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15 Celebs Who Look Like Completely Different People In Their Roles

As an actor, you have to make certain sacrifices. There are roles or parts one might take that require a bit of change. And, when we say a bit of change, we mean a completely different look that makes you almost unrecognizable.

Whether it's gaining weight, hours in the makeup chair, or "becoming someone else", to truly understand the role, the actor needs to transform into the character they're being asked to play.

Some actors find the transformation easy. Matt Damon once said that gaining as much weight as he did for his role in the film The Informant was disturbingly easy. He explained, all he had to do was eat like he did when he was in college. Others find the tasks incredibly hard. Demi Moore explained for her role in G.I. Jane, she didn't want to miss an opportunity to experience what the Navy Seals go through so she did the obstacle courses which were harder than almost anything she'd ever done.

Whatever the reason, actors are dedicated and many believe to play the part to the best of their ability, they need to live the life of the character they are playing. The experiences, the feelings, and the real-life drama is all a part of the "process". While there are many others, here are 15 Celebs Who Look Like Completely Different People In Their Roles.

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15 Cate Blanchett

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For her role in I'm Not There, Cate Blanchett plays Bob Dylan. Yes, Blanchette was cast as the male lead in this mid-sixties film. She was one of six actors who took turns playing the part. The others were Christian Bale, Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw, Richard Gere, and Heath Ledger (in his final appearance in a film before his death).

To turn the iconic and recognizable female superstar into one the greatest male musicians of all time, she was completely transformed with a wig, sunglasses and male clothes to play the Jude Quinn persona that represents Dylan's life as a rock and roll martyr. If you know it's Blanchett under the clothes then maybe you can tell but if you didn't, you'd probably spend her parts in the movie trying to figure out who you were watching.

14 Matthew McConaughey

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There have been a few actors who have had to lose some weight to play a part in a film. Perhaps no one did so like Christian Bale, who you'll see later in this list, but Matthew McConaughey comes a close second. The actor played the role of Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyer's Club.

Matthew McConaughey got down to 133 pounds to play an AIDS patient diagnosed in the mid-80's. To do so, McConaughey had a diet plan that only included egg whites, a Diet Coke and a piece of chicken a day. He wasn't the only one that changed for the role as Jared Leto was in the film and looked completely different as well.

You can see McConaughey's weight change for films in other movies too. In Wolf of Wall Street, he looked completely different and the actor isn't shy about shedding his iconic good looks for a part.

13 Tom Cruise

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In perhaps the most comedic of changes, Tom Cruise's cameo as a Hollywood producer in the film Tropic Thunder is, to some people, among Cruise's best work. It's only a small part but perhaps the most memorable of scenes from the film come when Cruise is on the screen and he gained a ton of respect from non-Tom Cruise fans for this part.

To play Les Grossman, he had to wear a fat suit, a bald cap and even prosthetic hands. You'd really have to know it was Cruise to realize that this overweight, middle-aged, and extremely potty-mouthed businessman was, in fact, the same guy who played the lead in Mission Impossible and a host of other action films. For this writer, it's the best thing Cruise has ever done.

12 Elle Fanning

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When Elle Fanning decided to take on the role of Ray in the film Three Generations, she was aware that playing the part of a transgender male for this new film was going to be a difficult task. Unfortunately, the film didn't receive wonderful reviews and a lowly score on Rotten Tomatoes perhaps suggests that the transformation, among other things, didn't go as smoothly as one might have hoped.

Fanning went out in public on a few occasions with her new look and it's hard to recognize her at first glance. She had darker and shorter hair, wore masculine clothing and the idea was to be as masculine as possible. The film and the reviews of it received some controversy as the subject of transgender people at the time was a touchy subject.

11 Charlize Theron

The way Charlize Theron tried to gain thirty pounds for her role as Aileen Wournos in Monster was to eat bags of chips and doughnuts. It led to her being very uncomfortable but she probably was happy to have made the sacrifice after she won her first and only Oscar in 2003.

She played a street worker who becomes a murderer and packed on the weight in only a few weeks and also had to shave her eyebrows and wear prosthetic teeth. Critics called her performance and makeup job a total "transformation" and her character was so far from the glamorous roles she's played in the past (and still does today) that you'd swear it was a different actress. This was one of the more successful appearance changes for a female in movie history.

10 Gwyneth Paltrow

via 20th Century Fox via Everett Collection/20th Century Fox
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Gwyneth Paltrow didn't actually have to physically change to play her role of the obese female lead in the film Shallow Hal. She was fortunate enough to be able to completely change her look with makeup and a fat suit. The transformation wasn't lost on Paltrow however.

She told W Magazine that when she had the suit on she realized how poorly people who were overweight are often treated. She said strangers would avoid her and she felt very isolated and alone. "The first day I tried {the fat suit} on, I was in the Tribeca Grand and I walked through the lobby. It was so sad; it was so disturbing. No one would make eye contact with me because I was obese." If you've seen the film (which is not a masterpiece by any means), you know how different Paltrow looked in the suit.

9 Ralph Fiennes

via Getty/Warner Bros.

One of the most popular film franchises of all time also had a ton of characters and transformations that are memorable. One of the most drastic changes was that of Ralph Fiennes, who played Lord Voldemort.

The usually debonaire British actor had to shave his head every day, he wore false fingernails, dentures and fake reptilian skin. It took more than three hours of make-up application every day to make the look work. When all was said and done, you'd have to read the credits to know it was Fiennes.

