They don't call it movie magic for nothing! In October 2020, photos emerged of Colin Farrell covered in prosthetics — which transformed the handsome Irish actor into the villainous Oswald Cobblepot, better known as the Penguin — while filming 2022's "The Batman" alongside Robert Pattinson as the titular superhero and Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman in Liverpool, England. Keep reading for more of Hollywood's biggest movie transformations…
Nope, that's not former TV host Megyn Kelly on the left — it's Charlize Theron, who underwent a remarkable transformation to play the former Fox News and NBC journalist in 2019's "Bombshell," which hit theaters in 2019. Nicole Kidman (center) played another real person, former Miss America-turned-TV commentator Gretchen Carlson, in the movie, which chronicles female Fox News staffers' harassment allegations against late network founder Roger Ailes. (Margot Robbie, right, played a fictional character.)
Matthew McConaughey dropped a whopping 47 pounds from his muscular physique to play AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in 2013's "Dallas Buyers Club." But it was all worth it for the eight-and-a-half-pound Oscar he scored for the performance.
Matthew McConaughey delivered another major movie transformation, this time sporting long blonde locks and scraggly facial hair to star as the character Moondog alongside Snoop Dogg in 2019's "The Beach Bum."
Adopting a British accent wasn't the only change Renee Zellweger had to make to play Bridget Jones. The svelte actress gained 25 pounds for "Bridget Jones's Diary" in 2001, lost it all for her role in 2002's "Chicago, and then gained it all back for 2004's "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason." Talk about commitment!
Chris Pratt went from chubby class clown to super-hot, super-fit superhero in 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy." The former "Parks and Recreation" star put in three to four hours of "consistent, a—kicking hard work" to drop 60 pounds and bulk up for his role as Star-Lord. Chris, who was around 300 pounds when he landed the role, also implemented a 4,000-calories-a-day diet and worked with personal trainer Duffy Gaver to get ripped.
Jared Leto made a complete transformation to play Rayon, an HIV-positive trans woman, in 2013's "Dallas Buyers Club." The acclaimed actor dropped to 114 pounds and also sported a full face of makeup, wigs and women's clothing. "I stopped eating, it wasn't an easy thing to do. It was 30 or 40 pounds. After a while I stopped counting," he told The Wrap of his weight loss. "It changes the way you walk, the way you sit, the way you think." Jared ultimately won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his efforts.
Years before Jared Leto dropped weight for "Dallas Buyers Club," he was putting on pounds for "Chapter 27." The acclaimed actor added a whopping 67 pounds to his slender frame to play John Lennon's assassin, Mark David Chapman, in the 2006 film. Jared later reflected that adding the extra weight might not have been the best decision. He was diagnosed with gout and had to take Lipitor, a high-cholesterol medicine. "I'm not sure it was the wisest choice," he told the Los Angeles Times. "A friend of mine was recently going to gain weight for a film, and I did my best to talk him out of it. Just because you can lose the weight doesn't mean the impact it had on you isn't there anymore. The script didn't say, 'Page 1: You gain 67 pounds, and you're miserable for two months.' But as I started to research, I realized that the physical representation of this guy had so much to do with who he was."
How low can Christian Bale go? In a word: very. For 2004's "The Machinist," he literally starved himself to drop 62 pounds, whittling down to a jaw-dropping 120 pounds. Christian actually wanted to get down to 99 pounds, but filmmakers were concerned about his health and didn't let him.
Natalie Portman wasn't concerned about going bald for 2005's "V for Vendetta." What she was nervous about was that it had to be done on camera in a single take. "It was a one-shot deal, and that was the most stressful thing about the experience," she told USA Today.
Robert De Niro was the original movie transformation master. Back in 1980, Bob got into tip-top fighting shape to play middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta during the early years of his career in "Raging Bull." He then traveled to Italy and reportedly ate all the pasta he could to play Jake during his later years when he was overweight and middle-aged. The actor gained so much weight — 60 pounds, to be exact — that director Martin Scorsese was reportedly concerned about his health during filming.
