14/10/2020 15:25 BST | Updated 30/07/2021 13:07 BST

20 Incredible Movie Transformations That Left These Hollywood Stars Unrecognisable

Some actors are willing to really suffer for their art.

Jared Leto left film fans open-mouthed when they got their first glimpse of the Irish actor in the upcoming House Of Gucci film, with a transformation that left him unrecognisable

But Jared isn’t the first star to undergo a dramatic change to his appearance for the sake of a role.

Here’s our round-up of the most incredible transformations to ever grace the big screen...

Colin Farrell

Colin is set to appear as Oswald Cobblepot – otherwise known as the classic comic book villain The Penguin – in The Batman, which is due for release in March 2022. The Irish star looked unrecognisable in heavy prosthetics on the set of the blockbuster in Liverpool.

Colin Farrell during the filming of The Batman taking place in Liverpool.
Colin Farrell 

Charlize Theron

Who knew makeup could turn one of Hollywood’s most beautiful people into someone so unrecognisable? When Charlize appeared on screen as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, we couldn’t believe our eyes. She went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress, an accolade we think was well deserved.

Remstar Films
Getty Editorial
Charlize her Best Actress statue for her role in Monster.

Jared Leto

Jared lost a ton of weight and bleached off his eyebrows to play the role of transgender AIDS sufferer Rayon in 2014′s Dallas Buyers Club. The role won the actor/singer a Golden Globe, as well as an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Jared Leto holding his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Jared Leto (again)

Dallas Buyers Club wasn’t the first time Jared Leto went on a drastic diet for a film role. But back in 2007 he piled the weight ON to play John Lennon’s assassin Mark Chapman in Chapter 27.

Jared Leto as Mark Chapman.

Jared Leto (AGAIN)

In the upcoming film House Of Gucci, Jared plays Paolo Gucci, the former vice president and managing director of the fashion house Gucci – and once again, his transformation is dramatic to say the least, wearing heavy facial prosthetics and sporting a receding hairline. 


Matthew McConaughey

It wasn’t just Jared Leto who underwent a radical transformation for Dallas Buyers Club. Matthew McConaughey lost almost a quarter of his own body weight to play AIDS sufferer Ron Woodfroof, which he won an Oscar for. Despite admitting a loss of sex drive and occasional irritability while he was dieting, the actor also claimed the calorie restriction led to increased mental agility: “What I lost down there, I gained up here,” he said at the time.

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Matthew McConaughey

Mariah Carey

Mariah played a social worker in Precious, which was an awards season favourite following its release in 2010. And it’s not every day you see the diva totally made-under.

Getty Editorial
Mariah looking like her usual (fabulous) self.

50 Cent

The US rapper lost more than 50 pounds after liquid dieting and running on a treadmill three hours a day to play a celebrated football player battling cancer in 2011′s All Things Fall Apart.

50 Cent (Curtis Jackson)

Glenn Close

Glenn Close played a woman posing as a man in 2011′s Albert Nobbs. The actress truly disappeared into the role and earned herself a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Unfortunately, she didn’t take home the award, but she was up against some stiff competition (i.e. Meryl Streep).

E1 Films
Getty Editorial
Glenn walking the red carpet at the 84th annual Academy Awards show, where she was nominated for her role in Albert Nobbs.

Christian Bale

If there’s one actor in Hollywood who can be described as a chameleon, it’s Christian Bale. Whether he’s losing weight for his roles in The Machinist (below) and The Fighter, sporting a beer-belly and a comb-over in American Hustle, or bulking up and wearing prosthetics to play former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in Vice (below), Christian disappears into every role he signs up for.

The actor lost 60lbs thanks to a diet of "coffee and apples" for his role in 2004's The Machinist.
Annapuma Pictures
Christian played former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in Vice.
Getty Editorial
Christian Bale holds his Oscar statue after winning for his role in The Fighter.

Meryl Streep

Meryl has been nominated more than any actor ever for both the Oscars and the Golden Globes so we’re used to seeing her take on a variety of roles. In 2011, she transformed into ‘The Iron Lady’ herself, Margaret Thatcher, and gave another Oscar-winning performance.

Alliance Films
Getty Editorial
Meryl showing off her award for Best Actress at the 84th annual Academy Awards.

Matthew Fox

The Lost star shed 40 pounds to play Picasso, a professional assassin who participates in an underground ultimate-fighting ring, in 2012′s Alex Cross. Speaking about his weight-loss regime, the actor said: “It was circuit training until I wanted to puke.”

Summit Entertainment
Matthew Fox

Nicole Kidman

After being fitted with a prosthetic nose for her lead role in 2002′s The Hours, Nicole Kidman managed to go largely unnoticed by the paparazzi, which was handy as she was going through a divorce from Tom Cruise at the time.

Yahoo Celebrity UK
Nicole Kidman 

Tom Cruise

Speaking of Tom, the actor was a sight to behold as fat, balding Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. And fair play to the usually impeccably turned out and (let’s face it) uber handsome star for agreeing to send himself up on screen.

Tom Cruise

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth is yet another actress who won an Oscar for a role in which her character posed as a male. Gwynnie jumped back and forth between male and female throughout Shakespeare In Love, which added to the impressive role, but it was the moustache that sold it for us. 

Alliance Atlantis
Getty Editorial
Gwyneth holding her statue after winning Best Actress for Shakespeare In Love at the 71st Academy Awards.

Jake Gyllenhaal

It took the American actor five months of intense diet and training to bulk up to play boxing champ Billy Hope in 2015′s Southpaw. This is all the more impressive as it came straight after Jake underwent dramatic weight loss to star in Nightcrawler.

Wanda Pictures
Jake Gyllenhaal
Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP
Jake Gyllenhaal

Hilary Swank

Hilary transformed into Brandon Teena, the real-life transgender man the film was about, and won the Best Actress statue for her moving portrayal.

Fox Searchlight
Getty Editorial
Hilary posing with her Oscar after winning for her role in Boys Don't Cry.

Rooney Mara

Rooney’s turn as Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was definitely a career booster for the young actress. It was her first major role and it landed her an Oscar nom for Best Actress. Once she chopped her hair, dyed it black, bleached her brows, and got some new piercings, it was hard not to notice Rooney.

Sony Pictures
Rooney Mara's turn as Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's
Getty Editorial
Rooney on the red carpet at the 84th Academy Awards show where she was nominated for Best Actress for her role in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Melissa Leo

When Melissa Leo appeared in The Fighter she looked like a completely different person - that over-bleached and puffy hair really made her character. The actress won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and was so surprised that she dropped the F-bomb during her acceptance speech.

Alliance Films
Getty Editorial
Melissa holding her award for Best Supporting Actress after winning for her role in The Fighter.