When the trailer for Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro” hit the internet this August, all most people wanted to talk about was that nose. In the film, out via Netflix this November, Cooper plays Bernstein himself and wears a large prosthetic nose in the role, in addition to extensive old age makeup for scenes set during the legendary composer’s later years. It’s a look that inspired significant outcry and controversy, although Bernstein’s children have defended Cooper’s transformation from its critics.
Cooper’s “Maestro” follows a bevy of projects released or announced in the last few years featuring actors radically transforming themselves for their roles. Brendan Fraser looks entirely different as an overweight man looking to connect with his daughter in Darren Aronofsky’s intensively divisive “The Whale,” and the thing about Renée Zellweger is that she can really transform into another person. The “Bridget Jones’ Diary” star took on playing alleged real-life murderer Pam Hupp for NBC’s “The Thing About Pam.” The true crime docudrama centers on Midwestern suburban mom Pam, who is facing charges for multiple murders. (Hupp is currently in prison for a 2016 killing.)
“It seems like she’s of generous character, that she’s thoughtful, and that she’s a good friend,” Zellweger told Vanity Fair of the role. “I guess that’s part of the deception, isn’t it? Because you might assume that that’s as far as it goes.”
Zellweger donned “head to toe” prosthetics and a padded suit to fully embody Pam. “It was the choice of clothing, it was the briskness in her step-step-step, her gait,” the Oscar winner said. “All of those things were really important because all those bits and pieces are what construct the person that we project our own conclusions and presumptions onto.”
And Lily James sent social media ablaze when the first photos from Hulu’s limited series “Pam and Tommy” dropped, and showed her unrecognizable transformation into Pamela Anderson. (Truly, the “Baby Driver” and “Cinderella” actress looks more like Anderson than she does herself.) In 2021, Jessica Chastain packed on prosthetics to play televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. That same year, MGM had everyone talking with the trailer for “House of Gucci,” which showed off Jared Leto’s bonkers look as Paolo Gucci.
Whether achieved through natural methods (weight loss, weight gain) and/or boosted by makeup and prosthetics, actor transformations have been shocking TV and film viewers for as long as the mediums have existed.
Some actors have made a career out of buzzy physical transformations, none more so than Christian Bale. Many times, physical transformations lead to Oscar recognition, as it did for Bale (“The Fighter”), Charlize Theron (“Monster”), Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”), and Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), among others. But a transformation is nothing without the performance underneath it, as many of the actors below will stress.
Check out some of the most impressive actor transformations in the list below, including Sean Penn in “Gaslit,” Colin Farrell in “The Batman,” and more.
(Editor’s note: This list was originally published in May 2021 and has been updated multiple times since.) With editorial contributions by Wilson Chapman.
Bradley Cooper, “Maestro”
Bradley Cooper plays legendary composer Leonard Bernstein at two different stages of his life in “Maestro.” As a younger man, Cooper just wears a nose prosthetic, but he’s caked in more extensive old age makeup to play Bernstein during the final years of his life.
John Hurt, “The Elephant Man”
One of the original and most famous prosthetics transformations in film, John Hurt spent seven to eight hours each day in the makeup chair during production of “The Elephant Man” to play John Merrick: a slightly fictionalized version of real-life man Joseph Merrick. The makeup was designed by Christopher Tucker, based on casts of Merrick’s body from the Royal London Hospital’s archives.
Sebastian Stan, “A Different Man”
“Pam and Tommy” Emmy nominee Sebastian Stan transforms into a man who undergoes facial reconstructive surgery for the A24 drama, “A Different Man” — not yet released.
Stan shared an Instagram photo of himself as Edward, a man who undergoes facial reconstructive surgery and becomes obsessed with the actor portraying him in a play based on his life in July 2022.
Lily James, “Pam and Tommy”
Lily James nearly broke the internet when first-look photos of her as Pamela Anderson in the Hulu limited series “Pam and Tommy” debuted online in May 2021. Directed by “I, Tonya” filmmaker Craig Gillespie and written by “The Wrestler” scribe Rob Siegel, “Pam and Tommy” recontextualizes the scandal that broke out after Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson’s sex tape was stolen. Sebastian Stan also stars as Lee, but it’s James’ unrecognizable transformation into Anderson that has everyone talking so far.
