None of us really think about the time and effort that goes into the makeup and wardrobe of some of our favorite characters, but these actors are almost unrecognizable from their usual self. We take a look at 25 actors that look nothing like their television personas.
This might be one of the most unsightly transformations yet. American Horror Story is an anthology horror television series created for cable network FX. Pepper, played by Naomi Grossman, is a microcephalic woman that appears first in Asylum, and earlier in life in Freak Show. It reportedly took two people and almost three hours to transform Naomi into Pepper, and that was with them working constantly. Although the nose, ears, and teeth were prosthetics, Naomi did have to shave most of her hair off for the role.
If you’re a true fan of The Handmaid’s Tale, then you know who Janine is. Played by Madeline Brewer, Janine is a handmaid who tragically has an eye taken out as punishment for talking back to the Aunts. In real life, Brewer said that while the prosthetic eye is super uncomfortable, it definitely helps her focus enough to get into character. Apparently being disoriented and off-balance is part of what created Janine’s personality. While Janine isn’t considered the boldest character, it is clear that Brewer puts in tons of effort to make sure her appearance looks real.
OITNB’s Blanca Flores, played by Laura Gomez, always looks disheveled and unkempt. She has an angry demeanor that doesn’t resemble the actress’s personality. In fact, Gomez is different from her on-screen character in every way!
And we’re back to OITNB again, but this time we have Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren. Played by Uzo Aduba, Suzanne is introduced as a slightly unhinged inmate who lacks the social development that others naturally have. She becomes easily frustrated and is known for her big, bulgy eyes. This is more of a testament to Uzo’s acting abilities since her appearance is kept pretty basic for the show. She even won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role. In real life, Aduba couldn’t be any more poised if she tried.
Strangers With Candy is a spoof of the after-school specials of the 1970s and 1980s that follows the life of forty-six-year-old Jerri Blank, played by Amy Sedaris. Sedaris is probably best known for this role, though it’s not very likely that many would recognize her in real life. Throughout the show, Jerri had a wide collection of wigs. As her hairstyle changed from episode to episode, one thing that always remained the same was the amount of makeup she wore. The combination of her look with her nasal voice made for a very memorable show and character.
Next up, we have another OITNB character, but are you really surprised? After all, most of these actors had to change their whole look in order to accurately reflect that of a prisoner. Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett, played by Taryn Manning, is based on a real-life prisoner “who proudly called herself a redneck.” Pennsatucky started off the show with no teeth though she did receive dental work as the show progressed. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much to be able to draw comparisons to Manning herself, who is an absolute bombshell.
Let’s throw it back for a second to Family Matters, an American television sitcom that came out in the late 80s. Originally a spinoff of Perfect Strangers, Family Matters followed the Winslows, a middle-class African American family living in Chicago. Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows’ nerdy neighbor, Steve Urkel, who quickly became the show’s main character. Played by Jaleel White, Urkel was known for his geeky fashion sense — high-waisted pants, big red glasses, and suspenders. White couldn’t be more different from his character, though, and his appearance definitely reflects that.
True Detective is an American anthology crime drama television series created and written by Nic Pizzolatto. Matthew McConaughey played Rust Cohle in the first season of True Detective. Rustin Spencer ‘Rust’ Cohle is a Louisiana state homicide detective that has long straggly hair, a handle-bar mustache, unhappy eyes, and a dead expression. He is the polar opposite of McConaughey himself who has a charming personality, a rugged look, and a bright smile. And while the actor has had his fair share of interesting hair moments, he definitely seems a little more put together than Rust.
If you’re familiar with Bryan Cranston, you probably remember him as Hal Wilkerson on Malcolm in the Middle, the goofy and laidback family man. With this kind of role under his belt, it may come as a surprise that Cranston also played Walter White in the crime drama series, Breaking Bad. Though Walter also has a family of his own, he couldn’t be more different from Hal. Besides the fact that he lost his hair to chemo, White is depressed and clearly weathered from his life of crime. Cranston has won multiple awards for his portrayal of ‘Heisenberg’.
Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey, might be one of the most beautiful characters on GOT. Her long blonde hair and bell-sleeved dresses made for a trademark look. In real life, though, it’s clear that Headey isn’t as high maintenance as her character is. The actress rocks short, dark hair and tattoos. Her friendly face completely sets her apart from her role in the series, who seemed to be pretty evil, if we may add. Cersei is usually seen with a glass of wine in hand and a wicked smirk on her face.
Fargo is an American dark comedy–crime drama anthology television series. Ewan McGregor plays Emmit Stussy in the third season of Fargo. Thanks to hair and makeup, however, the actor looks almost unrecognizable. Stussy has long, gray hair, although the top of his head is balding. He has a gray, handle-bar-like mustache happening. It’s clear that McGregor had to spend quite a bit of time in the makeup chair before going on screen. In real life, the actor isn’t graying as he is much younger than his character, which would also be why he has a better hairline.
Like most of the characters on GOT, Daenerys Targaryen is well-known for the long, white-blonde hair that brands her as a typical member of the Targaryen family. Daenerys, played by Emilia Clarke, is also known for her complex hairdos and warrior-type outfits. On the other hand, Clarke has a much shorter and darker haircut. It’s also clear that Clarke’s personality completely differs from that of Daenerys, who is a lot more serious. Clarke has a bubbly air about her and is never seen without red lips or a smile on her face.
