Actors Who Were Completely Unrecognizable In A Movie

It's really easy to identify an A-list actor. After all, we've seen them in dozens of films, on magazine covers, and all over the internet. Get a big crowd of people together, and we're definitely going to pick out Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. And honestly, that's what you want if you're an actor. Audiences come to the movies to see the stars. However, there are some thespians who would rather disappear into a role. Whether they're gaining weight, growing facial hair, or piling on the prosthetics, they want to totally vanish into the character and leave everybody wondering, "Hey, who's playing that part?" And if the physical transformation is crazy enough or if the makeup is done just right, an actor can change so completely that we won't even know it's them until the credits roll. From undercover comedians to insane method acting, these actors were completely unrecognizable in their movies.

Jim Carrey got incredibly dirty for The Bad Batch

Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, The Bad Batch is an absolutely insane movie. Set in the desert wastelands of a dystopian future, the film features Suki Waterhouse as a pistol-packing amputee, Jason Momoa as a bodybuilding cannibal, and Keanu Reeves as a mustachioed cult leader. But while these actors are playing outlandish roles, they're pretty easy to recognize. Jason Momoa will always look like Jason Momoa. But there's one actor who looks more like a hobo than a movie star, thanks to some grit, grime, and scraggly facial hair.

Jim Carrey plays a greasy wanderer known as the Hermit, and the only way you'd recognize him is by sticking around for the credits. His skin is the color of bronze and the texture of sundried leather. His eyes are often covered by makeshift glasses, his beard is absolutely filthy, and he's wearing fake teeth that are gnarled and misshapen. The man is covered in dirt and sweat, and his matted hair is hanging past his shoulders. Most importantly, Carrey doesn't say a single word in the entire film. Carrey's entire persona is based on madcap, over-the-top antics that involve a whole lot of Ace Ventura-style shouting. But here, the man is completely mute, and his silence is just as crucial as his looks to make this A-lister unrecognizable.

Danny DeVito got all gross for Batman Returns

Before Tom Hardy bulked up for Bane and Heath Ledger dolled up for the Joker, Danny DeVito was getting gross for the Penguin. The diminutive comedian plays the umbrella-toting bad guy in Batman Returns, giving the most disturbing performance of his career, amplified by a lot of messed-up makeup.

Thanks to effects genius Stan Winston, DeVito had a prosthetic that started above his eyebrows, ran down his nose, and ended above his lips, giving him that beak-like schnoz. He's got a nasty set of false teeth, dark circles around his eyes, and skin painted ghostly white. The top of his head was shaved, and he wore a greasy hairpiece to give him the appearance of someone who didn't spend a lot of time showering. (He lives in a sewer, after all.) In scenes that emphasized his hands, DeVito had to wear foam latex flippers. And then there's the mouthwash.

This stuff was made of red and green food coloring, and it oozes from between the Penguin's lips, giving him the look of a true monster. And of course, DeVito was wearing a lumpy fat suit, giving him the look of a blubbery bird. At first, it took DeVito four hours to get into all this makeup, but eventually, the crew whittled it down to just three. And once DeVito was ready, the dude never broke character. In fact, when he had to come back to rerecord lines, he put the makeup back on so he could recapture the feel of the Penguin. Daniel Day-Lewis ain't got nothing on DeVito.

Johnny Depp turned into a creepy gangster for Black Mass

Johnny Depp has always been a big fan of makeup, props, and funny hats. But his most amazing transformation comes in Black Mass, when he plays the notorious James "Whitey" Bulger — homicidal mobster, FBI informant, and head of the Winter Hill Gang. And rather than just trying to capture the man's essence, Depp decided to copy Bulger's look down to his icy blue eyes.

Those unnerving peepers were courtesy of hand-painted contacts. Depp's real eyebrows were completely covered up, and to capture Bulger's upsetting grin, Depp stained his teeth yellow. As for his face, makeup designer Joel Harlow told Boston magazine that "from the middle of [Depp's] face up is entirely prosthetic." But the most impressive part of Depp's get-up are the hairpieces. They were made out of real human hair, and somebody had the thankless job of putting each and every hair into the prosthetic, one strand at a time. It took 22 hours to make one piece, and Depp had to wear a new one every single day of filming.

Yeah, getting the gangster's look was intense. In fact, Depp and Harlow weren't happy with the makeup until just five days before shooting started. And once the actor took a seat in the makeup chair, it took three-and-a-half hours each day to get him prepped to play the infamous mobster. Hilariously, while a lot of critics and moviegoers were awed by Depp's new look, the real Whitey Bulger was not impressed with his performance.

Joel Edgerton became an orc for Bright

Let's get this out of the way right up front: Bright is not a good film. However, there are two magical things about this movie. First, the makeup is absolutely incredible. The folks at Amalgamated Dynamics did a fantastic job of creating a world filled with elves and orcs. Secondly, Joel Edgerton gives a solid performance as Nick Jakoby, the first orc officer in LAPD history. Of course, if anyone didn't recognize Edgerton at first, that's perfectly understandable, since he's disguised with some otherworldly prosthetics.