“In some ways, it’s very similar to ‘I, Tonya’ with the surprise of it,” Gillespie recently told Collider about the project. “There’s the victimization of the media and what happened with that tape that was such an affront to them, and how it really ultimately severely damaged their personal life and her career. There’s this situation with the public who snicker and go, ‘Oh, yeah, I know that story. They sold it.’ But people just don’t know the story.”
Jared Leto, “House of Gucci”
Ridley Scott’s murder drama “House of Gucci” arrived to huge buzz around Jared Leto’s transformation into Paolo Gucci. The transformation is so impressive it nearly surpassed the attention given to the star-power pairing of Lady Gaga and Adam Driver in the lead roles. Leto appears under heavy makeup and prosthetics and is nearly unrecognizable as Paolo, son of Aldo Gucci and grandson to Gucci founder Guccio Gucci.
One person not happy with Leto’s transformation is Patrizia Gucci, the great-grandchild of house founder Guccio Gucci. In statements released to Associated Press condemning the project, Patrizia came out against the casting of Al Pacino and Jared Leto as Aldo and Paolo Gucci, respectively. As the Gucci heir said, “My grandfather was a very handsome man, like all the Guccis, and very tall, blue eyes and very elegant. He is being played by Al Pacino, who is not very tall already, and this photo shows him as fat, short, with sideburns, really ugly. Shameful, because he doesn’t resemble him at all.”
As for Leto, Patrizia condemned the set photos revealing the Oscar winner’s “unkempt hair and a lilac corduroy suit” as Paolo. “Horrible, horrible,” she said. “I still feel offended.”
Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
To transform into Christian televangelist Tammy Faye, Jessica Chastain spent four hours in makeup every day, working with longtime makeup artists Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, and Justin Raleigh. Chastain told People that every inch of her face was covered in makeup or prosethetics.
“I have a dimple in my chin that she didn’t have, so we would seal that up. Her face was more round than mine, so I would have things on my cheeks,” Chastain explained. “Their expertise just helped me so much with my confidence in playing her.”
Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
It didn’t take long for Donald Glover’s transformation into Teddy Perkins to become iconic. The eponymous April 5, 2018 episode of “Atlanta” left fans shocked as Glover applied prosthetics and whiteface makeup to play the character. Derrick Haywood, the actor who played Teddy Perkins’ brother Bennyin the episode, said he didn’t even recognize Glover at first during filming.
“Initially, I had no idea that Teddy Perkins was actually played by Donald Glover,” Haywood told Vulture, noting that Glover stayed in character with his makeup and high-pitched voice throughout the entirety of filming. The director called ‘Teddy’ over (on set) and said, ‘Let’s see what Teddy thinks.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, who is this Teddy guy and why is his opinion so important?’”
Not even “Atlanta” series regular Lakeith Stanfield knew he was acting opposite Glover. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is a very interesting fellow,’” Stanfield said to THR last year while reflecting on the episode. “I wanted to know more about (the actor), so I started asking him questions. And Donald had a whole history prepared. He was saying he’s been acting for a long time. And I was like, ‘That’s funny, because this is a very small business…I would not miss your face.’ So I started asking around on the set, ‘Who the fuck is this guy?’ And then someone finally just spilled the beans, which now I’m kind of mad about, because I wish the illusion would’ve gone on a little longer.”
Colin Farrell, “The Batman”
The first trailer for Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” stirred up buzz for the film’s grim, Fincher-like atmosphere and the first look at Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne, but perhaps the biggest takeaway from the footage was Colin Farrell’s shocking transformation into Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin. The actor worked with artist Mike Marino to apply prosthetics to completely change his physical appearance. Marino’s previous makeup credits include “The Irishman,” “Black Swan,” “The Dead Don’t Die,” and “I Am Legend” on the big screen, as well as “Boardwalk Empire,” “I Know This Much Is True,” and “True Detective” on the small screen. The final result on Farrell shocked even his co-stars, as Jeffrey Wright walked right past Farrell on set without any idea it was his co-star.
