15 actors and actresses who were transformed for a role

Actors and actresses are chameleons who not only swap their personality for that of their character, but also mimic their appearance - with the help of some amazing make-up artists and designers! Sometimes it may be a question of putting on or losing a few pounds, other times it requires turning a young thespian into someone twice their age... 

Remember Jim Carey in The Grinch? Well, if you thought his transformation was impressive, check out these 15 stars who were as equally unrecognizable for a role. Would you have recognized them? Tell us which one you think's the best - just share your comments with us below!

1. Tilda Swinton in The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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In order to play a convincing Madame D., Tilda Swinton would spend 5 hours in make-up, followed by another 5 hours to remove her 'disguise'.  Imagine doing that for every day over the course of several weeks!

2. Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

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Leto had to play a character who was suffering from AIDS and make-up artists had to turn his youthful face and features into that of someone seriously ill... Prominent bones, sickly eyes, rashes and lesions were all 'added' in order to get a realistic look.

3. John Travolta in Hairspray (2007)

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It took John Travolta over a year to decide if he wanted to play Edna Trunbald and when he did, he quickly found out that he'd have to wear a dress that weighed over 30lb, not to mention the layers of heavy make-up that had to be applied every day!

4. Danny DeVito in Batman Returns (1992)

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Danny DeVito's Penguin was an awesome achievement when it came to turning the actor into Batman's arch enemy. DeVito was banned from talking about his make-up and costumes in order to keep a shroud of mystery until opening night and we all agreed that the result was as impressive as it was terrifying! 

5. Jacob Tremblay in Wonder (2017)

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Jacob spent 2 hours in make-up each day, which included wearing prostheses in order to look like his character, Auggie Pullman… Before filming started, the young actor became friends with kids who had facial differences, which allowed him to better understand their plight and get into character.

6. Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour (2017)

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Oldman's no newcomer when it comes to physically transforming for a character and it was with the help of Kazuhiro Tsuji, a retired make-up artist that he convincingly morphed into Winston Churchill. The actor begged for Tsuji to be allowed to do his make-up, not least because the artist had worked on Hellboy, the apes in Planet of the Apes, The Grinch, etc. 

7. Charlize Theron in Monster (2003)

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Theron sacrificed a lot in order to play this role. She stopped working out and binged on junk food in order to gain weight. Apart from layers of make-up, she also had to wear prostheses that completely transformed her delicate facial features.

8. Robert de Niro in Frankenstein (1994)


Robert De Niro's superb acting skills and a top-notch make-up team turned this handsome A-lister into his pitiful and scary character, which explains why the movie was nominated for an Oscar in the best make-up category. 

9. John Leguizamo in Spawn (1997)

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This actor spent so much time in make-up that he swore he would never again accept a role that required such a heavy transformation. But this decision didn't last long as he went on to star in the TV series Arabian Nights!

10. Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

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This movie relied on good make-up and Greg Cannom, who was responsible for transforming Brad Pitt, spent a long time testing his effects in order for the storyline to be believable.

11. Ralph Fiennes in Harry Potter

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It was the Oscar-winning Mark Coulier who created Lord Voldemort's spine-chilling look. One problem he had was that so many LOTR actors were kids and he had little time to do them up due to their shorter working hours.  So Voldemort had to be quickly made up without skipping any details!

12. Dustin Hoffman in Hook (1991)


This film was such a success that props from the movie still sell like hot cakes and fans often copy Captain Hook's various prostheses when sorting out Halloween or Cosplay costumes.

13. Meryl Streep in Angels in America (2003)


Would you have recognized Streep in this movie?  She played 4 characters - Hannah Pitt, Ethel Rosenberg, a rabbi and an angel and yet you'd think they were completely different actors! This was one movie that had an awesome team of make-up artists!

14. Helena Bonham Carter in Planet of the Apes (2001)


Helena Bonham Carter was unrecognizable when she was transformed in to an ape for Tim Burton's 2001 blockbuster Planet of the Apes!

15. Richard Brake in Game of Thrones (2014) 

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The transformation of Richard Brake into a White Walker for Game of Thrones is just one example of how this series boasts some of the best make-up artists in TV history!