17 Times Movie Stars De-Glamorized For A Role And It Totally Paid Off

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Vote up the dramatic actor transformations that were worth the effort.

Hollywood is a place defined by glitz and glamour. It is a beautiful place for beautiful people, and that is the image it wants to portray to the world at large. That being said, some of the most memorable performances by some of Tinseltown's most famous actors can be demarcated by a deliberate de-glamorization. Nothing says "this actor is taking this seriously" like a bunch of prosthetic makeup or voluntary weight gain. Legendary performances like Charlize Theron in Monster or Tom Hanks in Cast Away come to mind, but there are plenty more to highlight, as well.

It can be simple costuming choices (Halle Berry in Monster's Ball), aggressive weight loss (Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler), or even a fake nose (Nicole Kidman in The Hours). No matter what form the transformation takes, here are some of the best de-glamorizations Hollywood has ever seen.


  • In 2003, Charlize Theron was ranked No. 1 on AskMen.com's "Top 99 Most Desirable Women," a leering list of female celebs that was all "about choosing the 99 women that AskMen.com readers and staff would most desire as a girlfriend, wife, and everything in between." We only bring up this superfluous list to highlight how popular the beautiful Theron was in the same year Monster was released.

    That 2003 drama earned Theron her Oscar for best actress as she was de-glamorized to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos. She was caked in makeup to make her skin appear damaged. She wore contact lenses and dentures to alter her face. She gained around 30 pounds before shooting began. Viewers hardly recognized Theron as she completely disappeared into the role and proved she was one of the best actors of her generation in the process. 

    204 votes
  • Tom Hanks loved working on Cast Away. While speaking on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Hanks stated, "It was nothing but adventures every single day." He got to make a movie with his good friend Robert Zemeckis (director of Forrest Gump). He got to take in the beautiful weather of Fiji. His entire family was there with him for the shoot. That being said, the whole thing was pretty grueling for Hanks.

    Before the production started, he gained nearly 50 pounds of weight to play Chuck Noland, a FedEx employee who ends up stranded in the middle of the ocean for four years. Then, halfway through production, they shut down shooting for a year so Hanks could lose all the weight he had gained and grow out his hair. Nothing makes it seem like you've actually been living on a desolate island for years like shedding 50 pounds. That is some serious commitment to a project.

    174 votes
  • With his chiseled jaw, deep brown eyes, and incredible accent, Javier Bardem is just a handsome man. There is no way around it. Even when you slap a ridiculous blond wig on him to play a Bond villain, he's still an attractive guy. Of course, the Coen brothers and the production team behind No Country for Old Men figured out how to de-glamorize the actor in the most unexpected way possible: Give him a bob haircut. There is just something ineffable about a murderous psychopath running around Texas with a bob. Even describing it is weird.

    You can thank Canadian hairdresser Paul LeBlanc for the unmistakable look. "[W]hen knights and Muslims were murdering each other... this was a typical haircut," he told The Guardian. "It was a dangerous time, and we wanted to make Javier timeless and dangerous at first sight." Well, mission accomplished on that front.

    124 votes
  • Look, Steve Carell was never the prototypical Hollywood star. Brad Pitt, the dude is not. But films like Crazy, Stupid, Love and Date Night showed the man was leading man material that could hang with the best of them. Realistically, Carell is just a pretty handsome guy. So when the comedic icon signed on to play convicted murderer John Eleuthère du Pont in 2014's Foxcatcher, the production team used some subtle prosthetics to make him less handsome and funny and more weird and creepy.

    Playing the socially awkward du Pont required the actor to spend three hours in a makeup chair before every day of shooting, and it caused him to have some serious isolation from the rest of the cast. Granted, that loneliness helped him convincingly play his character, and he leaned into it. "I didn’t choose to connect socially," he told Variety. "That aspect of it was hard because I like being around people and keeping things light. I had to let that go." He ended up nominated for the Academy Award for best actor, so it clearly worked out quite well.

    65 votes
  • It is much easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. Why do you think obesity is such a problem in the United States? Because food is amazing, and there is a lot of it. Somehow, Matthew McConaughey managed to lose nearly 50 pounds in just four months to play AIDS patient Ron Woodroof for 2013's Dallas Buyers Club. A nutritionist helped him plan out meals, he chomped on a lot of ice, and McConaughey got the job done. However, there were some unexpected side effects of shedding all that weight so quickly.

    "I became clinically aware, almost hyper," he told the BBC. "I needed three hours less sleep a night. I had an amazing amount of energy from the head up. That was something I didn't know was going to happen." It worked out for the Texas-born star, as he went home with the Academy Award for best actor that year on the back of his performance.

    108 votes
  • Nowadays, everyone knows about Christian Bale and his intense antics when it comes to shaping his body for a role. Before he was famous, he was losing an unhealthy amount of weight to play a man suffering from insomnia in The Machinist. Immediately following that, he got shredded to play the role that made him a household name in Batman Begins. He would continue to transform himself over the years in everything from The Fighter, where he played an emaciated drug addict, to Vice, where he used weight gain and prosthetics to play Dick Cheney. But it was his role as Irving Rosenfeld in 2013's American Hustle, years before Vice, that saw the English actor first put on a ton of weight for a movie.

    He gained somewhere around 50 pounds and donned a truly terrible comb-over to play the seedy con artist. Yes, less than a year after playing Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, Bale was carrying a massive beer belly around on set for David O. Russell's black comedy. Bale's decision to dedicate himself to his craft probably isn't the most healthy thing in the world - but what are you gonna do? 

    79 votes