Farrell said of the transformation: “Mike Marino is a genius. He’s an absolute and veritable genius. And that word gets thrown out a lot, but he is a drawing, sculpting, shaping genius. And he created this visage for the Penguin…When I saw what Mike did, the whole character made sense to me. I swear to God, I saw what he did, and I just went ‘OK,’ and I got really excited about it. All that to say that if anyone ever thinks what I do at ‘The Batman’ is a decent performance, I’ll gladly take 49% of the credits.”
Rob McElhenney, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
Rob McElhenney’s tenure on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is defined by two shocking transformations: Fat Mac and Jacked Mac. For the seventh season of the comedy series, McElhenney packed on 50 pounds to mock the very idea of actor transformations and expose his character’s vanity.
“As I started off I was doing it with chicken breast and rice and vegetables,” McElhenney told The Wrap. “But when you’re four months in it and you have to muscle down 1,000 calories for the third time or fourth time in a day and you have to either eat three chicken breasts, two cups of rice and two cups of vegetables — or one Big Mac — you start to see the Big Mac and realize it’s a lot easier to get down…And then every once in a while I would eat three donuts. And every day one of my meals was a high-calorie protein shake.”
Starting in 2018 with the show’s 13th season, McElhenney appeared so muscular as Mac that he took fans by surprise. The actor shared on Instagram that achieved this transformation by “lifting weights six days a week, running three miles a day, sleeping nine hours a night, and cutting out carbs, sugar, and alcohol.”
Al Pacino, “Dick Tracy”
Warren Beatty’s “Dick Tracy” adaptation won the Academy Award for Best Makeup with good reason. Most of the cast appeared transformed one way or another by makeup, hairstyling, and/or prosthetics. None was more shocking than Al Pacino as crime boss Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice. The transformation was the work of prosthetic makeup designers John Caglione, Jr. and Doug Drexler and took three-and-a-half hours to apply on set each day. While all of the characters in the film stuck closely to Chester Gould’s original designs from 1930s comic strip, Pacino was allowed to improvise his own design for Big Boy and decided not to appear as overweight as the mob. Pacino’s role was conceived as a cameo, but his comedy skills stole the show and he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The performer told Entertainment Weekly at the time, “”It was a relief to play a cameo part and to feel free to play it.”
Tilda Swinton, “Suspiria”
Tilda Swinton plays three characters in Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” reimagining, but she only looks like herself as one character. The role of Dr. Josef Klemperer transforms Swinton into an elderly male character, while Mother Helena Markos is a centuries-old witch with decaying skin. Swinton was transformed into the 82-year-old man with the help of Oscar-winning makeup artist Mark Coulier. Coulier told The New York Times he “thickened Swinton’s neck with prosthetics and built her jaw out to look heavier and more masculine” in order to turn the actress into Klemperer. Swinton spent four hours in the makeup chair each day to pull off the look. In order to be fully transformed into her male character, Swinton personally requested Coulier make her a male reproductive organ.
“She did have us make a penis and balls,” Coulier said. “She had this nice, weighty set of genitalia so that she could feel it dangling between her legs, and she managed to get it out on set on a couple of occasions.”
Tilda Swinton, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Suspiria” was not the first time Tilda Swinton worked with makeup artist Mark Coulier. The two worked together on “The Grand Budapest Hotel” to transform Swinton into an 84-year-old woman, and the work won Coulier and his fellow makeup artist Frances Hannon the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Vanity Fair reported on the transformation: “It really is rubber that Coulier put on Swinton to transform her into the 84-year-old Madame D — or, more specifically, a very soft silicone rubber that’s encapsulated in a plastic barrier that dissolves into the skin. Coulier says it was a fairly traditional process of molding the rubber on to a life cast of Swinton’s face, but with new materials and techniques; ‘From an aging perspective,’ Coulier says, ‘every time you learn from what you did last time and you make improvements.’”
Renée Zellweger, “The Thing About Pam”
Renée Zellweger underwent “head to toe” prosthetics to become Pam Hupp, who is awaiting charges on a series of murders. The NBC true crime series “The Thing About Pam.”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Legendary makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji came out of retirement to transform Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill for Joe Wright’s historical drama “Darkest Hour,” which won Oldman the Oscar for Best Actor and won Tsuji the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Tsuji told Variety he spent six months testing various makeup techniques into order to create a lifelike look for Oldman as Churchill. “Likeness makeup is almost impossible to pull off because everybody looks different,” Tsuji said. “If the two people have proportions that are close, it’s easier. But these two are totally different. So I had to figure out the best balance to make him look like Churchill, but not (like he’s) wearing a mask.”
