17 Movie Stars Who Were Almost Unrecognizable On-Screen (PHOTOS)

Dwyer Frame | Jul 9, 2016 Movies
17 Movie Stars Who Were Almost Unrecognizable On-Screen (PHOTOS)

What makes actors great is their ability to transform into someone they're not, be that through makeup, great acting, or even adding (or losing!) a significant amount of weight. As a bonus, with great change usually comes an award nomination or two! 

These 13 movie stars took their day job to the next level by transforming their famous (and beautiful!) faces into unrecognizable characters that make us realize they're really good at their jobs!  


Images via Allan Bregg/Splash News/Corbis; Splash News/Corbis

  • Johnny Depp in 'Black Mass'

    Images via Splash/Corbis; James Haynes/Corbis

    To play Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, Depp not only needed to age himself a few decades, but he also sported dazzling blue contacts and a bald wig-type hairpiece that took 22 hours to make and could only be used once.

  • Cameron Diaz in 'Being John Malkovich'

    Images via Universal Studios/Getty Images; Chris Avery/Corbis

    Making someone look good takes work, but making an already beautiful person look, well, "real," is even harder. To play the part of Lotte, Diaz donned brown contacts to hide her baby blues and a frizzy wig! 

  • Eddie Redmayne in 'The Danish Girl'

    Images via David Bro/Corbis; James Higgins/Corbis

    Besides the makeup and wardrobe, Redmayne needed to learn how to act like a transgender person for this Oscar-nominated role, so he enlisted the help of his former director Lana Wachowski (Jupiter Ascending), who is transgender, to get him in the mindset.

  • Tilda Swinton in 'Trainwreck'

    Images via Allan Bregg/Splash News/Corbis; Splash News/Corbis

    Far from her more avant-garde roles, you may have missed that this was Swinton in this raunchy comedy. To achieve the look, Swinton had to have an hour-long self-tanner session each day followed by loads of bronzer! 

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  • Matthew McConaughey in 'Gold'

    Images via Splash News/Corbis; INFphoto.com/Corbis

    The heartthrob really transformed himself for this movie, sporting a beer belly and the absence of his luscious locks for a receding hairline. We're pretty sure we'd walk past him on the street without looking twice. 

  • Rooney Mara in 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'

    Images via MGM/Columbia Pictures; Xavier Collin/Image Press/Splash/Corbis

    To play the title role of Lisbeth Salander in this bestselling book's movie adaptation, Mara had to go all out. She had part of her head shaved while the remaining hair was dyed black, her eyebrows shaved, and various piercings, including her nipples — ouch! 

  • Jared Leto in 'Dallas Buyers Club'

    Images via Breedo/Deano/Corbis; Splash News/Corbis

    He lost around 40 pounds to play HIV-positive transgender character Rayon. His role earned him an Oscar, and a loyal following, for his complete transformation.

  • Tom Cruise in 'Tropic Thunder'

    Images via MARIO ANZUONI/Corbis; Terry Young/Geisler-Fotopress/Corbis

    He went way off character to play portly Len Grossman, a greedy executive, which won him a Golden Globe nomination and big laughs from fans in a year when he could really use the positive spin (remember Oprah's couch, anyone?).

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  • Robin Williams in 'Mrs. Doubtfire'

    Images via 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images; JOSHUA ROBERTS/Corbis

    It took over four hours each day to achieve the look of Mrs. Doubtfire. Besides the grueling makeup, Williams donned a heavy fat suit, too.

  • Johnny Depp in 'Edward Scissorhands'

    Images via Twentieth Century Fox Pictures/Corbis; CinemaPhoto/Corbis

    He's transformed himself for countless roles over the years, but playing the sad boy with scissors for fingers was the first transformative role that had him spending hours in makeup each day. 

  • Nicole Kidman in 'The Hours'

    Images via Paramount Pictures; Splash News

    It's amazing how much a prosthetic nose can change the look of one's face. Kidman had to sit in a makeup chair for three hours to have the prosthetic applied for her Oscar-nominated role as Virginia Woolf. 

  • Richard Gere in 'Time Out of Mind'


    Image via Mario Cartelli/Corbis and Doug Meszler/Corbis

    To play the part of homeless George, Gere really sat with panhandlers and homeless people (he was filmed with hidden cameras). The result was a phenomenal performance that even had the people of New York City thinking he was really homeless. 

    More from CafeMom: 19 Most Dramatic Celebrity Weight Transformations (PHOTOS)

  • Elle Fanning in 'About Ray'

    Images via Weinstein Company; Splash News/Corbis

    The young star really revamped her look for the role of Ray, a transgender teen, having to bind her chest and wear a wig to cover her signature locks. 

  • Charlize Theron in 'Monster'

    Images via New Market Films; Headlinephoto/Splash News

    To play a real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed for the murder of six men, Charlize Theron gained a ton of weight, ditched makeup, and pretty much left all trace of her former gorgeous self behind. It was worth it: The actress won an Oscar for the role.

  • Elizabeth Banks in the 'Hunger Games' series

    Images via Lionsgate Films; Xavier Collin/Celebrity Monitor

    The gorgeous actress was almost unrecognizable at first as Effie Trinket, a woman from the Capitol who escorts the District 12 tributes in the Hunger Games movies. Between the wig, the costumes, and the wacky makeup, it was hard to remember that Banks is one of Hollywood's most gorgeous bombshells.

  • Zoe Saldana in 'Avatar'

    Images via 20th Century Fox; Splash News

    Sure, the character of Neytiri in Avatar is computer animated, but Saldana killed the role nonetheless, turning in a great performance that left her almost unrecognizable to moviegoers. She had already wowed science fiction fans with her role in the Star Trek reboot, and she is set to return to her blue-skinned Avatar role for the sequels in 2017 and 2018.

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  • Ryan Reynolds in 'Just Friends'

    Image via New Line Cinema and Splash News

    The gorgeous actor wore a fat suit for the first part of the film, and it threw just about everybody for a loop. Perhaps not surprisingly, he turns into a babe magnet by the end of the film, which is pretty much what he would be in real life, too, if he wasn't married to the equally stunning Blake Lively.