When thinking of Hollywood actors, most people envision attractive people in expensive, stylish clothes, walking the red carpet while having their pictures taken for the tabloids. While we all love to stare at pretty faces and fancy wardrobe choices, it’s often the peculiarities, the unusual looks, and the unexpected personalities that make a character truly stand out.
These actresses may be confident, glamorous and elegant in real life, but the offbeat characters they portrayed — and the physical transformations they underwent to nail their looks — show us how truly talented these women are…
1. America Ferrera: This might be the epitome of an actress who “de-beautified” herself for a stereotypical geeky role. The name of the show is Ugly Betty, so the protagonist stands out from her coworkers in the fashion world. However, in real life, America has quite a different look.
2. Rooney Mara: This actress went all out for her role as Lisbeth Salander, and it was a pretty good decision; The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo rocked Rooney’s career, as she gave an amazing performance in combination with her memorable look.
3. Charlize Theron: This actress likes to shake up her looks and take on roles that aren’t as glamorous as her J’adore Dior commercials. Most notable was her transformation for the movie, Monster, which earned her Oscar gold.
4. Mayim Bialik: Who says beauty and brains don’t mix? Mayik may be a bit more stylish than her character Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, but their smarts are the same: Mayik has a Ph.D. in neuroscience just like Amy does.
5. Pauley Perrette: While Pauley is a tough chick herself, she is nowhere near the level of goth and punk that her infamous character Abby is. The NCIS make-up and hair crew must have had a lot of fun with her before every episode.
6. Demi Moore: For a model, singer, and ’90s beauty icon, her role as G.I. Jane in the movie by the same name was a big change for Demi Moore. While she is not the first actress to shave her head for a role, it was the attitude, the muscle, and the battle wounds that left her barely recognizable. What a hero!
7. Uzo Aduba: When Orange Is The New Black took Netflix by a storm, fans instantly fell in love with the kooky but sympathetic character Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. Not only was the hairdo quite notable, but Uzo must have had to practice her quirky mannerisms to a tee.
8. Taryn Manning: Starring alongside Uzo is Taryn Manning, who plays Tiffany Doggett, also known as “Pensatucky.” Her character is a meth addict, resulting in her missing a tooth or two. Despite her rough looks, she is a character you just love to hate.
9. Madeleine Brewer: Despite Madeleine Brewer only being 26 years old, she has already shown the world her extensive range when it comes to acting. She’s not afraid to flaunt a dramatic look either: she loses her eye for The Handmaid’s Tale, and sports a throat tattoo in Orange Is The New Black.
10. Eden Sher: As a child star, it’s hard to find your own style and personality while growing up in the spotlight. Eden Sher, however, seems to have it all figured out. She had a lot of fun playing geeky girl Sue Heck on The Middle, and we can’t imagine anyone else in the role.
11. Kate McKinnon: Much like people assume beauty and brains don’t go together, there are those who foolishly think that beautiful women can’t be funny. Leave it up to Kate McKinnon to prove them wrong! Although she often transforms herself for Saturday Night Live, her humor is always equally wonderful.
12. Maisie Williams: Growing up as Game Of Thrones‘ Arya Stark has to be quite a unique experience, but Maisie Williams seems to have it all under control. The stylish teenager definitely doesn’t look like the character who’s ready to kill a man, though.
13. Hannah Murray: While we’re on the GoT train, let’s talk about Hannah Murray. She plays Gilly, a simple peasant girl, and also the spacey teenager Cassie on Skins. In real life though, this girl is neither simple nor spacey!
14. Tatiana Maslany: Where should we even start with Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black? She plays over 12 different characters on the show. Since they’re all clones they share the same face, yet they all have unique looks, accents, and personalities. What a performance!
15. Margot Robbie: When Margot Robbie was cast to play real-life figure skater Tonya Harding, it was followed by a lot of skepticism. Tonya was a self-proclaimed hick and a woman who was not to be messed with; Margot was elegant and delicate, but she nailed the role and proved the pessimists wrong.
16. Jaime Pressly: Margot Robbie’s lookalike is pretty familiar with a big makeover, too. When she starred as Joy Turner in My Name Is Earl, for example, she got extensions, a complete wardrobe turnaround, and an extra-thick accent. She made Joy the coolest crazy ex-wife a man could have.
17. Ariel Winter: This Modern Family star is pretty much the exact opposite of Alex Dunphy, the character she’s been playing for years. In real life, she’s a bit more like Alex’s sister Haley: she likes shopping, going to the beach, fashion, and make-up. Still, she does a great job portraying the frustrated brainiac we’ve all come to love.
18. Millie Bobby Brown: Sure, Demi Moore shaved her head, but it’s a lot harder to do when you’re only 12 years old. By playing the intense, mysterious Eleven on Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown bought herself an instant ticket to fame and glory. She doesn’t get as many nose bleeds though, which is probably a good thing.
19. Shannon Purser: Another Stranger Things cast member, she played Barbara Holland, aka Barb. As the show is set in the ’80s, everyone’s character’s style was adjusted to fit the times, but Shannon Purser’s transformation may have been the biggest.
20. Naomi Grossman: Arguably one of the biggest transformations (that didn’t involve CGI) in the last few years is Naomi Grossman’s portrayal of Pepper in American Horror Story: Asylum. It took two hours and three make-up artists to create Pepper’s look, but the effect she had on viewers made it totally worth it.