Charlize Theron, “Monster”
To play serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins’ “Monster,” Charlize Theron gained over 30 pounds and wore brown contact lenses and a prosthetic overbite. The transformation is Theron’s most famous, not least of which because she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. For Theron, however, the emotional side of her performance was always more important than the physical. As Jenkins once explained, “This kind of performance was going to be such a difficult thing to do. Aileen is a very particular character. I wanted somebody who was brave enough, and strong enough, to do what was necessary to play her. The exterior is all secondary.”
Theron has since said she would not gain or lose weigh for a role again.
Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”
Brendan Fraser donned prosthetics to play a 600-pound man looking to reconnect with his daughter (Sadie Sink) in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” which premiered to acclaim at the 2022 Venice Film Festival. However, the film has since been heavily criticized for its portrayal of fatness.
Christian Bale, “The Machinist”
Bale worked on losing weight for four months prior to production beginning on Brad Anderson’s psychological thriller “The Machinist,” in which he plays an insomniac who falls into a tormented cycle of paranoia and guilt after a work altercation. Bale shed just over 60 pounds for the movie. Harrison Cheung’s biography on Bale says the actor consumed only “water, an apple, and one cup of coffee per day” to get ready for the role. The actor told Men’s Journal he also chain smoked cigarettes.
John Lithgow and Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”
After coming out of retirement and winning an Oscar for “Darkest Hour,” makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji kept working by joining the production of “Bombshell.” Tsuji transformed Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly and John Lithgow into Roger Ailes for the Fox News sexual harassment drama and he won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling yet again. Tsuji told IndieWire he pushed his limit with Theron as Kelly. “We tend to avoid this kind of makeup because each piece is so small and was hard to maintain on set,” he added. “You see right away if it’s not applied well. It has to be applied in the exact position every day. And the eyelids were hard. I was able to use scanned data to make another life cast of Charlize to sculpt just the eyelids. But I changed it six times.”
Martin Sheen, “Judas and the Black Messiah”
Martin Sheen’s makeup-driven turn as former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in “Judas and the Black Messiah” shocked audiences. Sheen has two notable scenes in the movie, directed by Shaka King. Sheen is so unrecognizable in the role that many viewers had no idea it was him when the first official trailer was released.
Speaking to ABC News, Sheen said accepting the role of Hoover was a challenge that had nothing to do with the hours needed to transform into the former FBI director. “I played one of the worst villains imaginable who had a different public persona, but personally, he was a wretched man,” the actor said. “He destroyed a lot of lives. Including a lot of Black lives. And I wasn’t very happy playing him. I did everything I could not to play him.”
Sheen put his reservations aside because of the talent involved in the project, adding. “(Director Shaka King) is an impressive guy.”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Matthew McConaughey lost nearly 50 pounds for “Dallas Buyers Club,” where he stars as rodeo-riding electrician Ron Woodroof. The true story centers on Woodroof being diagnosed with HIV in 1985 at 35 years old and smuggling unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas for treating the symptoms of HIV-AIDS patients. McConaughey told BBC he “chewed a lot of ice” to replace natural food eating habits in order to get his weight down, adding, “I did it in as healthy a way as I found possible. I met with a nutritionist. I gave myself four months to lose the weight. I had my programmed meals, lost 3.5lb a week — like clockwork — and got down to my desired weight, which turned out to be 47lb lighter. The surprise was how the energy that I lost from the neck down transferred to the neck up. I became clinically aware, almost hyper, I needed three hours less sleep a night. I had an amazing amount of energy from the head up. That was something I didn’t know was going to happen.” McConaughey won the Academy Award for Best Actor with his performance as Woodroof.
Sean Penn, “Gaslit”
Sean Penn, is that you? The Academy Award winner turned heads as Attorney General John Mitchell in Starz’s “Gaslit” series about the Watergate scandal.
