15 Best Movie Makeup Transformations Of All Time

POSTED BY Ali Raza, UPDATED ON March 21st, 2024
15 Best Movie Makeup Transformations Of All Time

Actors go through various transformations to portray specific roles. From playing obese characters to superheroes, actors handle a ton of transformation to get into the shoes of specific characters. Today, we’re honoring 15 of the best movie makeup transformations of all time, so let’s get started.


15. Steve Carell in Fox Catcher (2014)

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Image Source: IMDb

When the trailers for Fox Catcher started rolling, people wondered where Steve Carell was. Little did they realize that the sinister-looking character they had been seeing throughout the trailer was none other than the once-goofy Steve Carell.

While he’s a fantastic actor, it’s the makeup department that made him look beyond recognition. Not many people caught him at first glance, and that’s why it’ll forever remain one of the best makeup transformations in films.


14. Tom Cruise in the Tropic Thunder (2008)

Tom Cruise in the Tropic Thunder (2008)

When the credits rolled for the Tropic Thunder, people saw a familiar name. The name was ‘Tom Cruise,’ and around half the audience was unsure whether it was a mistake or if they had missed half the movie.

That’s how good Tom Cruise’s transformation was. It’s been 15 years since the film, and now the people who worked on the movie say it was based on Stuart Cornfield.


13. Nicole Kidman in The Hours (2002)

The Hours (2002)

If you’ve watched The Hours and couldn’t find Nicole Kidman in the entire movie, then you can join the cue. More than half the audience thought it was a new actor playing the lead role of Virginia Woolf.

However, it was none other than Nicole Kidman under heavy makeup—which hid all of her distinguishable characteristics and traits. And 20 years after the film’s release, it’s now hailed as one of the best makeup jobs ever.   


12. Jim Carrey in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

It’s hard not to spot Jim Carrey in a movie. His energy that could light up a room is fairly easy to recognize, even in a star-studded cast. However, Jim Carrey looked like anything but himself in this film as the dreaded Count Olaf.

The film also marks one of the few times where Jim Carrey plays the bad guy. However, it was the unhinged look given to him by the makeup department—on top of his own that made this character a memorable one.


11. Gary Oldman in The Darkest Hour (2017)

Gary Oldman in The Darkest Hour (2017)

Gary Oldman isn’t the first actor you might think of when casting for Winston Churchill—the prime minister during the turbulent WWII times. However, if there’s an actor who can pull any sort of role, then it’s Gary Oldman.

Once he was cast, the challenge was to make him look like the controversial prime minister. So, when the film rolled on the big screen, a lot of jaws dropped seeing Oldman don the shows of the former British premier.  


10. Tilda Swinton in Suspiria (2018)

Tilda Swinton in Suspiria (2018)

If you watch Suspiria and cannot find Tilda Swinton in it, then we won’t blame you. That’s because her character is virtually impossible to spot—unless someone points you in that direction. In the film, Swinton plays two characters, Helena Markos and Dor. Jozef Klemperer.

This was so beyond recognition that the debate went on for months before the cast and crew settled that it was indeed Swinton who played the doctor—and not a male actor.


9. Stellan Skarsgård in Dune (2021)

Stellan Skarsgård in Dune (2021)

There are hardly any times when you cannot spot Stellan Skarsgård in movies because of his soothing voice and calm demeanor. However, that changed a bit in The Dune when he played Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

According to the actor, the film saw him wear 40 kilos of extra weight in the fat suit. Considering he had quite a bit of screen time, the effort of both the actor and makeup artists is commendable.


8. Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Another actress that you cannot spot in her movie is Jessica Chastain. When the trailers rolled for this film, it was almost impossible to recognize Jessica Chastain if it wasn’t for her iconic and sharp voice.

That’s when people started commending the makeup department for transforming the actor entirely. Nowadays, it’s widely considered one of the best makeup jobs done, and it also earned both the actor and the makeup artist the Oscars in their respective categories.


7. Christian Bale in Vice (2018)

Vice 2018

Christian Bale is known for his chameleon-like capability to disappear in characters. From Machinist to Batman, this actor is known to lose 110 pounds for the former and gain an additional 100 for the latter.

However, it was Vice that earned him his second-ever leading actor nomination for an Oscar. It was thanks largely to his 40-pound weight gain and the way the makeup department made him seemingly unrecognizable.


6. Charlize Theron in Monster (2003)

Charlize Theron in Monster 2003

Charlize Theron plays a seemingly harmless homeless woman in Monster. However, when things don’t go her way, she retorts to prostitution, and even then, things don’t work out for her. As a result, one of the most infamous serial killers was born.

To adorn the character of Aileen Wuornos, Charlize went through an extensive transformation phase where a lot of layers of makeup were put on her. The final result can be seen in the film, where she is unrecognizable.


5. John Hurt in The Elephant Man (1980)

The Elephant Man 1980

The Elephant Man is the true and tragic story of John Merrick. He was rescued from a roadside freak show by Sir Frederick Treves. The film tells the tragic and in-depth story of the misunderstood man. However, it’s the portrayal of the Elephant Man by John Hurt that moved a lot of people.

To play the deformed character, John Hurt sat in the makeup artist’s chair for around 7-8 hours every day. To this day, it’s one of the best makeup-based transformations ever recorded on film.


4. Colin Farrell in The Batman (2022)

Colin Farrell in The Batman (2022)

The Batman was a film of many firsts. It was the first time Batman had more screen time than Bruce Wayne. It was also the first time the Riddler was the main villain of Batman—instead of being a sidekick.

However, it was the first time when Colin Farrell wasn’t exactly recognized by many people before the credits rolled. He played another infamous Batman villain, Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin. Now, he has his own spin-off TV show in the making.


3. Rebecca Romijin in the X-Men series (2000-2006)

Wolverine vs Mistique in X Men

Image Source: xmenmovies.wikia.com

There is no other actor or actress who has had to endure as much as Rebecca Romijin did every time she was on the set of X-Men movies. According to her, it was a 9-hour process, which sometimes took a little more if something had to be redone.

To become the character of Mystique, Romijin applied a few prosthetics, including the back, legs, arms, etc. After that, her facial makeup was applied, which took hours alone. As a result, people still don’t know it’s her behind the big blue baddy.


2. Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor (1996)

The Nutty Professor 1996

Eddie Murphy played one of the most iconic characters in The Nutty Professor. While it was an original Jerry Lewis remake, the film saw Eddie play seven different characters of the Klump family.

While it took around 3 hours to put on the fat suit, it would take additional hours to apply the facial makeup. As a result, we see one of the most hilarious film characters ever grace the screen. So much so that it earned the film the best Oscar for makeup in 1997.


1. Brendan Fraser in The Whale (2022)

The Whale 2022

Brendan Fraser made an emphatic comeback to the big screen after a long hiatus. Once the handsome hunk of films like The Mummy and Crash, Fraser returned to the big screen in the form of an obese and estranged father.

According to the film producers, it took around 6 hours to get Fraser in the fat suit and add other makeup procedures. You can guess the success of this film by the fact that it earned both Fraser and the makeup artist an Oscar for their respective roles.


Honorable Mentions

  • Idris Elba in Star Trek Beyond
  • Ralph Fiennes in Harry Potter
  • Ron Perlman in Hellboy

What are your favorite movie makeup transformations? Share with us your thoughts in the comments!

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