Transformation is at the core of the art that is acting. The more an actor succeeds in becoming another person, the more authentic the experience is for the viewer. A physical transformation on top of that only goes further in achieving a rebirth on stage or screen. These fourteen actors have played numerous critically-praised roles in their careers, but they will, among other things, be remembered for these incredible cases of acting metamorphosis.
1. Ralph Fiennes in Harry Potter
One might think it’s pretty easy to transform when one has their nose removed, but Fiennes transformation from a mild-mannered gentleman into the darkest wizard of all time is much more than that.
Source: IMDb | Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
2. Tilda Swinton in Trainwreck
Tilda went full So-Cal with her beachy look in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck which is a long way from her usual shorter cut.
Source: IMDb | Mary Cybulski | Universal Pictures
3. John Leguizamo in Spawn
Believe it or not, that’s John Leguizamo underneath all that prosthetic makeup and leather stands bustling with creepy energy.
4. Elizabeth Banks in The Hungers Games
Around Tinseltown, Elizabeth Banks is known for her vibrant energy and youthful demeanor, but in The Hunger Games she shocked fans with her elderly appearance.
Source: IMDb | Murray Close | Lion’s Gate Films Inc.
5. Johnny Depp in Tusk
Critics did not find Johnny Depp’s role in this 2014 particularly praise-worthy, but no one can say that his physical transformation is anything but stunning.
6. Rebecca Romijn in X-Men
Rebecca Romijn wore this breathtaking piece from X-Men: The Last Stand perfectly. Usually an extension of the character, this piece is a legitimate work of art on its own.
7. Sean Penn in Carlito’s Way
Who knew that Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High could transform into what looks like a rugged divorce attorney? Well, Sean Penn did, as he has done dramatic transformations over and over again during an illustrious career.
8. Glenn Close in Hook
You might not have known this when you saw Hook as a kid, but the pirate who got locked up with all those scorpions was indeed none other than the thespian legend, Glenn Close.
Source: YouTube | jn12186
9. Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder
To portray Les Grossman in this satirical comedy directed by Ben Stiller, Cruise used a fatsuit, fake large hands, and a bald cap.
10. Halle Berry in Cloud Atlas
Almost all the lead characters in this mystery movie whose story spans centuries had multiple roles, but none of them were more fascinating than Halle Berry’s transformation into a middle-aged Asian man.
Source: IMDb | Reiner Bajo | Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
11. Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice
If you mainly associate Michael Keaton with Birdman or Batman, you should set aside a couple of hours for this 1980s classic that launched his career.
Source: IMDb | Warner Brothers
12. Emma Thompson in Nanny McPhee
The usually elegant and stunning Emma Thompson did an unreal transformation for this comedy fantasy Victorian England story based on Christianna Brand’s Nurse Mathilda books.
Source: IMDb | Liam Daniel | Universal Studios
13. John Travolta in Hairspray
To say John Travolta became Edna Turnblad in the musical romantic comedy Hairspray would be a huge understatement. Travolta transformation into an agoraphobic obese woman was impeccable.
Source: IMDb | David James
14. Charlize Theron in Monster
To portray the mentally ill former prostitute and serial killer Aileen Wuornos, the South African beauty gained 30 pounds, shaved off her eyebrows and wore prosthetic teeth.