Every day when Edgerton came into work, the Australian actor spent about three hours suiting up to play the good-natured orc. Since it took 60 days to film Bright, that meant Edgerton spent over a week getting prepped with foam latex prosthetics. As for his orcish skin, the makeup crew based those motley colors on the appearance of hairless mammals, a la hairless dogs and (mostly hairless) hippos. Paint the hands blue, slap on some fangs, and voila, you've got yourself an orc. The process was so intensive that Will Smith almost never saw his co-star out of his mythological makeup. But what's truly impressive is that Edgerton conveys so much emotion as the kindhearted Jakoby, even though he's buried under all that latex.

Gary Oldman disappeared into English history for Churchill

Gary Oldman isn't afraid to make himself unrecognizable. He's played old-man Dracula, Hannibal Lecter's disfigured arch-nemesis, and a space merchant with the galaxy's worst combover. But Oldman's greatest camo moment came when he played Winston Churchill in the biopic Darkest Hour. However, Oldman never would've taken the role without the help of Kazuhiro Tsuji.

Tsuji made a name for himself working on films like Looper, Hellboy, and Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. And when Oldman was approached by director Joe Wright to star as Churchill, the actor said he'd only do it if Tsuji came out of retirement to perform a makeup miracle. After all, Oldman looks nothing like Churchill. Thankfully, Tsuji was up to the challenge. After six months of research and prep time, Tsuji would spend four hours each day transforming Oldman into the English hero.

Basically, Oldman's entire face — his nose, chin, neck, and cheeks — were enhanced with prosthetics. The man even had bits of plastic shoved behind his ears to make them look like Churchill's. Instead of gaining weight, Oldman opted to wear a bodysuit, and then there were the hairpieces, made of both Angora and baby hair. These things were so fine that Oldman had to wear a new piece every 10 days. Because the ordeal was so intensive, the actor never ate or slept on set, worried that he'd mess up the makeup. However, all that hard work paid off, as both Oldman and Tsuji walked away with Oscars.

Hugh Grant became a cannibal warlord for Cloud Atlas

When it comes to unrecognizable performances, it doesn't get any crazier than Cloud Atlas. This sci-fi flick is about souls reincarnated throughout time — the same essences in different bodies. That means we get to see Halle Berry as a white aristocrat, Hugo Weaving as a female nurse, and James D'Arcy as a Korean from the future.

Then there's Hugh Grant, who plays six different parts in the film. In one storyline, he's an elderly dude. In another, he's an evil Asian businessman. But in the storyline set in 24th-century Hawaii, he's a cannibal warlord, covered in blood and radiation burns. The man is tatted up, with inky snakes slithering up his arms and all over his face. He's also covered in eerie white body paint, giving him the look of a ghoul coming out of the jungle. On top of all that, he's sporting a bald cap with a fake mohawk, robbing him of all of his rom-com charm.

Of course, none of this would work if Grant couldn't sell the performance, but with the help of the Wachowskis off-camera, the usually dapper Brit captured the feel of "a leopard who is so hungry."

Karen Gillan went full cyborg for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The MCU has plenty of actors going incognito with the power of motion capture. But while the Marvel animators did an amazing job of turning Josh Brolin into Thanos, we've got to give credit to the MCU makeup crew and Karen Gillan for going old school. The red-headed actress has shown up multiple times in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nebula, the blue-skinned assassin with some major daddy issues. Over the course of the series, she's evolved from a single-minded murderer to a full-on Avenger, and just like her character, Gillan's makeup process has changed quite a bit too.

When she first arrived on the original Guardians of the Galaxy, she was equipped with a five-piece prosthetic that took a staggering five hours to complete. She had to wear 22-millimeter contact lenses, paint her hands blue, and worst of all, she had to shave her gorgeous red locks to get Nebula's smooth dome. But when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 rolled around, the makeup crew cut the process down by two and a half hours. Better still, they only had to shave the sides of Gillan's hair, leaving her with a red top. But regardless of how much time Gillan spent in the makeup chair, she's impossible to identify whenever she shows up, sword in hand and ax to grind.

Charlize Theron went from gorgeous to grotesque for Monster

Charlize Theron is a powerhouse of an actress, giving breathtaking performances in movies like Young Adult and Mad Max: Fury Road. She's also an incredibly beautiful woman and was named the Sexiest Woman Alive in 2007. In fact, she's so good looking that she's actually complained about it, saying it keeps her from getting roles she really wants.

But her appearance didn't stop her from playing murderer Aileen Wuornos in 2003's Monster. Of course, that's probably because Theron totally transformed herself from gorgeous supermodel to grotesque serial killer. To make herself look like Wuornos, Theron shaved her eyebrows, popped in a pair of fake teeth, and used makeup to dirty up her perfect skin. She also stopped working out and enjoyed "anything that was full of cream," like Krispy Kreme doughnuts. By the time she was done with her anti-diet, Theron had picked up 30 pounds.

