Supernatural and then one of the best parts of the short-lived revival of Melrose Place. On Arrow, she started off as Laurel Lance, the attorney and former love of the main hero Oliver Queen. Her arcs were interesting, including a stint of drinking and shown to be rather bratty. However, when she learned Oliver’s secret, she got better especially when she trained herself to become the new Black Canary. Cassidy was great in the leather outfit and showed off well so fans were upset when she was killed off.
But Cassidy has returned to the show as Black Siren, Laurel’s evil super-powered double from another Earth. If anything, Cassidy is hotter than ever in the great outfit with a long cloak, nice hair and seems to relish playing the villain. She sparks up every scene she’s in, to the point the character is a regular and fans loving it. Cassidy is great off screen but seeing her get her wicked villainess on makes her even hotter on the show.
11 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: Taryn Manning
On Orange Is the New Black, Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett is among the more fascinating characters. She appears a true Christian type, often with a holier-than-thou attitude to her fellow inmates despite her own dark issues. Flashbacks reveal she killed an abortion doctor for making a snide remark about her many operations. This led to a pro-life group pushing her defense and she thus adopted this “religious” outlook to help the act. That makes her a massive hypocrite on top of all else as she tangles with the various ladies. She’s notable for being incredibly unattractive with buck teeth and stringy hair, clearly, her inner ugliness coming to the fore.
Which is astounding as off-screen Tayrn Manning is drop-dead gorgeous. The lovely blonde had popped up in various shows like Hawaii Five-O and Sons of Anarchy. Magazine spreads show her in nice outfits with terrific legs and bright smile and it’s remarkable how much she transforms into the role. Indeed, Manning has laughed on how she’s had to explain to people who she plays on the show and only when they hear the accent do they believe it as she vanishes into this part so well.
10 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Elizabeth Gillies
Something about Elizabeth Gillies lends herself to playing a “rhymes with witch” a lot. She started off as Jade on Victorious, a tough-talking goth in dark outfits and sardonic lines to show a wicked edge. That led her to the comedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll where she showed a great style off, including a stunning red swimsuit. Currently, Gillies stars in Dynasty, a CW reboot of the classic 1980s soap. As Fallon Carrington, she kicks it off dressed like a flight attendant and a hot “drive” with her stud of a limo driver. Fallon is a wicked schemer out for herself and having multiple hook-ups. Helping is a fantastic wardrobe of sexy outfits flaunting Gillies’ impressive chest and nice legs. Her lush dark hair and pouty lips are seemingly always with a sexy smirk, which also aids her persona. The show has been a surprising success but maybe that shouldn’t be shocking as Gillies is hot off screen but in any character makes herself stand out for one of the hotter ladies around.
9 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: Melissa Rauch
This is a pretty obvious pick but still very notable. The Big Bang Theory started out with the idea of a group of male nerds handling their gorgeous neighbor, played by Kaley Cuoco. However, many feel the show really clicked once it expanded the women a bit more. Melissa Rauch had a minor role at first as Bernadette, a co-worker of Penny’s at the Cheesecake Factory. She began clicking and soon became a regular with her own work at a bio-lab. With her high voice and glasses, Bernadette was soon a favorite, especially her relationship with Howard that led to marriage. She could show off a bit on the show in costumes and such. However, Rauch has proven herself much hotter off camera. Her spreads in various magazines show a fantastic full-figured body and lush hair and her nice voice is better in person. Some might cite her even hotter than Cuoco and a clear case of a “TV nerd” who’s much more a knockout in person.
8 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Rose McIver
The New Zealand actress got her break as Yellow Ranger Summer on Power Rangers RPM, showing off in a nice leather jacket and jeans for action stuff. She also had a recurring part as Tinkerbell on Once Upon a Time, making a gold outfit and wings work for her. McIver then showed off (and then some) on the Showtime series Masters of Sex. Currently, McIver stars in the CW’s surprise success iZombie. She plays Liv Moore, turned into a zombie by a freak incident who eats the brains of murder victims at the morgue she works at. This has her getting flashes of their personalities and memories that she uses to solve their murders. The show has allowed McIver a great showcase for Liv’s personas from dressing in nothing but tape for a frat party to taking on the role of dominatrix and giving her friend a lap dance.
Despite her white skin and hair, McIver is truly lovely as Liv, aided by the often sexy personas she takes on. One arc has Liv using makeup to look more “normal” and McIver joked it took “longer for them to make me look like myself than it does for Liv!” Fans love seeing which persona Liv takes on next as McIver manages to make being dead look oh so good.
7 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: Amy Acker
It’s amazing how a woman so hot in person keeps getting cast as “beanpole nerd” types. Amy Acker broke out as Fred on Angel, starting off as a cave-dwelling withdrawn woman. She grew with the show into somewhat hotter in nice dresses but still mostly the tech helper. Acker did get to show off a sexier side with the wild plot twist of her taken over by a goddess in a leather outfit. Acker moved onto roles in the likes of Alias, Dollhouse and then the nutcase hacker Root on Person of Interest which also showed a hotter side to herself.
Right now, Acker stars on Fox’s The Gifted as the mom to a pair of mutant twins. This has her in regular clothes, mostly on the sidelines helping folks heal and caring for her kids. Yet playing a “mom role” does nothing to hide Acker’s heat as she’s shown off very nicely in magazine spreads with stunning legs and curves. Some can dismiss her as a “beanpole” but Acker’s lush eyes and adorable accent prove the quiet gals can make the most noise.
