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10 Actors Who Underwent Jaw-Dropping Metamorphoses to Play a Role

Some actors don’t hesitate to completely change their appearance in order to play a specific role. Whether it’s gaining several pounds or spending hours in hair and makeup, they build up the courage and patience because they’re up for anything.

Bright Side collected photos of 14 actors and actresses who drastically changed their looks to bring a challenging character to life.

1. Marion Cotillard — La Vie En Rose (2007)

To play Edith Piaf, Marion Cotillard gave herself, body and soul, to the task: she shaved her eyebrows and part of her skull and worked to change her voice. We’re not even counting the 5 hours she spent in hair and makeup daily.

The actress became so immersed in her role that it took her several months to free herself from the character — it inhabited her, and it didn’t seem to want to leave. “I went to Peru to Machu Picchu and did ancient shamanic ceremonies to cleanse myself,” she stated in an interview.

2. Pierre Niney — Through the Fire (2018)

In Through the Fire, Pierre Niney plays a young firefighter who suffers severe burns during his first assignment.

To prepare for the role, he spent 4 months at a station physically training with firefighters. He was also guided by a nutritionist and gained 20 pounds of muscle. He then had to quickly lose this weight (and more!) to film the second part of the movie.

3. Vincent Cassel — Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008)

To play public enemy No. 1, Vincent Cassel had to gain 44 pounds in 4 months. It took him 9 months during the filming stage to get back to his regular shape.

This is an outstanding physical achievement! Christian Bale, Hollywood’s chameleon, has a worthy opponent right here.

“We shot the other way around because I knew I couldn’t gain weight while working. (...) This is the last time I subject my body to such abrupt changes!”

4. Guillaume Canet — Rock’n Roll (2017)

In this absurd comedy, inspired by his own life, Guillaume Canet undergoes an existential crisis and abuses cosmetic surgery. He appears onscreen with a heavily retouched face and fully inflated muscles. He transformed himself with prostheses that were made by make-up artist Olivier Alfonso.

To promote the film, he and actress Marion Cotillard posted photos of themselves on Instagram. Puffy lips, a facelift, all this was enough to deceive fans. But don’t worry, it was all fake!

5. Alain Chabat — Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

In Luc Besson’s latest success, which he shared with other Hollywood stars like Clive Owen, Rihanna, and Cara Delevigne, the actor got the role of Bob, the pirate.

It’s challenging to recognize Alain Chabat in this film, so you have to look at him very carefully. He grew his hair and beard, then kept the beard look to shoot the movie Santa & Cie. He liked the beard so he kept it even after shooting the film.

6. Gérard Depardieu — Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar (1999)

Asterix was played by 3 different actors who gave life to the character in 3 different films; Obélix was played by the talented and irreplaceable: Gérard Depardieu. From Gaul, in the first movie, to Great Britain, and through Egypt, he didn’t get a single wrinkle. That picturesque mustache and those redheaded braids were faithful to his character. Oh, and let’s not forget his loyal 4-legged friend, Idefix!

7. Omar Sy — X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

After his applauded success in international cinema with The Intouchables, Omar Sy played one of his first American roles as Bishop, a mutant from the future, in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Red contact lenses, dreadlocks, and a scar on his face... those were enough to change the hilarious, smiling characters he used to play.

“Doctor X’s chair is easier to use, because it moves forward by itself,” he joked during an interview.

8. Gérard Darmon — Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002)

In Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, Gérard Darmon trades his gray hair for a rather unique hairstyle and a long triangular beard that resembles a viper’s tongue. There he plays the Machiavellian Amonbofis, Cleopatra’s official architect.
From the tip of his yellow hat to his slippers, he’s Ammonbofis’ legitimate copy from the Asterix and Cleopatra comics, which inspired the film.

9. Vincent Cassel — Beauty and the Beast (2014)

Under this Beast’s fur hides Vincent Cassel. No masks. No long hours of makeup. “Only” special effects and a muscle suit (a suit with false muscles). He was so hot that he says he lost 22 pounds while filming.

10. Maïwenn Le Besco — The Fifth Element (1997)

Diva Plavalaguna is, without a doubt, one of Luc Besson’s most cultured characters. This role was originally intended for a German model, but she dropped out before rehearsals began, leaving Luc Besson stressed and furious. Maïwenn Le Bosco, the director’s wife at the time, took her place.

It wasn’t easy. Maïwenn had to train to sing (although the original idea was to lip-dub), wear a pretty heavy alien head, drink from a straw, and sit on a special chair to avoid damaging her dress. This took more than 3 hours a day to put on the makeup and costume.

A short story: Luc Besson loves to surprise actors during filming. No one had ever seen the Diva or heard her voice. So, when the curtains were raised just before the opera scene, we can see the actors’ shock.

Which transformation did you find the most impressive? Do you know of other actors or actresses who have radically transformed their bodies to play a role? Feel free to share your photos down here in the comments.

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