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Gary Oldman as Churchill? Woody Harrelson as President Johnson? The astonishing actor transformations you never saw coming


Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill? We gotta say, there isn't an striking similarity. But with a consummate makeup team, the slender 58-year-old with a full head of hair has been magically transformed into the roly-poly, baldy-waldy wartime leader for 2017 drama, Darkest Hour. Just check out the extraordinary contrast between real Gary and transformed Gary below.

But what other actors have been moulded into someone else through the talents of the makeup department? Here are some of our favourites... 

Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos (Monster)

When it was first announced it sounded like crazy casting – one of the world’s most beautiful and elegant women as someone who… wasn’t? But bringing in Charlize Theron as serial killer Aileen Wuornos was a masterstroke. Theron gained 30 lbs (on a doughnuts and potato chips diet), shaved off her eyebrows and donned prosthetic teeth to transform herself into the white trash man-murderer, and bagged herself a Best Actress Oscar for her vanity-free efforts.

Marlon Brando as Don Corleone (The Godfather)

Nobody at Paramount wanted the famously difficult Marlon Brando as the star of their much-vaunted Godfather adaptation. For one thing, the 47-year-old was too young to play the aged Don Corleone. Never fear, a bit of makeup would sort that out. So Brando had lines drawn onto his face, his hair was greyed and he had dental implants inserted to give his character an aged, jowly look. A Best Actor Oscar surely followed.

Tom Cruise as Les Grossman (Tropic Thunder)

There were many people who walked out of 2008 comedy Tropic Thunder without ever realising that they’d just watched Tom Cruise in a movie-stealing cameo. Unrecognisable under a thick fat suit and inches of prosthetics, Tom was potty-mouthed businessman Les Grossman and proved so popular that a spin-off film was even mooted.

John Travolta as Edna Turblad (Hairspray)

John Travolta wasn’t the first Edna Turblad, the outsize mother of dance-crazy teen Tracy in cult musical Hairspray – the honour goes to crossdressing pioneer Divine. But seeing John Travolta as the 20-stone agoraphobe was instantly memorable, and it was good to see him back strutting his stuff in a musical, even if he wasn’t quite the lithe twentysomething he was in Grease.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe (Looper)

The main problem with having two actors playing characters at different stages of their lives in the same movie is that they rarely convince as being the same person. So, to help audiences accept Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the younger version of Bruce Willis, the 31-year-old actor was given a new prosthetic chin and had his eyebrows re-shapen.

Emma Thompson as Nanny McPhee (Nanny McPhee)

Emma Thompson as the wart-ravaged, buck-toothed and mono-browed nanny? Emma… Thompson…? Well, with the aid of a clever makeup department, the 46-year-old beauty was transformed into the ugly old childminder and – hey presto! – a new children’s favourite was born.

Woody Harrelson as President Johnson (LBJ)

At first glance, the sight of Woody Harrelson with an enlarged nose, a baggy chin and Dumbo ears is a bit alarming, but that’s what it’s taken to make the Texan-born actor look like Texan-born US President Lyndon B Johnson in next year's LBJ. Interestingly, Harrelson’s father was at one point implicated – by several conspiracy theorists, mind – to be behind the murder of John F Kennedy, whose assassination led to Johnson becoming President.

Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

Brad Pitt was 45 when he took on the title role in David Fincher’s epic adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He had to play Benjamin Button at every stage of his (curious) life – from an elderly baby to youthful old man, with Pitt saying he was in the makeup chair for, on average, five hours a day.

You can see Gary Oldman as Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill when Darkest Hour is released on 24th November 2017. Share your own favourite actor transformations with us @Cineworld.