Top 10 Movie Makeup Transformations

June 30 03:44 2014

When it comes to movies, audiences like to be amazed. Apart from theatrics and set design, make-up is a major key factor that will cause a film, or a specific celebrity performance, to stand out.

We may be in an era of computer graphics, but celebrities are still put on heavy or uncomfortable costumes which may have taken them hours of exhausting work, only to have to perform for more hours in front of the camera. However, the hard work pays off. They become somewhat unrecognizable, and deliver a memorable performance.

From Charlize Theron in Monster to Jim Carey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, putting on make-up and costumes are more difficult then they appear. Some celebrities speak about not being able to eat in fear of having to start the process over again, spending grueling hours getting ready, suffering from heat exhaustion and an intense itch.

Celebrities go through a lot to make sure they entertain audiences and bring their characters to life. Here are the top 10 celebrity movie transformations.

image courtesy of Jenifer Graylock/

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10. John Travolta – Hairspray

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For the role of Edna Turnblad, Travolta transformed into a woman. Travolta explained the difficulties of his transformation:

“There’s an added level of weight to carry around, but more than that it was very hot inside,” revealed Travolta. “Martin Lawrence (Big Momma’s House) had warned me that it was not going to be easy, and others had warned me it was not going to be easy. So I was sweating a lot. A lot of air was needed. High heels were difficult to dance in but I committed to it.”

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9. Michael Chiklis – Fantastic Four

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Chiklis played The Thing in the Fantastic Four and its sequel, and spent months covered in a latex rock design costume. His transformation was especially grueling and time consuming.

“The first time the face was applied in the first test for the original, it took 5, 5 and a half hours to apply,” Chiklis said. “And we got it down to two hours 15 minutes and now we get it on in roughly one hour 15 minutes. Less time spent with people poking you in the eye is a good thing!”

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8. Ralph Fiennes – Harry Potter

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Playing Lord Voldemort was not an easy task. Fiennes underwent two hours in makeup for the role.

“Every day I was shooting, I had to spend an extra two and a half hours just to get into make-up,” Fiennes told the New York Post. “It was difficult because on top of everything else I couldn’t get any break from it. Besides the actual prosthesis, my character also had a set of fake false teeth. When we broke for lunch, I couldn’t eat. I had to take them out each time I wanted anything.”

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7. Rebecca Romijn and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique

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Rebecca Romijn, who played Mystique in X-Men, X2 and X3: The Last Stand, went through 8 to 9 hours of makeup. She had 100 individual prosthetics covering 60 percent of her body, plus blue bodypaint on the rest and uncomfortable contact lenses.

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Jennifer Lawrence played Mystique in X-Men First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past. For her, it took six or seven hours and six women to paint and airbrush the blue makeup.

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6. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

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According to BuzzFeed, Ledger himself designed the Joker makeup using cosmetics he bought at a drugstore, which was then replicated using high tech, stamped silicone by makeup artists. Ledger’s role was phenomenal, earning him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as well as the Golden Globe.

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5. Charlize Theron – Monster

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Theron took on the role of Aileen Wuornos in Monster. According to CNN, Theron wore a little make-up to freckle her clear complexion, a set of crooked teeth and a diet of potato chips to bulk up. Theron won an Academy Award for her role.

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4. Jim Carrey – How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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Jim Carrey’s transformation into the Grinch, resulted in him being covered from head to toe in fur and rubber.

“It was impossible to scratch your nose. It was a real lesson in Zen,” Carrey said. “Every once in a while it would be really funny, they’d know I was having problem, because I would punch myself in the leg.”

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3. Tom Cruise – Tropic Thunder

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Cruise’s transformation into Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder was kept under wraps, and the costume was mostly his idea. Cruise had makeup effects applied to his face and head, as well as the extra hair on his chest and arms. He also decided to wear over sized prosthetic hands, a bald headpiece and a fat suit.

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2. Robert Downey Jr. – Tropic Thunder

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Downey Jr. played an Australian man playing an African American in Tropic Thunder. He required between one and a half to two hours of make-up application. He earned an Academy Award nomination for his role.

“One makeup artist would start on one side of my face and a second makeup artist would start on the other side, and then they’d meet in the middle,” Downey Jr. said.

**Video contains explicit Language**

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1. Johnny Depp

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Johnny Depp should be known as the King of Transformations. Every time he is on screen, he becomes a completely different character, and devotes all of his attention into bringing that character to life. His most notable transformations include his roles in Edward Scissorhands, in which he passed out from heat exhaustion after spending over three hours in makeup, Sleepy Hollow, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, dark Shadows and The Lone Ranger.

Depp was honored at the 11th annual Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Awards for all of his amazing transformations.


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