While Hollywood is known for encompassing all of the beautiful people in the world, there are definitely some actors that don’t exactly fit the mold. Obviously, there are some parts that don’t allow for an actress with drop dead gorgeous looks to fill the role. In fact, the times when casting directors opt for an ultra beautiful actress to play a humdrum role is usually met with huge criticisms. When Fox debuted the TV series, Lucifer, fans and critics alike were rolling their eyes at the glamorous, Lauren German, being cast as the Chloe Decker detective since she seemed more like a runway model than an ordinary police officer. Showrunners had to address this during the first season and even entwined an entire storyline about how she was once an actress that even had a pretty tawdry topless scene on film. So, while there are characters that are meant to be played by not-so-attractive actresses, it isn’t too often that Hollywood opts to use these actresses for the leading lady spot. They would much rather explain away their decision in using a typically beautiful starlet, rather than fill screen time with someone that could be described as ugly.
Yet, there are some leading ladies that have been able to covet some of the best roles in Hollywood, despite their less than stellar looks. While unattractive actresses like Kathy Griffin and Sandra Bernhard have had success in supporting roles and have yet to be considered as the lead actress, there are some that have been able to rise to the top billing regardless of their looks. Check out some of the 15 ugly people Hollywood has casted as a leading lady, and see how sometimes talent has been able to trump physical appearance.
As the Queen of Pop, Madonna has obtained iconic status in regard to her role in the music industry. Her constant ability to reinvent herself was made evident in her 1992 book, Sex, and then again during her highly provocative stage kiss with Britney Spears during the 2003 MTV VMAs. While there are some that are fooled to think that her looks are on par with the other drop dead gorgeous women in Hollywood, one look at her earlier self will be enough to dispel those thoughts. Stripped away from the over-the-top costumes and caked on makeup, Madonna has an appearance that is more than just a bit odd. From the large gap in her tooth to the crazily bushy eyebrows, her time as a leading lady was met with a puzzled look by most audiences and critics. While it was fun to see everyone’s favorite, “Material Girl,” on the big screen, she didn’t exactly have the look of a true leading lady. It’s no wonder she had a short-lived time on the big screen (unless you count the huge flop she made with then-husband, Guy Ritchie, in 2002), and has since stayed in her own lane in the music industry.
14 Molly Ringwald
Each generation seems to have their own version of what is considered the hottest “It” girl in Hollywood, whether it’s Angelina Jolie for the older generation or Megan Fox for the millenials. During the ‘80s, the hottest “It” girl in Hollywood was the infamous redhead, Molly Ringwald. She was part of the “Brat Pack” in Hollywood, and starred in some of the most iconic ‘80s films that are still held dear by millions all over the world. From The Breakfast Club to Pretty in Pink, Ringwald was able to capture hearts as everyone’s favorite leading lady. While people can look beyond the dated ‘80s fashion when viewing some of Ringwald’s ‘80s films, it’s a little harder to dismiss her oddball looks. While some feel that the freckles and vibrant red locks are appealing, it’s a little more difficult to dismiss the fact that her mouth rests in a constant frown state when not in a full smile. As one of the original starlets to exude “resting b**** face,” it’s a little ironic to think that she was actually considered the ‘80s go-to leading lady on the big screen.
13 Glenn Close
Glenn Close is an actress that has somehow been able to covet some of the most acclaimed leading lady roles in Hollywood, despite not having the looks that are expected of an A-list starlet. She is perhaps best known for her role as Alexandra “Alex” Forrest in the hit film, Fatal Attraction, but has also starred in a number of other hugely successful films. While she’s been chosen for various leading lady roles, it was the Fatal Attraction role that truly had fans scratching their heads at how she could possibly nab the spot of a woman able to entice Michael Douglas to cheat on his wife. Although she was considerably younger when she starred in this 1987 film, that doesn’t negate the fact that she was far from what a typical man would find appealing. On top of her giant schnoz that unfortunately points downward, many have compared her looks to the late, Robin Williams. This doesn’t exactly seem like a starlet that would make the best fit for a temptress on the big screen, but she definitely pulled off the psycho aspect of the character well enough.
12 Juliette Lewis
Juliette Lewis starred in a number of films in her youth but was first introduced to mainstream audiences when she portrayed the daughter in the 1991 hit film, Cape Fear. It was a huge honor for the much younger, Lewis, to star in a Martin Scorsese film alongside such A-list actors as Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange. Yet, she didn’t gain true leading lady status until she appeared in such films as Kalifornia and Natural Born Killers. Starring alongside Woody Harrelson, it was more than strange that her character would become the idolized love interest to the then-heartthrob, Harrelson. It was even more ironic when their killing spree would cause men across the nation to fantasize about the character played by Juliette Lewis. While some odd beauties in Hollywood can pull off their unattractive looks in the eyes of fans, Lewis has not been so lucky in her time in the limelight. It was never made clearer than in Natural Born Killers since her tampered down look and off-the-wall hairstyles only helped to accentuate her physical shortcomings.
