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8 Movie Stars Who Put Art First and Drastically Changed Their Look for a Role

Experienced teams of makeup artists and hairstylists are available on movie and TV show sets, and practical effects, such as prosthetics makeup, are always within reach in today’s day and age. However, a few talented names from cinema and television still prefer to change for the role physically. Some actors seem to have mastered the art of making chameleon-like transformations, whether they lose tons of weight, bulk up, or decide to go completely bald.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster — Death of a Superhero (2011)

The Irish drama, Death of a Superhero, stars Thomas Brodie-Sangster in the role of 15-year-old Donald Clarke. The character is terminally ill, and to portray him, the actor shaved his hair and eyebrows completely.

Cameron Diaz — Being John Malkovich (1999)

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Shortly after her debut as an actress in the movie The Mask (1994), Cameron Diaz played Lotte Schwartz alongside John Cusack in Being John Malkovich. In the movie, Diaz adopted a very different look, sporting brown contact lenses, curly brown hair, and barely any makeup.

Tom Hanks — Philadelphia (1993)

In Philadelphia, Tom Hanks helps tell the story of a gay man who was fired after discovering he had AIDS. For the role of Andrew Beckett, Hanks lost 26 pounds, and the performance eventually earned him an Oscar.

Michael Fassbender — Hunger (2008)

Hunger is a historical drama about a hunger strike, and for the film, Michael Fassbender had to drop 35 pounds to depict the real-life person, Bobby Sands. The weight loss is especially shocking for those who remember the actor in the epic movie, 300 (2006), in which he displayed a muscled physique.

Emma Thompson — Wit (2001)

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Emma Thompson is someone we’re used to seeing completely transformed, thinking back on her roles on Nanny McPhee (2005) and in the Harry Potter saga. However, in 2001, she changed drastically for a more dramatic performance in the film Wit. In the movie, she portrayed Vivian Bearing, a professor whose life takes a turn after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The actress shaved her head and bleached her eyebrows for the role.

Joaquín Phoenix — Joker (2019)

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The origin story of Joker led Joaquín Phoenix to lose more than 50 pounds to portray the main character, Arthur Fleck. Throughout the dramatic transformation process, the star sought medical guidance to ensure he was still safe and healthy.

David Harbour — Stranger Things (2016-present)

After 3 successful seasons as Jim Hopper in Netflix’s hit show, Stranger Things, and a dramatic season finale, fans were left wondering if David Harbour would be back for the fourth season. However, his return to the series was an even bigger surprise when he showed up significantly thinner. In preparation for the new turn in his character’s story, Harbour lost over 70 pounds.

Zac Efron for the upcoming movie, The Iron Claw

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Zac Efron is set to play Kevin Von Erich, a former pro wrestler, in the upcoming movie, The Iron Claw. While the film is still in production, the actor was spotted looking bulked up and donning a shocking bowl cut.

Bonus: Long after the success of Dirty Dancing, Jennifer Grey isn’t afraid to transform herself for her new roles.

The actress shared a sneak peek on her Instagram of the movie, Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation, in which she’ll be playing the lead role.

What other actors have you seen transform for a role recently?

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