Say what you will about Hollywood, but everyone can agree that it is very glamorous. Beautiful people are portrayed in an even more beautiful way, almost putting them in a class above everyone else – something that average folks like us aspire to, but rarely ever achieve. I mean, sure, if we all walked around with special lighting and glam squads consisting of the best hair stylists, make up artists and fashion consultants around, I’d argue we could all be made to look pretty darn good. But still, there is something unique about certain celebrities, actors especially, who are almost unfairly blessed with both talent and beauty that makes them untouchable and, well, basically set for life. People like Halle Berry and Kate Winslet are in another stratosphere at this point - and will never have to worry about falling from that status in anyone’s eyes, at least not until they’ve had a very long, amazing run.
Now, given that fact, I’m always so impressed when these beautiful people choose to transform themselves into the exact opposite – characters so hideous that it is almost impossible to believe who the real actors are behind them. Case in point: I was (finally) watching Skyfall the other day and, although I knew that Javier Bardem was playing a villainous role in the film, I was shocked at how downright ugly they had made him. I was so distracted by it that I started analyzing every feature and questioning whether I’d ever thought the actor himself was attractive to begin with. Thoughts like: “How could Penelope have chosen this guy?!” started crossing my mind and I literally had to look at photos of him online to put my mind at ease and stop worrying about the possibility of Penelope Cruz’s child growing up to be unattractive. (As if that could ever happen.) My point being, the hair and make up crew had literally transformed him to an unrecognizable state, and similar to how I felt about his character in No Country for Old Men, I started to really despise him.
And it got me thinking how truly remarkable these transformations can be. Clearly some of the good looks in Hollywood are “smoke and mirrors” but there are certainly some natural beauties out there, and getting them to look naturally UNattractive is pretty amazing – which brings me to Charlize Theron in Monster. I mean… how UGLY was that character? And how many times during the film did you have to stop and remind yourself that yes, that was in fact Charlize Theron up on that big screen? The combination of the physical transformation coupled with her incredibly convincing performance had me scratching my head the whole time and wondering where Charlize had gone. It was one of the best transformations I’d ever seen and made me respect her even more as an actress. Clearly vanity was not an issue for her as she was not afraid to be portrayed in such an unflattering light. People may have thought of her as just a pretty face, but after that film, it was clear that she was certainly not hiding behind her good looks anymore.
Lastly, there’s one my favorites – although I admittedly see him a little differently these days given all the weird Scientology stuff, I still think Tom Cruise is a pretty handsome dude. And while this particular role wasn’t much more than a cameo, I was delighted to see him playing such a disgusting, lewd, grotesquely funny character in the hilarious Tropic Thunder. Not only did he look gross, the dancing over the closing credits put the whole thing over the top. If you haven’t seen the film, you don’t really need any context to enjoy this:
There are countless other beauties who have not been afraid to slap on a prosthetic nose (Nicole Kidman in The Hours) or slather on some green paint (Mila Kunis in Oz the Great and Powerful) to get into character, and I admire them all. Not only can it be incredibly uncomfortable (imagine how many hours of prep it takes, not to mention endless days of shooting) but it’s also very refreshing and a reminder to everyone that it’s OK to be seen in a not so perfect light every once in a while… even if you are a gorgeous Hollywood star.
Javier Bardem (Skyfall)
Charlize Theron (Monster)
Tom Cruise (Tropic Thunder)