Among the many elements that make a great film, aesthetics play a key role. Gone are the days when celebrities chose glam roles all the time. Certain movies demand actors to take on characters that come with a distinct look–it could be that of an extremely terrifying monster or a look alike of an unusual personality. HMU in films have gone beyond creating wrinkles and adding grey hair to make an actor look aged. We’re living in the age of prosthetics, which aid in creating convincing characters that actually make an impact on you as a viewer. Without a doubt, the cosmetics team deserve all the appreication for putting in so much work for creating a particular look, but due credit also goes to the celebrities for sitting patiently through those long hours of makeup and then pulling of the role effortlessly. Ahead, we list 10 jaw-dropping and unrecognisable celebrity transformations that actors have undergone for their respective roles in films and shows.
Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro
A film based on the life of Leonard Bernstein, Maestro stars Bradley Cooper as its lead. The film is set to release in 2023 but we’ve already been blessed with its first looks that showcases Cooper’s unrecognizable transformation as the music composer and conductor–an extremely impressive task accomplished by makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji. The different looks chronicle various stages of Bernstein’s life at different ages to give us an insight into what the character will eventually look like when the film releases.
Jamie Campbell Bower as Vecna in Stranger Things
You’ve probably seen the viral video of how the Stranger Things’ costuming and makeup team brought Jamie’s Vecna to life. And boy was it an arduous task. The entire process of creating the look with the prosthetics took eight hours and an additional two hours to remove it all after filming. Once the makeup and latex were in place, CGI was applied to enhance it. So the final look is the product of both practical and digital effects.
Lily James as Pamela Anderson in Pam & Tommy
The show’s makeup department head David Williams, hair department head Barry Lee Moe and special makeup effects designer Jason Collins are responsible for transforming Lily into Pam. The celebrity underwent hours of hair and makeup to look close to Pamela Anderson, which included the application of prosthetics on her eyebrows, forehead and breasts. But it certainly paid off and Lily actually looked like the Baywatch star. In an attempt to match the facial structure and features of Pam, the makeup team used a forehead appliance to widen the distance between her eyebrows and her hairline. Lace eyebrows that closely matched Anderson’s and dentures to match Pam’s perfect smile were used. The team also added gel-filled silicone breast appliances to make her body look like Pam’s. A new breast prosthetic was required everyday, making the team go through 45-50 breast prosthetics.
Jessica Chastain as Tamy Faye Bakker in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye
Everyone was captivated by Jessica’s near perfect transformation as Tamy Faye Bakker. The head of makeup Linda Dowds, hair department head Stephanie Ingram and special makeup effects artist Justin Raleigh referred to real-world archives of Tammy to create the look. The whole process involved three stages of prosthetics, all made from silicone and took a total of four hours to complete. Their efforts didn’t go in vain as it was not only the makeup team who won the 2022 Oscar for Makeup and Hairstyling but also Jesscia who took home the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Sebastian Stan as Edward in A Beautiful Man
From playing a Marvel superhero, a cannibal seducer to the rockstar Tommy Lee, Sebastian likes to take risks and experiment with his roles. For his next project A Different Man, the actor takes it up a notch. He transforms into a haunting character with a deformed face whose name is Edward. If he hadn’t shared this look himself on Instagram, we wouldn’t have even realised it was him. The story of the film revolves around a man who undergoes facial reconstructive surgery.
Amitabh Bachchan as Auro in Paa
Amitabh Bachchan played the role of Auro, a child who suffers from the genetic disroder progeria. Christien Tinsley and Dominie Till, known for their work on The Passion of the Christ and Lord of the Rings respectively, were brought on board to create Bachchan’s look. They pulled off the look with great difficulty but it paid off when Paa won the National Film Award for its makeup skills back in 2009.
Rajkummar Rao as Mohak in Raabta
Not many are aware but Rajkummar Rao made a cameo as a 324-year-old man in the film Raabta. His look was created with the help of heavy prosthetics, which took the team 5-6 hours to complete everyday. The mere fact that he was willing to put so much time and effort for a guest appearance speaks volumes about his commitment towards truly sinking into the skin of the character he plays.
Shah Rukh Khan in Fan
SRK played a double role in the film, one as himself (the star Shah Rukh Khan) and the other as a young, obsessed fan who happens to look similar to the star in appearance. Along with VFX, American prosthetic makeup artist Greg Cannom (who also worked on Rishi Kapoor’s look in Kapoor & Sons) helped create Shah Rukh’s character for the film.
Tilda Swinton as Dr. Jozef Klemperer in Suspiria
From playing a wicked queen to David Bowie, Tilda is known for her many dynamic roles. But when she chose to play an 82-year-old psychoanalyst in Suspiria, fans were shocked and confused. Nobody knew Tilda was underneath layers of makeup. In fact, even the cast of the movie listed Lutz Ebersdorf as Dr. Jozef Klemperer. It was only later that Tilda admitted to playing that role for “the sheer sake of fun”. We couldn’t have imagined anyone else but her to pull it off.
Lara Dutta as Indira Gandhi in Bell Bottom
Althought Bell Bottom has Akshay Kumar as the lead, we can’t forget Lara Dutta’s sharp impeccable transformation as Indira Gandhi. The credit for the look goes to Vikram Gaikwad.