19 Incredible Movie Transformations That Left These Hollywood Stars Unrecognisable

Matt Bagwell
·Head of Entertainment, HuffPost UK
·5-min read

Colin Farrell left film fans open-mouthed when they got their first glimpse of the Irish actor in the upcoming Batman reboot, with a transformation that left him unrecognisable

But Colin 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. (Photo: PA)
Colin Farrell during the filming of The Batman taking place in Liverpool. (Photo: PA)
Colin Farrell  (Photo: KGC-03/STAR MAX/IPx)
Colin Farrell (Photo: KGC-03/STAR MAX/IPx)

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.

(Photo: Remstar Films)
(Photo: Remstar Films)
Charlize her Best Actress statue for her role in Monster. (Photo: Getty Editorial)
Charlize her Best Actress statue for her role in Monster. (Photo: Getty Editorial)

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.

(Photo: Instagram)
(Photo: Instagram)
Jared Leto holding his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. (Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Jared Leto holding his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. (Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

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. (Photo: )
Jared Leto as Mark Chapman. (Photo: )

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.

(Photo: )
(Photo: )
Matthew McConaughey (Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Matthew McConaughey (Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

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.

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

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.

(Photo: YouTube)
(Photo: YouTube)
50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) (Photo: SIPA USA/PA Images)
50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) (Photo: SIPA USA/PA Images)

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).

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

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

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.

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

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.”

(Photo: Summit Entertainment)
(Photo: Summit Entertainment)
Matthew Fox (Photo: PA)
Matthew Fox (Photo: PA)

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.

(Photo: )
(Photo: )
Nicole Kidman  (Photo: Yahoo Celebrity UK)
Nicole Kidman (Photo: Yahoo Celebrity UK)

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.

(Photo: Paramount)
(Photo: Paramount)
Tom Cruise (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Tom Cruise (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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.

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

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.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Wanda Pictures)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Wanda Pictures)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Photo: Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)

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.

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

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.

Rooney Mara's turn as Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's  (Photo: Sony Pictures)
Rooney Mara's turn as Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's (Photo: Sony Pictures)
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. (Photo: 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. (Photo: Getty Editorial)

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.

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

READ MORE:

Simon Pegg Admits Public Response To His Shocking Body Transformation Was 'So Weird'

Colin Farrell's Transformation In The Batman Is Still Something We Can't Quite Get Our Heads Around

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.