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Ever the chameleon, Christian Bale gained weight to play former Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as spent four to eight hours per day in makeup. According to USA Today, Bale shaved his scalp and bleached his eyebrows to create a “better canvas” for wigs and prosthetics, including a “number of inches” of rubber arond his neck.
“It was helpful to (have) a bullish neck,” Bale explained. “You’ve got to give everything to every role that you do.”
And while director Adam McKay was solely seeking the “vibe” of Cheney on-screen, Bale fully committed to physically turning into the politican and drastically changed his diet.
“I tend to be quite habitual. Eggs and rice—that was it,” Bale told E! Online. “But it ended up sort of 15 eggs on a bowl of rice. It was that enjoyment of being full nonstop, but it gets quite sickening after a while you know? Your back goes out and all sorts of other things but that all helped with playing (the role).”
Jared Leto, “Chapter 27”
Jared Leto packed on pounds to play Mark Chapman, murderer of John Lennon, in the indie drama “Chapter 27.” As Leto once told Vogue, “I gained 70 pounds for the part, used makeup to make my face all puffy and really lived in that guy’s skin 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I couldn’t just leave him behind at the end of the day…he stayed with me and even invaded my dreams.”
According to Elle: “Leto packed on the pounds by eating pizza and burgers, and chugging pints of microwaved chocolate twice a day. The preparation process was indeed extreme, and resulted in Leto needing to use a wheelchair for a period of time — with the added weight, walking became painful.
Leto later told The Guardian he regretted the decision: “Really, it’s a stupid thing to do. I got gout, and my cholesterol went up so fast in such a short time that my doctors wanted to put me on Lipitor, which is for much, much older people.” All in all, he said, the experience was “a fascinating journey.”
Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
David O. Russell’s “The Fighter” is another notable example of Christian Bale’s weight loss for film roles. Bale stars in the film as a drug-addicted boxing trainer and brother to Mark Wahlberg’s Micky Ward. Bale won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor with his performance in the movie. The actor told the Latino Review (via HuffPo) he relied mostly on running to lose the weight for the movie. “I was just running like crazy,” Bale said. “I could just run for hours on end and I felt really healthy.” The actor famously joked he did a lot of cocaine to help lose weight as well.
Gary Oldman, “Hannibal”
“Darkest Hour” won Oldman the Oscar, but the award for the actor’s most shocking transformation on screen goes to “Hannibal.” Oldman stars in the 2001 crime thriller as Mason Verger, a facially-disfigured child rapist. Adding to the allure around the transformation was the decision to not bill Oldman as part of the cast during the movie’s theatrical release. “I’m playing the man with no face. So we just had a bit of fun with it,” Oldman once told IGN. “We thought it would be great. The man with no face and no name, and sort of do it anonymously.”
As for the transformation, makeup artist Greg Cannom once told The Guardian, “I knew we could get away with more with him than some other actor. The first thing he said was, ‘Can we stretch my eye open?’ “No lips, no cheeks, no eyelids. It’s really disgusting. I’ve been showing people pictures (of Oldman as Verger), and they all just say, ‘Oh my God,’ and walk away, which makes me very happy.”
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher “
Slight makeup tweaks and a prosthetic nose transformed Steve Carell into murderous billionaire John du Pont for Bennett Miller’s chilly drama “Foxcatcher.” “Look, the nose is actually very small,” makeup artist Bill told Yahoo about the transformation. “Du Pont had a very distinct profile that was very beak-like, the irony being that he called himself ‘the golden eagle.’ So although Steve has a full nose on, it’s really just the ridge of the nose that changed; I gave him more of a hook to the bridge.” Corso added that “a forehead prosthetic that hid Carell’s distinct eyebrows” and “a fake lower lip that changed the shape of his mouth” contributed more to the actor’s physical change than the nose did. Caruso was Oscar nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, as was Carell for Best Actor.
Margot Robbie, “Mary Queen of Scots”
Margot Robbie shocked fans with her makeup-driven transformation into Queen Elizabeth I in “Mary, Queen of Scots.” Makeup artist Jenny Shircore spoke to Deadline about the process and said that the real-life Elizabeth’s bout with smallpox became a foundation for transforming Robbie’s face. “It would mean that there were scars left there, which she’d need to cover, which would mean she wore a thick white makeup, blocking out that wonderful bottom lip of Margot Robbie’s,” the artist said. “And of course, I used the same technique (with) her eyebrows. Elizabeth had very fine eyebrows, whereas Margot’s got lovely, big, dark eyebrows. So again, it was placing the blisters and the boils along the areas that I wanted to eventually cover with makeup, thereby changing Margot Robbie’s face, and getting her to the iconic look.”