Most importantly, Theron understood how Wuornos thought and felt by reading hundreds of letters written by the serial killer. Without getting into Wuornos' head, the transformation wouldn't have been complete, but armed with all those letters and 30 extra pounds, Theron gave one of the best performances of her career and earned herself an Oscar for Best Actress.

Emma Thompson got all witchy for Nanny McPhee

A year after sporting some wild hair for The Prisoner of Azkaban, Emma Thompson decided it was time for a full makeover. After all, she was starring as the titular character of Nanny McPhee, a magical nanny who has to take care of seven wild children. Sure, it might sound a little like Mary Poppins, but McPhee isn't exactly Julie Andrews. Instead, looks like an old-fashioned witch, complete with a bulbous nose, hairy warts, and a really gruesome tooth.

It's hard to imagine this is the same actress as the one from The Remains of the Day and In the Name of the Father, but spend two hours sitting in a makeup chair and some real magic will happen. Thompson was equipped with a wiry wig, fake warts, a fake unibrow, prosthetic ears and nose, and plastic bits to fill out her mouth before the disgusting dentures went in. She also wore a fat suit, and as you might imagine, wearing all that wasn't fun. Talking with She Knows, Thompson said it's really hard to breathe with that nose. "You have to be rather Zen when you're in that state," she explained. "You have to let it float over you. It's very uncomfortable." But hey, when you need the prosthetics but don't want them, that's when they must stay.

Tilda Swinton did a genderswap for Suspiria

Tilda Swinton is maybe the greatest chameleon working today. Need proof? Then check out Suspiria, Luca Guadagnino's remake of the 1977 horror classic. The film finds Swinton playing not one, not two, but three roles that are central to the plot, two of which require a lot of time in the old makeup chair.

The most disgusting character Swinton plays is Helena Markos, an elderly witch who looks more amphibian than human. To play this monstrous woman, Swinton had to wear a full-body costume that took up to six hours to apply. The result is something truly vile, but Swinton's most impressive makeup job comes she walks onto the screen as Dr. Jozef Klemperer.

It took four hours each day for Swinton to transform into a little old man, and evidently, it was a challenge for makeup designer Mark Coulier. Speaking with Birth Movies Death, Coulier explained, "Tilda's got a very feminine face, with high cheekbones and the longest, slender neck, and we had to work against that." So Swinton was given a neck prosthetic, and Coulier had to "fill out her jawline to try to make her look as masculine as possible." She even wore fake man bits.

Of course, for the longest time, everybody involved with the movie claimed Klemperer was played by a real-life doctor named Lutz Ebersdorf. Sure, the moment Klemperer opens "his" mouth, it's rather obviously Swinton, but still, couple her acting chops with all that makeup, and we've got ourselves an iconic horror performance.

Marion Cotillard vanished into her role for La Vie en Rose

Before capturing the attention of mainstream audiences with Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, Marion Cotillard was capturing Oscar gold with her performance in La Vie en Rose. The French actress won universal acclaim for playing legendary singer Edith Piaf (the woman who sang "Non, je ne regrette rien," which also features in Inception), but here's the interesting thing about Cotillard ... she doesn't look anything like Piaf.

But that's where Jan Archibald comes in. A prestigious makeup artist, Archibald won the Oscar for La Vie en Rose, and she spent a whole lot of time perfecting Cotillard's hair. According to Variety, Archibald shaved Cotillard's hairline back a full 2 inches to emulate Piaf's look, and every day, she had to touch up the actress's head to make sure no hair was growing back. And since Cotillard would portray Piaf at different points in the singer's life, Archibald had to design eight wigs for the aging character, one of which was modeled off an actual lock of Piaf's hair.

In addition to going under the scissors, Cotillard buzzed off her eyebrows, and when it came time to play the elderly, dying singer, Cotillard had to sit in the makeup chair for a mind-numbing five hours. However, after Cotillard picked up that Oscar, we're sure she regrets nothing.

Christian Bale totally transformed himself for Vice

Christian Bale's physical transformations are the stuff of Hollywood legend, and ever the glutton for bodily harm, Bale decided to wreck himself again by accepting the role of Dick Cheney in Adam McKay's dark comedy biopic Vice. In addition to studying footage of Cheney, Bale had to go bald, bleach his eyebrows, and wear multiple wigs. Plus, he spent four to eight hours a day getting made-over. Basically every part of his body was replaced or enhanced by a prosthetic, including his chin, nose, and cheeks. Bale was also really worried about his neck, so he spent $3,000 on a muscle-building machine to accumulate some mass, but ultimately, he wore a neck prosthetic as well.

Most infamously, Bale packed on some serious weight. The man put on about 40 pounds with the help of a whole lot of pie. However, at one point in the shoot, Bale actually lost the weight and wore a fat suit for a good chunk of the film. And then there's Cheney's movements and mannerisms. Speaking with Newsweek, McKay claimed he had a two-hour conversation with Bale just about the proper way for the actor to hold his jaw. While the film was divisive, Bale impressed almost everybody with his performance, and the makeup crew earned themselves an Oscar for turning the owner of Wayne Enterprises into the vice president of the United States.