Acting takes some serious physical talent, though that talent doesn’t come from actors and actresses alone. Behind every star, there’s usually a team of brilliant hair and makeup people creating the iconic looks of your favorite characters.
We’ve gathered a few of our favorite and most dramatic movie makeup transformations to celebrate the craft of movie makeup. Foregoing special effects for wigs, prosthetics, and sometimes a lot of eyeliner, these before and after photos are truly something special to see.
Heath Ledger – The Joker (The Dark Night)
Heath Ledger‘s performance on the movie The Dark Night was unforgettable, to say the least. He transformed into the character. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly after the movie got released. But his triumphant accomplishment was righteously recognized by the jurors and was a given a posthumous Oscar (one of the few people to get it). We can all agree that Heath was a truly amazing actor.
Jared Leto – Old Nemo (Mr.Nobody)
Possibly, Hollywood’s most underrated actor, Jared Leto has made a name for himself. He’s known for physically becoming the characters he plays on the big screen. Well, with a little help from the makeup artists, anything can become real. Known for being a method actor, Leto, in this case, would need a time machine to legitimately become this character.
Daveigh Chase – Samara (The Ring)
Who can forget Samara? She was one of the scariest characters to ever showcase in the big screens. Brilliantly played by the actress Daveigh Chase, this scary demon from the movie, The Ring became more popular than the actress herself. With such a realistic costume/makeup, we can only wonder if the actress got scared when looking at herself in the mirror.
Michael Keaton – Betelgeuse (Beetlejuice)
Michael Keaton is an iconic actor with too many great roles to list here. The movie, Beetlejuice is just one of them. In fact, the makeover he went through to play Betelgeuse is so incredible that he’s unrecognizable. Interestingly, the only recognizable factor here is his great acting. If his name was not in the credits, we would never know Keaton was casted for this film. That’s the magic of the movies.
Danny DeVito – Penguin (Batman Returns)
Danny DeVito, could be considered Hollywood’s most charismatic person. From comedy to action, he can do it all. But If you’re a Batman fan, you’ll certainly remember DeVito’s acting as the villain Penguin, in the movie Batman Returns. It’s arguably one of the best acting he’s ever done. With the help of the makeup artists and costume designers DeVito’s portrayal of the con-man of Gotham remains timeless.
Robin Williams – Mrs. Doubtfire (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Playing a women on screen is one of the most difficult challenges for a male actor. Few actors have surpassed this challenge and Robin Williams is one of these actors. Interestingly, the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire is about an actor that disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend time with his children which were held in custody. That might be something to think of if you’re just going through a divorce.
Naomi Grossman – Pepper (American Horror Story Series)
The show, American Horror Story is probably one of the most watched shows in television history. And Naomi Grossman’s performance contributed immensely to this success. She plays the character, Pepper the Pinhead and the makeup artist nailed it. Many fans were floored after finding out Naomi was the person who played Pepper. It’s like a beauty to beast transformation. Few people can pull that. Cudos to her.
Jacob Tremblay – Auggie (Wonder)
The film, Wonder showcases Jacob Tremblay true artistic talent. In the movie Wonder, Jacob plays Auggie, who’s a real life character with a disability known as cranio-facial condition. Interpreting a real person with a disability is a demanding task for any actor, let alone actors his age. In tis case, Jacob and the makeup artist stole the show. What a duo! This kid has a bright a future.
Richard Brake – The Knight King (Game of Thrones)
Here, we see a great combo. Richard Brake, who’s an outstanding actor plus an extremely elaborate and cool makeup. Even though it looks like its computer generated, it’s not. Pictures on set prove that this makeup artist transformed Richard into one of the most popular characters in HBO’s history. Richard’s superb acting also helped.
Eddie Murphy – Saul (Coming to America)
Form stand up comedy to box office hits, Eddie Murphy has done it all. Playing the character Saul in the movie, Coming to America, is yet another one of Murphy’s spectacular accomplishments. There’s rumors that the after the make-up and clothing was applied on Eddie, he got a golf cart and drove from one studio department to another, introducing himself, but no one believed it was him. Must be a blast to work with this guy.