Christian Bale, American Hustle
On the opposite end of “The Fighter” and “The Machinist” is “American Hustle,” in which Christian Bale got his weight up to play con artist Irving Rosenfeld. The transformation was fitting given the themes of shifting identity that are central to Russell’s movie. “I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers and whatever I could get my hands on. I literally ate anything that came my way,” Bale told People magazine about gaining weight for the movie.
Tom Cruise, “Tropic Thunder”
Tom Cruise surprised the industry with his enraged cameo in “Tropic Thunder” as studio executive Les Grossman. The actor wasn’t required to pack on prosthetics to play the role, but he told director Ben Stiller that transforming was the only way he knew how to play Les Grossman. Cruise told BBC, “I told Ben I want fat hands and I want to dance and he looked at me and was like, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘Ben, I need fat hands and I’m going to dance.’ And Ben was like, ‘Are you sure? Why don’t you just look like you?’ And I told him that I just didn’t know how else to play this character. So then I did the makeup test and we tested the fat hands and the whole look and we’re doing the wardrobe and there’s no music playing, and I told Ben I just wanted to do some moves from him. I started working on Les and moving. He later picked the music and was pissing himself.”
Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Rooney Mara worked with makeup artist Pat McGrath, costume designer Trish Summerville, and hair stylist Danilo to transform into the hacker Lisbeth Salander for David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The transformation included getting her head shaved and the remaining locks dyed black, having her eyebrows bleached, and agreeing to numerous body piercings. Part of the reason Mara’s transformation was so buzzy was because she was hardly a big name at the time, her most notable roles being supporting turns in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Social Network.” Getting “Dragon Tattoo” as her first studio leading role and committing to the physicality of the part so fearlessly made Mara an instant actor to watch.
“The eyebrows were the biggest shock because that really changed my face, and I didn’t recognize myself,” Mara told Vogue about the transformation. “But I was fine because I knew it was going to be really helpful for getting into character.”
Kumail Nanjiani, “Eternals”
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani stunned with his physical transformation for the Marvel Cinematic Universe tentpole “Eternals.” Nanjiani gained tons of muscle for the movie and his shredded body was internet talking point for months. The actor explained to Seth Meyers why it was so important for him to change his entire physical appearance and get more in shape for his MCU debut: “My first thought was, ‘Oh my god I can’t believe this is happening.’ My second thought was, ‘Oh fuck, I have to now get in shape.’ It was important to me because I was the first Pakistani superhero, like in a mainstream Hollywood movie, and a Marvel movie. I thought, I want to look like somebody who could hang with Thor and Captain America. I didn’t want to like also be the first schlubby superhero.”
Chris Hemsworth, “In the Heart of the Sea”
Chris Hemsworth’s onscreen image is defined by his muscular Thor physique, which is why he shocked fans by shedding a ton of weight for his role in Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea.” To accurately play a whaler stranded on a deserted island, the actor committed to a 500-calorie-a-day diet. Hemsworth spoke to Entertainment Tonight about the transformation, explaining, “We have to shoot the really skinny stuff where we drop down…it’s going to be pretty uncomfortable, but we’ll be together in our misery,” Hemsworth told ET. “I spend more time thinking about food than anything else at the moment.”
Marion Cotillard, “La Vie en Rose”
Marion Cotillard’s dramatic transformation into Edith Piaf for the biographical drama “La Vie en Rose” earned Oscars for Best Actress and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. As reported by Vogue: “She had to shave her eyebrows and part of her head to imitate the singer’s hair implant. Marion Cotillard also had to undergo a radical vocal transformation by practicing lowering her voice several tones, plus five hours of daily makeup. A rigorous exercise coupled with posture play made her appear as small and frail as Edith Piaf. Cotillard later revealed that it took her several months to separate from her character, who, according to her, simply refused to leave her body and mind.”