11 Jennifer Grey
Jennifer Grey had a mediocre career as an actress prior to being cast as Frances “Baby” Houseman in the 1987 hit film, Dirty Dancing. The film became iconic in the eyes of the public, and spawned a number of pop culture phenomena that has been recreated numerous times over the years. From the constant reference to “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” to the recreation of the infamous dance at the end of the film, millions still hold a special place in their hearts over the Dirty Dancing film. In the case of Grey, the character she portrayed was meant to have less than stellar looks. She is seen as the good girl sister of the much more attractive, Lisa Houseman, played by Jane Brucker, and yet she still managed to nab the ultra hot character played by Patrick Swayze. After the release of the film, Grey stayed pretty much out of the limelight until she reemerged with an all new look during the eleventh season of Dancing with the Stars. She was practically unrecognizable since her nose job completely transformed her look. While her physical appearance was greatly improved, it definitely proved how prominent her former nose was that a slight alteration made her look like a completely different person.
10 Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker is an actress that has somehow been able to stay on top of the “Best Dressed” lists year after year, and has been able to solidify herself as a style icon in Hollywood. Yet, many believe that this wasn’t achieved solely for her own merit but because she played such a fashion-forward character through the Sex and the City series. This is most likely the reason why so many have been able to look beyond her less than stellar looks, as well, since her gigantic nose and close-set eyes aren’t exactly the standard of beauty in Hollywood. The success in the HBO TV series led to two different film adaptations and a number of other films starring Parker as the leading lady. It was more than ironic for Parker to play so many characters where she was being sought after by some of Hollywood’s hottest leading men since she would have most certainly been passed over if it were in regular life. It seems that her Carrie Bradshaw character should be thanked for achieving her style icon status on the red carpet, as well as helping her to land some of those leading lady roles that should have probably gone to much more attractive starlets in the entertainment industry.
9 Tori Spelling
As the daughter of the famed film producer, Aaron Spelling, it seemed that Tori Spelling had a life of luxury all mapped out for her. Yet, her aspirations in Hollywood were more than just being another pampered child among the richest of the rich. Instead, she chose to become an actress, and who better to help further her career than her father. Aaron Spelling famously cast her in the original TV series, Beverly Hills, 90210 as Donna Martin. Yet, this was perhaps the most generous act by her father, since he left her very little after his death. Although Aaron Spelling was a billionaire, his will reportedly only left his daughter $800,000. In order to try and maintain her lifestyle, Tori starred in a number of straight-to-video films that famously flopped and numerous attempts at reality TV. Whether her failure as a leading lady was due to her poor reputation as the ungrateful daughter or her lackluster appeal in the looks department is difficult to say. Regardless, Tori is continuing to try her hand at reality TV and has seemed to forego her aspiration as a true actress in Hollywood.
8 Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman started her career at a young age, and had a number of films in the ‘80s where she stood a chance at being considered one of Hollywood’s most beautiful starlets. Yet, time didn’t help her in the looks department, and her facial features became even more pronounced as the years flew by. When she was cast in the 1994 film, Pulp Fiction, it was almost unbelievable to think that she would be the eye candy piece of Marsellus Wallace, much less the temptress to Vincent Vega, played by John Travolta. Her unbelievable portrayal should have been the last leading role she ever obtained but her status as Quentin Tarantino’s muse ensured that she would always have a leading lady spot in Hollywood. She was again cast at top billing in Tarantino’s Kill Bill series, even though she most definitely shouldn’t have had that role. In an attempt to try and stave off the aging process, Thurman has done a few alterations to her looks but didn’t opt to change out her famously large nose. Instead, she has pulled and stretched her facial features (most likely in an attempt to reduce the look of ever-present wrinkles), but looks even more ghoulish than ever.
7 Daryl Hannah
Daryl Hannah is an actress that hasn’t made the best choices in film over the years, with many of her portrayals being pretty much forgotten in the minds of fans. However, there have been a few roles that she is best remembered for, including her 1984 portrayal as a mermaid in Splash. She was considerably younger in this film, and was able to pull off the mermaid look with ease. Yet, her looks have definitely faded over the years. Nowadays, she has gone the route so many other aging starlets seem to take, and fans have noticed a considerable change in the lifelike appearance of her facial features. The latest memorable film portrayal by Hannah was in the Kill Bill film series, but she didn’t exactly come off as the ultra hot leading lady she was probably aiming towards. Instead, she looked worn down and the eye patch didn’t really help her look. While she once had the freshfaced look of a future beauty, she went from a young starlet to an old Hollywood hag rather quickly. It seems she passed up her glory days as a beautiful starlet, and is now just another forgotten actress that can no longer hold the leading lady spot.
