12 Unbelievable A-List Actor Transformations For Movie Roles

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The life of a Hollywood movie star is easy, right? All the glitz, glamour, gazillions of dollars – what could be so difficult. Well not so fast there armchair actors. Many of our favorite actors and actresses not just spend years in acting school, not just waited tables, or lived in their cars before they made it big – but many have to go through some insane body transformations to look the part. Whether it’s losing a ton of weight, gaining a ton, becoming super buff, or gaunt and sickly – many A-listers often land themselves in the hospital due to malnourishment or heart problems, as they only have a few months to diet, workout, and fully transform in character. In fact, just checkout the following Hollywood leading ladies and men to see how they went from stunning, to unrecognizable – along with exactly how they were able to do it. It’s a feat so amazing, that once you see it, you’ll see how they’re more than deserving of every fan, and every dollar they get.
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Charlize Theron

Former J’Adore Dior model turned Hollywood leading lady, Charlize Theron had to go through a change so dramatic for the film Monster, she won an academy award for it. Yes, Charlize was picked to play the role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, which required her to put on a ton of weight, wear contacts, wear dentures, and bleach and partially shave off her eyebrows. And if you’re thinking “So what?” Then you clearly don’t know what it’s like to have the face of a model, then go and ruin it for two year’s time. It’s not easy to walk around ugly when all you’re ever known is, is beautiful.
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Christian Bale

Known for his role as Batman, along with his unbelievable physique with rock-hard abs, Christian Bale almost killed himself (literally), preparing for the 2004 movie, The Machinist. He was required to lose over 60 pounds in just a few weeks, which actually caused organ failure – thus sending him to the hospital. Thankfully, Bale pulled through and was able to complete the film. But imagine having to become sickeningly anorexic, just to entertain someone who paid $12 for a ticket.
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Robert Downey Jr.

For the film Tropic Thunder, a film about a film where the main character (played by Robert Downey Jr.) changes his skin color to become an African-American sergeant, Downey had to go through quite a physical transformation. He had to die his hair black, and had product added to it so it would curl like an afro. As well, he had to have his nostril widened ever so slightly to give him that more afro-American look. It’s a wild transformation for a very odd film, written and directed by Ben Stiller – who many today, find it to kinda be a bit racist.
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Cameron Diaz

If you saw the woman on the left walking down the street, would you recognize that it’s Award-winning beauty, Cameron Diaz? Yup, that’s her in her role as “plain Jane” in the movie Being John Malkovich. A homely character, that make-up artists Gucci Westman said he had a hard time turning her into, because Cameron has just too much natural beauty to make ugly.
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50 Cent

Talk about “get rich or die trying”, 50 Cent here truly lives by his motto. For the film All Things Fall Apart, which he actually wrote and acted in, 50 had to lose 50 pounds (54 to be exact), to turn himself into a football player dying of cancer. 50 claimed the transformation made him ill – almost as ill as the critic’s comments about the film, which did very poorly at the box office.
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Tom Cruise

Starring along side Robert Downey Jr., in Tropic Thunder, an unrecognizable Tom Cruise plays the role of a sleazy, balding, overweight Hollywood exec. Quite a departure from all of Cruise’s other roles, it’s actually refreshing to see him in one where he doesn’t take himself too seriously – or look it either.
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John Travolta

For all the role transformations on this list, it’s always within the same gender. But not for this one in the movie Hairspray starring John Travolta. In this movie John becomes a Jane, well, an Edna Turnblad actually – who’s a fat, colorfully dressed drag queen. So, in a way, he’s still a man. But damn, John does make quite the lady. And that’s acting, folks!
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Matt Damon

For the film The Informant, the world’s hottest ex-assassin, Matt Damon had to add about 40lbs to his Jason Bourne body. His role as Mark Whitacre, a whistle blowing employee on his company’s price-fixing tactics, Matt needed to look like your run-of-the-mill employee, as well as comical (as this film was a comedy / thriller). Now tell me, if you were Mr, Damon, how much would they have to pay you to go ahead and transform your body into that?!
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Sean Penn

In the film Carlito’s Way, Sean Penn plays a hairline receding, sleaze-bag looking lawyer named David Kleinfeld. Quite a different look from the man who was once married to former queen of pop, Madonna.
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Eddie Murphy

So we’ve already seen a white man play a black man in Robert Downey Jr’s transformation, but the race transformation to top them all, is Eddie Murphy’s in the film Coming To America. In the film Eddie plays a Prince looking for his Princess in Queens New York. But he also plays the role of Saul, an old white Jewish man who does nothing but hang out in a barbershop all day, engaging in barbershop talk. It’s a transformation so extreme, Rick Baker (the film’s makeup artist) won an Oscar for it.
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Tom Hanks

Not everyone on the list won an Oscar for their transformation. In fact, few did. But not in the case of Tom Hanks here for his role as a gay AIDS patient in the 1993 film, Philadelphia. Not only did Tom shed 35lbs and shave his head to depict a frail, young man dying from this deadly disease – but when you combine Tom’s A-list acting – it’s no wonder he was awarded the Oscar for his amazing transformation.
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Mariah Carey

Now here’s a transformation many couldn’t believe until they saw the credits role. In 2009, pop diva Mariah Carey played the role of Ms. Weiss in the film Precious. It was a transformation that made her do a complete 180, as her character was an awfully drab social worker, who was highly empathetic and void of any vanity. The complete opposite of what and who Mariah is in real life.
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