Helena Bonham Carter – Red Queen (Alice Through the Looking Glass)
Whichever character Helena Bonham Carter plays, she sure makes it memorable to the audience. Even though a big portion of the film, Alice Through The Looking Glass was computer generated, most of the makeup was done on set. In order to transport the viewer to the surrealistic world that the film portrayed, makeup and costume design had to be on point. The character, Red Queen, played by Helena proves exactly that.
Cate Blanchett – Bob Dylan (I’m Not There)
Cate Blanchett, is an actress that is worth watching independent of what the movie is about. It’s incredible to see her at work. In the film, I’m Not There, she interprets the male singer, Bob Dylan and that must’ve been a laborious work. But in Cate’s case hard-work paid off. She’s one of the only females to play the role of a male singer. Having that in her resume certainly sets her apart.
Glenn Close – Gutless (Hook)
Starring alongside an A-List cast of actors, Glenn Close’s participation in the film Hook, as the pirate, Gutless left film goers and jurors in awe. Even though she didn’t get any awards for this role, her perfomance was surely incredible. Funny enough, she actually looks good as a male pirate.
Bill Skarsgård – Pennywise (It)
Bill Skarsgård comes from an acting family and that explains his talent. In the movie It, there’s no physical resemblance of Bill in the character, Pennywise. It’s said that it took several hours in the costume design room for Bill to become the scary clown. And become it, he went through extraneous hair and makeup daily routine. But at the end it was certainly worth it.
Johnny Depp – Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Undoubtedly, one of the most famous pirates in Disney long list of iconic characters. Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp, gained a notorious following. Pirates of the Caribbean fans love the hilarious, drunk pirate and the costume design made Depp almost even funnier. His humorous approach when playing Captain Sparrow added a lot to the movie and audiences cherished that.
John Rhys-Davies – Gimli (Lord of the Rings)
The franchise, Lord of the Rings won four Academy Awards including hair and makeup. That’s an astonishing achievement. One of the most notable makeovers was John Rhys-Davies transformation to become the hobbit, Gimli. In fact, the changes were so extreme that if it wasn’t for pictures, we wouldn’t even know how John looks like in real life.
Jared Leto – The Joker (Suicide Squad)
The Joker, is possibly one of the most intense villains in the DC world and actors decide to play him exactly because of that. For actors like Jared Leto, The Joker is a dream role. So we can say Leto accomplished his dream. For this role, he lost weight, worked out and worked closely with the makeup artists in order to do the best he could. Even though the movie was heavily criticized, he did bring a fresh look to this iconic character.
Ian McKellen – Gandalf (Lord Of The Rings)
The Lord of the Rings franchise was an undoubtful box office success, breaking numerous records worldwide. And it’s hard not to associate this movie with one of its main characters, Gandalf, who’s played by the brilliant actor, Ian McKellen. In order for Ian to become Gandalf, both physical and aesthetical changes had to happen and it successfully did. It’s now counter intuitive to think of Ian, without thinking of Gandalf.
Leonardo DiCaprio – Hugh Glass (The Revenant)
The Revenant was an hyperrealistic period piece. As a viewer, it felt like you were transported into that harsh war zone. Without much dialogue, Leonardo DiCaprio’s role, was major contributor to the notoriety the film gained. But it’s important to shine a light on the hair and makeup department. They were the key players for making the film reach new heights. Congrats hair and makeup people, your efforts are recognized!
Gary Oldman – Mason Verger (Hannibal)
When mentioning the movie, Hannibal, we automatically think of the actor Anthony Hopkins. He had an outstanding performance in it, but we rarely think of Gary Oldman. In this film, Gary plays, Mason Verger who’s a heavily disfigured pedophile. In order to make Gary look like a heavily disfigured person, it took a lot of work, and it was righteously recognized by jurors. Many awards were given to the art department.