We’re back to Downton Abbey but this time, we’re focusing on Daisy Mason. Daisy, portrayed by Sophie McShera, is a maid and housekeeper. The character’s appearance is dowdy and unkempt, the complete opposite of the actress who plays her. In real life, McShera looks quite different in terms of wardrobe, considering that the show is basically a period piece. While the English actress doesn’t have to sit in the makeup chair for hours at a time before filming, it’s clear that she radiates a different kind of energy in real life, setting her apart from her character.
The Big Bang Theory is an American comedic sitcom. Interestingly enough, Johnny Galecki, who plays Leonard Hofstadter, was originally asked to play the role of Sheldon. The actor ended up asking for the role of Leonard instead, as he believed he was better suited to embody the essence of that character. Johnny looks nothing like his nerdy character, but there is one thing that they have in common: Johnny is an accomplished cellist, a talent that was also written into the show for Leonard.
Queen Elizabeth II
If you haven’t heard of The Crown, it’s a Netflix original drama that’s based on an award-winning play, The Audience. The lavish series chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II, portrayed by Claire Foy, from the 1940s to modern times. Unlike her character, Foy has much darker hair in real life. Unsurprisingly, the actress’s style isn’t nearly as old-fashioned as her character’s. Come to think of it, Foy doesn’t really resemble Queen Elizabeth II on the red carpet at all.
Gossip Girl is an American teen drama television series based on a book. Dorota, played by Zuzanna Szadkowski, is Blair Waldorf’s maid and assistant. “Word on the street” is that she could have very well been her closest and only true friend throughout the series. Dorota always had the same attire, wearing a black and white maid’s outfit with her hair pulled tightly back in a bun. In real life, however, Szadkowski has a much more laid-back look. She’s clearly stylish and her smile is absolutely radiant. Xoxo, Gossip Girl.
You didn’t think we were going to forget about Stranger Things, did you? If you’ve never heard the name, Stranger Things is a thrilling original Netflix series that was first released in 2016. Millie Bobby Brown is an English actress that plays Eleven, a little girl with extraordinary powers. Brown has won multiple awards for her portrayal as Eleven in the show. In real life, the actress is the polar opposite of her character. She’s known to be very fashion-forward and doesn’t regularly rock Eleven’s trademark shaved head. In fact, the fifteen-year-old is absolutely glam!
We’re back to GOT. Lord Varys, played by Conleth Hill, is popularly known as the Spider. This character is rarely seen smiling or even taking his hands out of his sleeves. But more than anything else, Varys’ distinct look comes from his bald head. That’s why it comes as a shock that Conleth Hill is actually a silver fox with a thick head of hair. Now that we know creating Varys meant giving up such amazing locks, we are even more grateful for Conleth’s epic performance.
It’s no secret that Judy Greer can be considered the quintessential “best friend” of Hollywood. She herself wrote an autobiography about it called, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star. Greer has definitely made a name of herself, creating unique characters throughout her career. One of her most memorable is Kitty Sanchez, the hilariously inappropriate secretary from Arrested Development. Kitty’s wild hair and apparent lazy eye are part of what made her a fan favorite.
Game of Thrones, or GOT for short, is a fantasy drama television series. Honestly, if you haven’t heard of it, you must be living under a rock because it’s all anyone could talk about for the last eight years. Anyway, Sandor Clegane is played by Rory McCann, who is the polar opposite of his moody character. Anyone that has seen the show knows that Clegane hasn’t smiled once in the entire history of the show. Understandably so, though, considering that he had part of his face tragically burned off as a child by his arch-nemesis and brother.
America Ferrera is well-known for her portrayal as Betty Suarez, better known as ‘Ugly Betty.’ Ferrera plays a character that looks like the complete opposite of her natural self throughout the Ugly Betty series. While the two do share long, brown hair, that’s pretty much the extent of it. For the show, America rocks a set of braces and a pair of red glasses, not to mention the fact that she has some pretty wild wardrobe choices. In real life, Ferrera is much more glamorous and put-together than her character.
The makeup team for the GOT cast takes their job very seriously. Take Gilly, for instance. Played by English actress Hannah Murray, Gilly was the poor damsel in distress. As this character, Murray must have had to get used to acting in the dark. Most of her scenes throughout the series take place at night or at the edges of the Earth where the sun doesn’t shine. In real life, Murray rocks red locks and is way more fashion-forward than her television persona.
This may be another OITNB character, but it’ll definitely blow your mind. There’s really not much to say about Francesca Curran’s transformation into Helen except for the fact that it’s just incredible. The Minnesota native was relatively unknown before landing this role on the show. Reportedly, this self-proclaimed girly-girl was a bit concerned about shaving her head for the role of inmate Helen but ultimately decided the opportunity was too good to pass up. Helen rocks a completely bald head, accompanied by neck and face tattoos.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a show based on a novel by Margaret Atwood. The series is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Lydia Clements, often referred to as Aunt Lydia, works at the Rachel and Leah Center where she teaches fertile women about their roles as handmaids. Her look is dark and ominous, perfectly reflecting the very aura of Gilead. Lydia, portrayed by Ann Dowd, is one of the most complicated characters in the show. It’s not a surprise that the actress won an Emmy for her performance.
Downton Abbey is a drama that follows the lives of the Crawley family and their servants in the family’s Edwardian country house. Mrs. Hughes, played by Phyllis Logan, was the no-nonsense housekeeper who always had her hands busy whether she was delegating chores or maintaining the estate. In real life, though, it’s clear that Logan is far from her character. The show’s makeup team knew what they were doing in making Mrs. Hughes as drab as possible, which also helps to reflect the mid-1900’s time period of the show.