6 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Tatiana Maslany
In this case, the question might well be “which character?” When Orphan Black began, fans were intrigued by its idea of a woman who discovers she’s one of several clones who are hunted by a conspiracy. For five seasons, fans were enthralled by the storytelling, clever writing, and amazing characters. Of course, the push was that all the clones were played brilliantly by one actress. Tatiana Maslany has turned in what many hail as one of the greatest performances in television history. She manages to make each clone so distinctive that you can honestly buy that they’re different actresses due to how real it feels.
Each lady has her own heat. Sarah is in the leather outfits, bisexual and a hot British accent; Allison is a tense housewife but can dance in her underwear with a kinky side; Cosima is a quirky scientist whose love affair with Delphine is stunningly emotional; Helena is a lunatic yet also intriguing with her light hair and tattoos; and Rachel is a cold woman who can be quite dominating. That’s not to mention a few others and each one has Maslany showing off various types of sexiness. The woman won an Emmy for her roles and while good in interviews, the fact she brought so many hot ladies to life should be noted.
5 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: Tina Fey
There’s something about this woman that’s amazing. Funny as hell helps but Tina Fey also has shown a much sexier side than some give credit for. After breaking out on Saturday Night Live, Fey moved on to write, produce and star in 30 Rock, a comedy about a sketch comedy show on NBC. Fey has acknowledged that Liz Lemon is basically “me taken to the tenth level” as a goofball geek writer. The genius of the show is Liz acting like she’s the only sane person around when she’s really as crazy as the rest of the bunch and Fey clearly loved showing her flaws off. Fey, meanwhile, would show off a very hot side to herself in magazines, a great body that she hid on the show under frumpy clothes and gorgeous without the glasses. While Liz could be a looker, Fey could really turn heads, showing it in some movies and proving that quite a few “geeks” can be much hotter than they seem.
4 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Lana Parrilla
It’s the outfits. To so many, the true heart of ABC’s fantasy series has been Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills aka the Evil Queen. Her journey has been amazing as she started out the series as a full-on cold-blooded villainess. But as it’s gone on, Regina has slowly evolved to a better person and even a hero, haunted by her dark past but ready to come out better despite it. In flashbacks, she’s given a series of wild dresses that flaunt her incredible beauty and even show off a nice body at times. Parrilla laughs at how much of a pain they can be but they help bring Regina’s character to her and enjoys them. The latest season has added in touches like leather outfits more form-fitting and even Regina’s “regular” wear can be very fashionable.
A twist to the latest season has Regina under a spell to believe she’s bartender Roni. Thus, Parrilla gets to go around in some nice tight jeans and tank top to show a sexier side to herself. No matter her persona, Parilla just looks astounding on the show, even more than in real life to make this Queen a regal presence.
3 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: Elisabeth Moss
It still amazes so many fans that for the entire run of Mad Men, the only actor to win an Emmy was Jon Hamm…and he had to wait for the final season to do it. To many, the only other person as deserving was Elisabeth Moss who started off as the mousy Peggy but as the series wore on, showed a hotter side to herself. She could get some kinky stuff and her final run of episodes was good. Moss moved onto the New Zealand drama Top of the Lake which also had her doing some nude scenes and a good accent.
Currently, Moss is winning the best hail of her career with The Handmaid’s Tale. Hulu’s take on the nightmarish novel has Moss as a woman in a dystopian future where females are basically cattle for breeding. Naturally, she doesn’t show off much and when she does, it’s in dark scenes, usually dressed in robes and brutal stuff. It’s won Moss her long-deserved Emmy and at the ceremony, she stunned in a gown with no bra, showing her lovely form off well. This is obvious for a woman hotter than her role but only Moss can put some glamour in this dark show and shine well off camera.
2 HOTTER IN CHARACTER: Alison Brie
Alison Brie has specialized in being hotter off-screen than her characters in most regards. She broke out as Trudy, the tied-together wife on Mad Men that was a good supporting character. That led to her part as Annie on the comedy Community, brilliant as this seemingly well-put-together woman who turns out to be as much a wild nutcase as the rest of her bunch. But Brie has really breaking out with her starring role in the Netflix series GLOW. Set in the 1980s, she’s a would-be actress who’s pulled into taking part in a women’s wrestling show. The first episode showcases Brie, including a hot love scene and the wild twist of how she’s sleeping with her best friend’s husband. It takes a lot to look great in 1980s fashion and the huge hair but Brie pulls it off (it helps with her in the spandex outfits) and making this character very sexy. She’s always hotter than she looks but Brie shows that there’s sexiness to that decade that she brings to life.
1 HOTTER OUT OF CHARACTER: America Ferrera
It’s still absolutely astounding how much she transformed. America Ferrera had always been bouncing around TV and some movies, usually as the chubby kid on the side. Her biggest role was in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants which emphasized how she was the “loser” of the group. In 2006, Ferrera was cast as the lead in Ugly Betty, a surprise hit for ABC. She was buried under glasses and braces as well as wild outfits to emphasize her as unattractive in her fashion magazine world although her charm clearly carried through. What made it wilder was that off-screen Ferrera was absolutely gorgeous and even stunningly sexy. She proved that by showing up in a gorgeous gown to accept both a Golden Globe and Emmy for the show.
Ferrera has kept it up with roles on The Good Wife and currently starring in the NBC show Superstore. She remains gorgeous off-screen and showing she deserved those awards for being anywhere near ugly on screen.
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