Fiennes told The Hollywood Reporter that his look was so different, evil and convincing, children would freak out or cry upon seeing him. "I felt very good about myself," Fiennes said. "Children should be really scared of Lord Voldemort."

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8 Rebecca Romijn

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The amount of time it took Rebecca Romijn to get into her full-body blue makeup was eight hours each day. Mystique is one of the more iconic comic book roles in film history and Romijn isn't the only actress to have played the part. Jennifer Lawrence also spent hours in the makeup chair.

The good news for Romijn and Lawrence is that as the days went by, the process got easier and easier. Romijn said in one interview, "We've got it down – we did it the other day in three-and-a-half hours, as opposed to the ten hours it was in the beginning".

Mystique is one of the sexier female comic roles in movie history and it takes a special female actress to pull it off. Clearly, both Romijn and Lawrence had the assets to play the part and there is still debate to this day as to who played the role better.

7 Jared Leto

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Jared Leto is known for changing himself and getting fully into character to play certain roles. From his parts in Dallas Buyer's Club to his role as the Joker in Suicide Squad, Leto has a reputation for not only changing his look but his personality in a major way.

For his role in Chapter 27, Leto gained 67 pounds to play John Lennon's assassin, Mark David Chapman. He said he was able to do so by eating all the things you know you shouldn't eat. From pizza to ice cream and tons of pasta, he said he got to one point where he had to melt the ice cream in the microwave and drink it.

The results are amazing and when you consider he's right back to his slim, model-looking self, you realize that he's got a ton of will power even if some people think he's a bit nuts.

6 John Travolta

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John Travolta is a dancing fool. In almost every movie he takes on, he's dancing around and he's become synonymous with parts that allow him to strut his stuff. So, when he took on the role of Edna Turnblad in the musical remake of Hairspray, it wasn't surprising to see how different he looked.

Not that Travolta has been slim in the past twenty years but to see John Travolta play a large and feisty woman he had to undergo tons of makeup that included a fat suit, a wig and a whole lot of makeup. Travolta was not the first man to play this female role as it's been tradition in the other versions of this play to have a male dress in drag to play the part. Travolta also knows musicals, having starred in Grease.

5 Christian Bale

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Christian Bale has become a legend in Hollywood for the transformations he's willing to make to land parts in movies. From his bulked-up portrayal of Bruce Wayne and Batman to his role as Irving Rosenfield, an overweight and balding con artist in American Hustle, there isn't much Bale isn't willing to do.

One of his scariest and perhaps most unhealthy transformations was for his role in The Machinist where he had to lose an incredible amount of weight. He was a literal skeleton of a human and completely unrecognizable to many of his co-stars. Then, once that film was done, he had to gain a ton of weight to play Batman. He gained too much and director Christopher Nolan, forced him to go back and lose some weight.

Bale has undergone so many weight gains and losses, his metabolism is probably completely and permanently messed up.

4 Robert De Niro

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In the history of film, there are a ton of great actors who have played professional boxers. But, none were as notable as one particular role that made boxing movies a hit. It was also a role that arguably put Robert De Niro on the board as one of Hollywood's most bankable movie stars.

It took a great deal of dedication to pull off his role as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. De Niro built muscle and trained with the legend himself, even competing in three legitimate boxing matches in an attempt to be as convincing as possible.

But, if you've seen the movie, you know that he also had to add 60 pounds in a dramatic body change that led to all sorts of real-life health issues.

3 Hilary Swank

via Associated Press/Fox Searchlight

Her role as Brandon in Boys Don't Cry made Hilary Swank a household name. When she chose to play the lead role as a transgendered teen in 1999, the whole idea was to use a relatively unknown actor and make her look very different. The idea worked extremely well as she won an Oscar for Best Actress.

In order to get herself ready for the role, Swank did a ton of research on transgender people and lived an entire month of her life before the film as a man. She cut her hair short, strapped down her chest and didn't act or refer to herself as female for over thirty days.

Swank isn't shy about playing roles that require a ton of transformation. She also played the role of Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby. 

2 50 Cent

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A survivor turned rapper, 50 Cent quickly became a huge hit in the music industry. He decided rap wasn't for him and took on acting, starring in films such as Get Rich or Die Tryin', Righteous Kill and he had smaller cameo roles in a number of other films. In 2010, 50 Cent shocked fans with a photo of himself looking unrecognizably skinny for his role in the movie All Things Fall Apart.

He lost 55 pounds for the role, drank mostly fluids instead of eating and worked out a ton, doing cardio like crazy to shed weight. He needed to lose the weight to play an ill football player. Three hours on the treadmill a day would make anyone almost unrecognizable. The 50 Cent of today is definitely not the 50 Cent fans knew when he first entered the rap game.

1 John Hurt

via Associated Press/Paramount Pictures

The idea behind The Elephant Man was to make a film about the true story of Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man from 19th century London. John Hurt was cast to play the lead and his transformation into Merrick is perhaps the most shocking in the history of film. Also extremely interesting is the fact that the costume was made out of molds and casts from the real character's body. This included the growths and deformities all over his body.

To know just how effective the change was, there was actually an Academy Award created to honor the effect and it was known as best makeup. The makeup was so strenuous, Hurt had to alter his everyday resting and eating patterns. This role will go down in movie history as one of the most dramatic actor changes in history.

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