Charlize Theron blew us away with her incredible makeunder in 2003's "Monster." The stunningly beautiful actress looked completely unrecognizable as serial killer and former prostitute Aileen Wuornos. She gained more than 40 pounds to play the murderer and wore prosthetic teeth and dull makeup to shroud her clear complexion. "Monster" director Patty Jenkins told CNN that making Charlize "fat and ugly" was never the goal. Instead, it was about unveiling Aileen's lifestyle. "Yeah, just shocking because it was little details. It was, 'Oh, she was homeless. She lived on the street in bad weather. OK, well that means sun damage.' Well, then we addressed the sun damage," Patty said. "She was insecure about her hair. OK, well, then we address the hair. It was little little layers and then suddenly, she's Aileen." Charlize won an Academy Award for best actress for her performance.
To prepare to play transgender man Brandon Teena in 1999's "Boys Don't Cry," Hilary Swank cut her hair short and reduced her body fat to just 7%. She also lived like a man, wrapping her chest in tension bandages and putting socks down the front of her pants. She was so convincing that her neighbors thought she was her brother.
James Franco shocked fans when he debuted a new shaved 'do in 2014. His Mr. Clean-inspired look, which he showed off at the Venice Film Festival, wasn't a voluntary fashion statement, however. He sported a chrome dome for his role as Vikar in "Zeroville," a film that wasn't released until 2019.
Christian Bale, aka the king of movie transformations, gained an impressive 40 pounds to play Vice President Dick Cheney in 2018's "Vice." The British star wore prosthetics and said he ate "a lot of pies" to transform himself into the former VP in this dark comedy biopic. His performance was so on-point, he won a best actor Golden Globe in 2019.
Rooney Mara did a complete 180 to play Lisbeth Salander, a rebellious and tormented computer hacker, in 2011's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." For the role, Rooney bleached her eyebrows and wore piercings, dramatic dark makeup and severe hairstyles to give her the goth look of the celebrated book-turned-movie character. She also worked out and dieted to showcase Lisbeth's thin frame.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life (and look) for Hugh Jackman. In early 2015, the actor went bald to play Blackbeard for the box-office flop "Pan." He made up for the lack of hair up top with a funny mustache and beard.
We thought getting shot nine times and living to tell the tale was hardcore, but 50 Cent upped the ante while prepping to play a cancer-stricken football player in 2011's "All Falls Apart." The rapper shed 54 pounds in nine weeks by liquid dieting and running on a treadmill for three hours a day.
Tom Hanks had to both gain and lose weight to play Chuck Noland, a stranded FedEx employee, in 2000's "Cast Away." First, Tom gained 50 pounds to play the middle-aged man before his plane crashes on a remote island. Then Tom lost 55 pounds, through intense workouts and exercise, to play Chuck after he's been stranded on the island for years. He also grew out his hair and beard for weeks. "The idea of looking at four months of constant vigilance as far as what I ate, as well as two hours a day in the gym doing nothing but a monotonous kind of workout, was formidable," Tom has said about his transformation. "You have to power yourself through it almost by some sort of meditation trickery. It's not glamorous."
Glenn Close showed off a drastic transformation in 2011's "Albert Nobbs." In the film, she stars as Albert, a biologically female butler who has been living as a man for the past 30 years. Glenn starred in the original stage production in the 1980s and spent 15 years attempting to bring the play to the big screen. Her 100 percent commitment to the role is shown through her minimal makeup, slicked-back, short hair and 19th century men's clothing.
Anne Hathaway is naturally thin, but to play Fantine in 2012's "Les Miserables," she took it to the extreme. She dropped 25 pounds through a strict cleanse and then ate just two thin squares of dried oatmeal paste a day. "The idea was to look near death," she later told Vogue. "Looking back on the whole experience … it was definitely a little nuts." In a much less drastic move, she cut her long locks, like her character. It all paid off in the end: Anne took home the Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2013.
Cate Blanchett mastered her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in 1998's "Elizabeth" and its 2007 sequel, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age." The actress sported the monarch's signature red hair in elaborate wigs and updos and the extravagant royal costumes, jewelry and makeup of the 16th century. Cate also perfected Elizabeth's mannerisms and persona. Her flawless depiction led to her first Oscar and SAG Award nominations and BAFTA and Golden Globe wins.