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10 Actors’ Transformations That Are Too Impressive for Words

Not only is acting itself emotionally draining, but actors often have to play characters that don’t look like them at all. Whether it’s makeup so heavy that they can barely recognize themselves, uncomfortable prosthetics that take hours to apply, or CGI (computer-generated imagery) that requires their acting to be extremely precise — actors still have to stay genuine despite all these transformations.

Here at Bright Side, we’ve collected some of the most eye-popping transformations, and we hope you’ll find them just as surprising!

Robert Englund — A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Robert Englund’s look for his role of Freddy Krueger was so iconic that it’s now getting its own movie — Nightmares in the Makeup Chair. The movie will show the process of creating and applying prosthetics and makeup, as well as the story behind it. Though grateful for the success A Nightmare on Elm Street brought him, Englund is tired of talking about how long his makeup took (3 hours), so hopefully, the upcoming movie will answer some questions.

Stellan Skarsgård — Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Did you know that Stellan Skarsgård’s Bootstrap Bill was the only unusual looking pirate in the movie whose look wasn’t CGI at all? It was all makeup! It took 4.5 hours to put on and 1.5 hours to take off. According to Skarsgård, the hard thing wasn’t having the makeup on (it was silicon and followed the movements of his muscles exactly), it was taking it off because it gave him rashes and meant they couldn’t shoot for more than 3 days in a row.

Bill Nighy — Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

If Skarsgård’s look was all makeup, Bill Nighy’s look for the same movie was all CGI. The actor didn’t even get to wear a pirate costume — he had to wear a special pajama-like outfit with a skull cap on his head, which later on helped the CGI team transform him into the famous Davy Jones we all know. As for the actor’s face, motion capture dots were used, and his acting had to be extremely precise.

Margot Robbie — I, Tonya (2017)

With a tight budget and an even tighter filming schedule, it was quite a challenge turning the beautiful Margot Robbie into the “ugly duckling” of the skating world, Tonya Harding. The makeup department had to use lash adhesive to drag the corners of Margot’s eyes and mouth down, giving them a bit of a droop. In addition to that, the actress had to wear prosthetics on her cheeks, nose, chin, under her eyes, and around her neck. Fake freckles, braces, and lots of frizzy wigs completed the transformation.

Justin Theroux — Maniac (2018)

While this transformation may not seem as impressive as some others at first glance, there’s no way you actually recognized The Leftovers star Justin Theroux in Maniac’s Dr. Mantleray, right? Surprising what a simple wig, some makeup, and glasses can do. According to Theroux, Dr. Mantleray’s hair wasn’t supposed to look like a bad wig at first, but the actor found the hairpiece so terrible that he suggested they should play it up and make it an intentional part of his character.

Pom Klementieff — Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Besides prosthetics on her forehead and black contact lenses in her eyes, no other physical changes had to be done to Pom Klementieff who played an adorable alien named Mantis. The rest was CGI. However, it took the makeup team a long time to get her look just right: they tried different wigs and contact lenses and even drew veins on her face which made her look crazy, according to the actress.

Lupita Nyong’o — Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

J. J. Abrams, who directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, preferred physical special effects whenever possible. However, there was no way around CGI for some of the characters, including Maz Kanata played by Lupita Nyong’o. A great amount of tracking dots was used on her face to capture her emotions just right, and a special tracksuit was used to recreate her movements.

Emma Stone — Battle of the Sexes (2017)

For her role of the tennis icon Billy Jean King, petite Emma Stone gained 15 pounds of muscle in 3 months. In order to do it effectively, the actress did intensive strength training twice a day and drank high-calorie protein shakes. The costume department also went an extra mile in finding the same materials that were used to make tennis clothes back in the 1970s, to make Stone’s character even more authentic. Spray-tan, a ’70s shag haircut, and glasses completed her transformation.

Idris Elba — Star Trek Beyond (2016)

It’s hard to believe but Idris Elba’s look for the role of Krall in Star Trek Beyond was not CGI at all. It was a prosthetic head with prosthetic makeup that took 2 hours to apply. The prosthetic head had embedded fiber optics and tracing lights that helped enhance the villain’s transformation every time he took another character’s energy.

Josh Brolin — Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Actor Josh Brolin may be tall, but he’s definitely not Thanos tall — the purple mad titan measures over 8 ft. Add to that Thanos’s inhuman muscles and it becomes clear why the character had to be 100% CGI. Besides a motion capture suit, the actor had to wear big polystyrene shoulders and a tennis ball 2 ft above his head to make up for the height difference. At first, Brolin thought he was just a prop, but after seeing himself on the screen, he realized that he was actually very much himself, all thanks to the cutting-edge technology.

Bonus: CGI magic!

Curious how Bill Nighy’s, Lupita Nyong’o’s, and Josh Brolin’s CGI transformations came to life? Here’s what they looked like in the process of filming:

These dots on the actors’ faces are called tracking markers. They help track the actors’ movements and facial expressions and serve as a base to which digital artists attach characters’ digital skeletons. As you can see, computer-generated imagery has come a long way since 2006, when Bill Nighy was transformed into Davy Jones. Lupita Nyong’o’s and Josh Brolin’s faces have a lot more tracking markers on them which make their performances look even more genuine, despite their characters being 100% CGI.

Which actor’s transformation surprised you the most? Feel free to share with us in the comments.

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