6 Penelope Cruz
When Penelope Cruz started off as an actress and model at the tender age of 16-years-old, most likely she was acclaimed for her eccentric beauty. Her exotic look, thick accent, and fiery personality was undoubtedly refreshing in Hollywood, but upon closer inspection she isn’t classically beautiful by any means. In fact, her elongated nose and dull expression are often criticized when she’s been casted as a leading lady. This was especially true in films like Vanilla Sky and The Girl of Your Dreams. During the height of her fame, many people resorted to comparing her to her sisters since both Salma and Monica are thought to be far more attractive than Penelope. Perhaps that’s why audiences haven’t seen much of her in recent years since people are starting to become hip to how unattractive this Spanish starlet truly is on the big screen. Now that she’s married to the A-list actor, Javier Bardem, the pressure may be off for her to come out with another leading lady role, and audiences aren’t exactly waiting with baited breath.
5 Sandra Oh
While presenting an award at the Asian Excellence Awards, Sandra Oh made a joke about how refreshing it was to see so many talented Asians in one room, and then referenced how usually there is only one allowed onset. This is sadly true in many cases since there are a myriad of films and television shows where there is only one person of Asian descent in the entire cast. So, with so few Asians in the entertainment industry, one would think that the Asian actresses that rose to the top would be the most stunning of them all. While Lucy Liu definitely has a huge following because of her stellar good looks, Sandra Oh isn’t exactly what the public thinks of when it comes to a beautiful Asian goddess. Yet, Oh has been able to star in a leading role in a number of TV and film portrayals, regardless of her less than stellar looks.
4 Shelley Duvall
Shelley Duvall has starred in a number of films over the years, but her most memorable appearances were both in 1980. Duvall was the leading lady in the horror flick, The Shining, and starred as Olive Oyl in the film adaptation of Popeye. While she definitely embodied the Olive Oyl character without question, it was her role starring alongside Jack Nicholson that seemed a little farfetched. Duvall’s character wasn’t exactly meant to be a drop dead gorgeous supermodel of a wife but her less than stellar good looks was almost a distraction in the film. Jack Nicholson’s character was definitely off his rocker by the end of the film, but he had major sex appeal in the beginning of the film, as well as in Hollywood at the time. It seemed strange to cast Duvall in the role as his wife but perhaps filmmakers were looking for a stringy-haired woman to fit the character so expertly described in the book version.
3 Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg is known for having her fair share of controversies over the years, whether it was the blackface painting fiasco during her time with Ted Danson or the comments she’s made about being on The View. Yet, no one can deny how talented she was during some of her roles as a leading lady on the big screen. While her character in the Sister Act film series weren’t Oscar-worthy, it was a fun and entertaining role that was beloved by audiences. Yet, Goldberg didn’t need to prove her acting skills by that time since she had already received critical acclaim for her role in The Color Purple. She truly embodied the character to the point where people didn’t even recognize her as Celie. While some actresses have been known to lose their looks as they age, Goldberg has the distinction of never having had the looks to begin with. From the over-the-top unkempt hair to the oversized clothing on the red carpet, it’s safe to say that Goldberg won’t be winning any beauty contests in the near future.
2 Bette Midler
Bette Midler is an actress that reached her peak in the ‘80s and starred alongside such actors as Danny DeVito and Lily Tomlin. She is probably best known for her role in the 1988 film, Beaches, or perhaps the Halloween favorite, Hocus Pocus. Yet, neither of these films helped to portray her as a beautiful starlet. While she’s managed to hold numerous leading lady roles since these films, she has still yet to convince audiences that she is one of Hollywood’s most beautiful people. She has made quite a successful career for herself in film and in the music industry, but her most recent bouts of fame have been through Twitter roles with reality stars like Khloe Kardashian. Perhaps Midler is a little jealous at how the Kardashian beauties seem to get all the limelight without half of the work she has put in perfecting her craft. Whatever the case, there isn’t much Midler can do to help change the minds of the public at this point since no amount of plastic surgery would be able to alter her looks into a typical Hollywood beauty.
When Cher was first introduced to audiences on the Sonny & Cher show, she was hailed as a natural beauty due to her tampered down look and sleek ebony hair. Yet, her look seemed to evolve with the times in a way that wasn’t always flattering to her appearance. The ‘70s brought on feathered hair that seemed to over-accentuate her hard facial features, and the ‘80s created an even bigger hairstyle that she hasn’t been able to let go of ever since. She had a reputation of dating much younger men for years, but it didn’t make her seem more desirable like other cougars in Hollywood. Instead, she appeared desperate in trying to remain relevant, and this was made even clearer when she was traipse around on stage wearing leotards and leather jackets. While her time as a leading lady in Hollywood produced some truly stellar films like Mask and Moonstruck, her dated look and hardened features make for an odd appearance that is no longer marketable as a lead actress.
Sources: Daily Mail, US Magazine, Roger Ebert
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