FROM SLEEK TO GEEK: Hollywood stars who changed in a big way for roles
In The Hummingbird Project, the tense tech thriller from Oscar-nominated director Kim Nguyen, Hollywood hunk Alexander Skarsgård is totally unrecognisable as a tech genius attempting to connect money markets using an audacious fibre optic tunnel.
Skarsgård, who found fame as the sexy black clad vampire in True Blood, couldn’t look more different here, as a bald, bespectacled geek: he looks more like slaphead Dean Gaffney than a big screen sex symbol. It’s not the first time an attractive star has drastically changed their appearance for a role – here are eight of the most extraordinary A-lister transformations that’ll make you do a double take.
Robert De Niro in Raging Bull (1980)
For his Oscar-winning performance as boxer Jake La Motta, in Martin Scosese’s classic film, De Niro had to show the character go from being a fighter in his physical prime, to a washed up and overweight nightclub performer, after his boxing career had finished. De Niro gained sixty pounds for these scenes – that’s a lotta pasta!
Nicole Kidman in The Hours (2002)
Nicole Kidman donned a prosthetic nose for her part as celebrated English writer Virginia Woolf, in Stephen Daldry’s acclaimed film The Hours. To achieve the distinctive look of the legendary author, Kidman took to wearing the prosthetic even when she wasn’t filming – which she found came in handy to stop her being hounded by paparazzi, who didn’t recognise the star. She was awarded the Best Actress Oscar for her role. Some say she won by a nose.
Charlize Theron in Monster (2003)
Former model Charlize Theron, who had been cast as a blonde beauty in films like The Devil’s Advocate and Celebrity, shocked audiences in 2003 with her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos. With greasy hair and bad teeth, this stunning performance is a world away from her appearance in glossy adverts for expensive perfume – and it is was so convincing and powerful it won her the Best Actress Oscar.
Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder (2008)
This riotous comedy, about actors playing soldiers being plunged into a real life war, has many memorable scenes – but are any more so than those featuring Tom Cruise as the obnoxious, foul-mouthed producer Les Grossman? He’s bald and bespectacled, like Skarsgård in The Hummingbird Project, but prone to foul-mouthed outbursts and even a bit of dancing. Playaaaaa!
Hugh Grant in Cloud Atlas (2012)
Tom Hanks played six roles in the Warchowski’s mind-bending sci-fi epic, the most unexpected of which was as the cannibal Kona Chief. Who could possibly have predicted that the foppish, flustered star of Four Weddings and a Funeral would appear sporting face tattoos and tribal armour adorned with skulls and severed fingers?
Tilda Swinton in Suspiria (2018)
Who is this learned looking, pipe smoking elderly gent? It’s none other than Tilda Swinton, in last year’s Suspiria remake, playing Dr Klemperer in one of her three roles in the film. The part was credited to fictional actor Lutz Ebersdorf to throw film-goers off the scent. This isn’t Swinton’s first time playing a man. In the 1992 film Orlando she played the title character of a nobleman who remains forever young.
Christian Bale in Vice (2018)
Bale is no stranger to undergoing a big physical change for his work. For the 2004 film The Machinist, he was so dedicated to his part as a sleep deprived industrial worker, that he set a record for the amount of weight lost for an actor for a role. Last year he was Oscar-nominated for his jaw-dropping performance as Dick Cheney in Vice – in this case he piled on the pounds, this time with the help of prosthetics, to play controversial Vice President, and looks the spitting image of the man.
John Travolta in The Fanatic (2019)
If you weren’t paying attention during the opening credits, you could be forgiven for not realising that Moose, the celebrity stalker in this new thriller, is played by superstar John Travolta. After all, he’s better known for playing cool characters like Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever or Vincent Vega Pulp Fiction. Travolta, sporting a bizarre bowl haircut/mullet combo, round glasses and a Hawaiian shirt, really gets into his role here – no doubt channelling some of his own experiences with obsessive autograph and selfie hunters.
THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT is released on digital 4 October 2019.
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