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Happy Halloween 2013, ONTD! Presenting The 15 (Well... 5) Most Impressive Actor Transformations



As we move deeper into the awards campaign season, a glut of films with showy central performances are hitting our screens, “For Your Consideration” for Academy voters. Over the years it’s been the subject of many a comedy sketch that there are a few markers of an Academy-friendly role, and this week’s “Dallas Buyers Club” is pretty much lousy with them: it’s based on a true story, deals with AIDS and features not one, but two instances of actors undergoing rapid and dramatic physical transformation to play their parts.

Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both lost an extreme amount of weight to play Ron Woodruff and the transgender Rayon, respectively, both of whom have been diagnosed with HIV. Leto reportedly dropped 30 pounds, while McConaughey, shrank by a reported 40. McConaughey had apparently planned to stop the weight loss, which he achieved simply by not eating (no gruelling exercise regimen, because after all he wanted to look sick) at 145 pounds, but kept going until, at 135, people stopped asking if he was all right and started suggesting he seek help. “And I thought,” he told Vanity Fair, “‘There we go. That's the perfect spot.’” In fact, he had consulted Tom Hanks for advice on how to achieve the weight loss—Hanks, as you’ll remember, won an Oscar for “Philadelphia” for which he lost 25 pounds to play an AIDS sufferer.

But whether or not Leto or McConaughey find their efforts rewarded with a shot at Oscar, they certainly join the pantheon of actors who have undergone dramatic physical transformations for a role. Sometimes it involves vast, shocking and potentially health-damaging weight loss, other times vast, shocking and potentially health-damaging weight gain, and still other times it’s largely down to make up or prosthetics or a combination of the above. But a great number of well-known actors have shown up (some more than once) in a film and been almost unrecognizable from the people who wave at us from red carpets. After much inter-Playlist wrangling, here are 15 actors whose transformations, however physically grueling or not they may have been for the actor, have yielded among the most dramatic results we’ve seen.





CHRISTIAN BALE as TREVOR REZNIK
(THE MACHINIST)




Without a doubt Christian Bale is deserving of his spot here, if not for this film, then for bulking back up after it to play Batman (gaining 100 pounds in six months—mostly muscle mass—is crazy, and in fact he apparently overdid it and had to then drop 40 for Christopher Nolan’s film), prior to losing a great deal of that bulk again for Werner Herzog’s “Rescue Dawn.” However it was Brad Anderson’s “The Machinist” which yielded the most shocking results (indeed Bale is on record about how irritated he is that his skeletal frame dominated the discourse around the movie to the point of obliteration), with Bale losing 55-60 pounds by subsisting largely oncoffee and apples.”



CHARLIZE THERON as AILEEN WOURNOS
(MONSTER)




Weight gain was only a fraction of the total make-under that the gorgeous erstwhile model Charlize Theron had to undergo to portray serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins’ unremittingly grim “Monster.” Additionally, she had her skin layered with washed off tattoo ink to give it a weathered, chapped look; her eyebrows were partially shaven and bleached out; she wore dentures; and had her hair repeatedly thinned and fried. The comprehensive, jaw-dropping uglying up paid off though—Theron picked up stellar notices and an Academy Award, and even rotting dentures couldn’t stop her from being voted World’s Most Desirable Woman in 2003 by AskMen.



TOM CRUISE as LES GROSSMAN
(TROPIC THUNDER)




So we’re slightly breaking our own rule about excluding all-over prosthetics like fat suits here, but for sheer surprise, and for how different an actor can look (and is willing to make himself look), Tom Cruise’s Les Grossman deserves a shout out. Cruise is never one to be accused of having a great sense of humor about himself or his image, but here he gleefully sends it up making Grossman without a doubt the most physically revolting creation in his filmography—from the tips of his pudgy, hairy fingers to his receding hairline, via a brilliantly crude potty mouth. And while this is also a film that features Robert Downey Jr. in blackface, we’re still gonna say Cruise’s role edges it for us in terms of unexpectedness, which is high praise indeed. However, refreshing as it is to see Cruise send himself up a little, we can’t help but hope that the mooted Grossman movie never happens: in this small dose it’s very enjoyable, but we can have too much of a grotesque thing.



ROONEY MARA as LISBETH SALANDER
(THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO)




David Fincher’s adaptation of the Stieg Larsson international bestseller is undoubtedly her most high-profile role, so it’s a little hard to remember that Rooney Mara was once the sweet-faced ingenue of “Tanner Hall” and the pointless “A Nightmare On Elm Street” remake. But after playing another fresh-faced, if slightly more acerbic character in Fincher’s “The Social Network” and being Final Girl in a grueling casting circus that went on for months, Mara had her hair dyed and cut, her eyebrows bleached, had four piercings put in either ear as well as having her brow and nipple pierced (the other body modifications were faked) and emerged as Lisbeth Salander. The result is undoubtedly iconic, and it garnered her an Oscar nomination too.



VINCENT D'ONOFRIO as PVT. "GOMER PYLE" LAWRENCE
(FULL METAL JACKET)




Whether because he’s now better known as a TV actor of heftier build (after nearly a decade on “Law & Order: The Other One That’s Not About Sex Crimes”) or because when he was cast in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” he was hardly a household name, face or waistline, D’Onofrio’s record-breaking transformation for that role does not seem to register quite as strongly as some others. But in fact to play Private “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence, despite the fact he’d originally been written as a skinny redneck, D’Onofrio gained 70 pounds to meet Kubrick’s new definition of the character as big and clumsy—reportedly the most weight ever gained for a role. He also hurt his knee during filming, partially due to the excess weight, but a mere nine months later filmed a scene for “Adventures In Babysitting” which showed off his muscular physique (indeed, he’s mistaken for Thor by one character).


The other ten actor/actress transformations can be found at the ( SOURCE )


What are some of your fave actor/actress cinematic transformations, ONTD?
Tags: actor / actress, charlize theron, christian bale, discussion, film, jared leto / 30stm, kate / rooney mara, list, tom cruise
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