ByTrevor Norkey, writer at
Writer, filmmaker, actor and film enthusiast.
Trevor Norkey

Hollywood is home to many talented people, including actors, directors and stylists. When the most talented of these people team up to make a movie, the effects are sometimes baffling. Many of these stylists, whether they are for wardrobe, make-up or hair, have the task of prepping the actors for filming. Sometimes the job is easy if the actors have to look normal, but other times the task is gruelingly complicated when the actor needs to look entirely different.

There are many of these films where an actor becomes practically unrecognizable because of how well their stylists did their jobs. It even reaches the point where the audience cannot tell who the actor is unless they know who they are before hand. Here are 10 well known actors who became practically unrecognizable for some of their biggest roles without the use of CGI.

1. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean

Johnny Depp has taken a number of strange-looking roles in his life, but there is none more unrecognizable than Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Modeled after Rolling Stones member Keith Richards, the stylists had a clear idea of what Johnny Depp needed to become for this role, and they made it happen. In fact, if Johnny Depp wasn't advertised so much when the first movie came out, it would have been very unlikely that most people would have even been able to recognize him during the film. There's no question about why this movie was nominated for the Oscar for Best Make-Up.

2. Liam Neeson as Qui Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Liam Neeson is a very recognizable actor, best known for his clean-cut face and his short, trimmed hair. He is a very respectable actor who has earned quite a name for himself. But his role in Star Wars made him look quite different. He changed from being cleanly shaven with well trimmed hair to having a full beard and a mullet. The hair stylists clearly knew what they were doing when they transformed Liam Neeson into the legendary Jedi. It is still crazy to me to watch The Phantom Menace and try to comprehend that he is Liam Neeson. I can hear his voice, but his look is completely altered.

3. Paul Bettany as Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Paul Bettany is a well known British actor who voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man and Avengers series, but in Avengers: Age of Ultron he finally decided to show his face in the popular series. However, though it was his face that was shown, it looked nothing like him. Bettany's hair dressers, costume designers and make-up artists really went to town when turning the actor into Vision from the comics. Contrary to popular belief, very little CGI was put into Bettany's look as Vision; it was all just one big costume with a ton of make-up.

4. Mike Myers as Austin Powers and Dr. Evil in Austin Powers

Mike Myers became one of those talented actors who managed to play two big roles in the same movie. In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Myers played both the titular Austin Powers and the antagonist Dr. Evil, neither of which look very much like Myers. Whether it was the costume and teeth for Austin Powers, or the sudden lack of hair, the dyed eyebrows and the weird crease across his head for Dr. Evil, Mike Myers underwent a lot of changes for this movie, thanks to the help of his dressers and stylists.

5. Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes in Kick-Ass 2

When Jim Carrey appeared in Kick-Ass 2, he did not ask for much publicity in marketing the film since he was not a big fan of the movie's theme. This caused many people to not realize he was in the movie, even though he appeared consistently. The changes his stylists did to him may have been subtle, but it made this actor look rather different. A lot of make-up was added, and his hair was completely changed, to turn this legendary comedy actor into someone else entirely (while still playing a human character, unlike in The Grinch and The Mask). I don't even know how they changed him so much, but his stylists found a way. The costume probably helped a little too.

6. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables

Most people knew going into the movie that Hugh Jackman would be in Les Misérables, but during the opening scene, it was next to impossible to realize that the tattered prisoner was him. The beard, the make-up, the hair and the entire costume turned Hugh Jackman from a Hollywood actor into a poor, beaten man who was just released from prison, where he spent most of his life. It was truly phenomenal. It was not much of a surprise when the movie won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hair-styling.

7. Danny DeVito as Penguin in Batman Returns

Danny DeVito was perhaps the most advertised part about this classic Batman sequel, yet he was still practically unrecognizable during the movie. He was completely transformed into the revolting interpretation of the Penguin, and it was somehow beautiful. Not to mention what they did to his nose and teeth. Tim Burton proved how great of a visionary he is, and DeVito's stylists proved themselves worthy of their Oscar nomination.

8. Eddie Murphy as Norbit, Rasputia and Mr. Wong in Norbit

Eddie Murphy also took the step into trying a film where he plays multiple big roles. During 2007's Norbit, he played the protagonist Norbit, his enormous, antagonistic wife Rasputia, and the owner of his childhood orphanage Mr. Wong. His stylists were very talented, managing to turn Eddie Murphy into not one, not two but three completely different characters who look almost nothing like each other, or himself for that matter. That there is talent and was certainly the best part of the entire film, especially considering that Make-up was the only Oscar that Norbit was actually nominated for.

9. Gary Oldman as Sirius Black in Harry Potter

This is still one that I can't get my mind around to this day. I love Gary Oldman, but when I watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, I just don't see him! Not only were his stylists fantastic with his hair and make-up, but Oldman used his incredible acting abilities to add the finishing touches. There was a whole lot of talent put into Sirius Black, making these films just a treasure to watch.

10. Robert Downey Jr. as Kirk in Tropic Thunder

2008 was a big year for Robert Downey Jr. Not only did he become Iron Man, but he actually played a character from a different race from his own during Tropic Thunder. It was not just his make-up that changed him, though, but his acting. He completely became the character in the film, changing his voice, his appearance and his attitude. Though the make-up crew was not nominated for an Oscar for this film, Robert Downey Jr. was for the phenomenal way he adapted to his make-up changes on screen.

These are only a few actors who were completely altered for their roles. In fact, many of these actors were completely altered in different roles too. The incredible combination of the stylists and the acting abilities of the actors transformed these famous people into completely, unrecognizable characters in some amazing ways.

What other actors were completely transformed by their stylists for a role? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!


Which actor do you think was changed the most?


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