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14 Celebs Who Became Unrecognizable for a Movie or TV Role

The use of prosthetic makeup in films goes all the way back to 1902 for the French film A Trip to the Moon. Since then, special effects on the actors’ looks to create whole new characters have inspired filmmakers and writers to imagine a richer storyline for the audience. Sometimes, these effects even go above and beyond by concealing a famous star underneath.

Bright Side is always inspired by the use of creativity and star power together. That’s why we listed some of our favorite performances that incorporate prosthetic makeup.

1. Chris Evans in Avengers: Endgame

The Avengers wouldn’t be complete without their leader calling the shots in every mission. That’s why when Captain America decided to go back in time and rewrite his life in Endgame, the older captain eventually gave his shield to his successor, the Falcon.

Initially, the crew decided to give the role a try with elderly actors, but they didn’t quite fit. It was clear that Chris Evans was still the perfect actor to play Old Man Cap. With convincing makeup and superb acting skills, Chris pulled it off in a snap.

2. Oscar Isaac in X-Men: Apocalypse

Awakening an ancient mutant is essentially a scary thing to do, given how he looks when he’s angry. For actor Oscar Isaac to do that, he had to don heavy makeup and a costume to portray a centuries-old villain in the 1980s Egypt in X-Men: Apocalypse.

This comic-accurate getup includes high-heeled boots, extensive makeup, and other prosthetics. Although Oscar once admitted the experience was “excruciating,” ultimately, he pulled off a fantastic performance.

3. Tilda Swinton in The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Tilda Swinton is like a chameleon when appearing in her famous roles, and one of them was portraying Madame D. in The Grand Budapest Hotel. To help Tilda look like a wealthy old lady, the makeup crew decided to use rubber silicone to mimic aging skin and added a few details like bright lipstick and a few liver spots.

4. Karen Gillan in Guardians of the Galaxy

Image supplied by Capital Pictures / EAST NEWS, © SharpShooter / Depositphotos.com

They didn’t just use bright blue metallic makeup and a lot of prosthetics to transform into the bionic Nebula. Still, Karen Gillan opted to shave her head and say goodbye to her beautiful red locks to get the perfect look in Guardians of the Galaxy. The crew took 15 minutes to put the makeup on and 30 minutes to remove it from Karen, as it was made of 5 different layers.

5. Eddie Murphy in Coming 2 America

© Coming 2 America / Paramount Pictures and co-producers, Kristin Callahan / Everett Collection / East News

Aside from playing Prince Akeem, Eddie Murphy has had several characters up his sleeve in Coming to America and its sequel, Coming 2 America. Each character had unique facial characteristics that made the crew scratch their heads when it was time for Eddie to switch to another role. Each look had 15 to 20 pieces of prosthetics, and a dozen of wigs prepared.

6. Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Searchlight Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection / East News, Stuart Hardy / ABACAPRESS.COM / Abaca / East News

Playing a famous television personality was a challenge for Jessica Chastain, but it didn’t stop her from winning Best Actress at the 2022 Oscars. The silicon cheeks, nose, and chin that really helped transform Jessica into Tammy Faye Bakker were probably worth it. The makeup and prosthetics team also won an Oscar for their superb work.

7. Renée Zellweger in Judy

CAP / RFS / Capital Pictures / East News, © Featureflash / Depositphotos.com

A Hollywood legend like Judy Garland deserved an exceptional biopic, and award-winning actress Renée Zellweger pulled it off excellently. Renée had to don a dark wig to match Judy’s hair, a set of fake teeth, brown contact lenses, and thick false lashes to look like the adult Judy. These paid off since Renée got praise for her performance and even won an Oscar in 2020.

8. Anjelica Huston in The Addams Family

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The Addams Family movies are full of so many iconic moments and looks. It even has a massive following today. One of the most legendary characters is the family matriarch Morticia, played by actress Anjelica Huston.

But to perfect that campy, ice-cold look by Morticia, Anjelica had to undergo intense makeup with tape holding her cheekbones higher. Fake lashes and nails were also used to complete the exaggerated get-up.

9. Danny DeVito in Batman Returns

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Becoming one of Batman’s villains needed a cartoonish take on the appearance of the actors. In the comics, Oscar Cobblepot, known as The Penguin, has a small stature and a pointed nose resembling a penguin’s beak. To get this over-the-top look, actor Danny DeVito underwent facial prosthetic applications, fake teeth, and excessive makeup to get the perfect bad guy ensemble.

10. Charlize Theron in Bombshell

Hilary B Gayle / Capital Pictures / East News, © Jean_Nelson / Depositphotos.com

Being an A-lister makes it more challenging to vanish on the screen and appear as a whole new person. Charlize Theron did exactly that when she played news anchor Megyn Kelly in the movie Bombshell. The makeup team really went with copying Megyn’s facial features including the nose, eyes, and cheekbones. Charlize even had to wear individual lashes just to get the perfect eye shape.

11. Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose

French actress Marion Cotillard didn’t spare any time from transforming into renowned singer Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. Aside from the striking facial makeup mixed with acrylic and latex prosthetics she had to wear to mimic Edith’s look, she also donned a bodysuit to appear bulkier.

12. Ben Stiller in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

It is so much fun to spot a cameo from the main star of a film. In this case, Ben Stiller not only played the protagonist Larry Daley. He also went primal as a caveman who came to life in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Ben had to wear prosthetics and a heavy wig to resemble a Neanderthal. His transformation was even documented in a short called Becoming Laaa.

13. James McAvoy in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection / East News, © PopularImages / Depositphotos.com

James McAvoy was nearly unrecognizable when he first appeared onscreen as the fawn Mr. Tumnus in the first installment of The Chronicles of Narnia. James had to undergo hours of prosthetic applications, including a live cast and ear extensions to resemble Tumnus’ goat-like ears, fake hair, and hooves.

14. Jamie Campbell Bower in Stranger Things

© Stranger Things / Netflix and co-producers, Invision / Invision / East News

The latest season of Stranger Things introduced us to one of the biggest nightmares in Hawkins, Vecna. Vecna is being played by actor Jamie Campbell Bower, who looks and sounds so much different in real life.

Instead of opting for CGI, the special effects team resorted to using 25 pieces of latex and silicone rubber material glued to Jamie’s body with adhesive, which took them roughly 7 and a half hours to complete.

How many character transformations have fooled you before? Are they on our list? What are they?

Preview photo credit Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb / Twentieth Century Fox and co-producers, Invision / Invision / East News, Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection / East News, PopularImages / Depositphotos.com
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