Actors have the ability to bring us into a story and to transform themselves. So much so that we forget the actor and only think of the character. Certainly makeup, clothing, and special effects are the answer for many of them, but the transformation of a great actor is also in the look, attitude, posture, and body shape. It's a total composition that prepares the performer to be the character, as recommended by Actor's Studio.
The trick is to not be typecast in a role that is repeated over and over, and these huge actors have been successful at doing that. They are masters in the art of reinventing themselves, for our greatest pleasure as a viewer...
1. Gary Oldman
The actor is completely unrecognizable when he takes on a role: look at him in Dracula, True Romance, The Fifth Element, Interstate 60, and Harry Potter! Even when we know that it’s him, we can’t see beyond these characters.
2. Helena Bonham Carter
Whether in Fight Club, Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, or The King's Speech, the actress is amazing. In addition, she isn’t afraid of projects that could confine her to a certain type of film: from an ape to the queen, she does it all!
3. Ian McKellen
His eyes and nose tend to give him away when it comes to transforming himself into another character, but this actor responds when he has to play important characters: in Richard III, Rasputin, David Copperfield, The Lord of the Rings, and X-Men, we remember his performances as an actor.
4. Jared Leto
Jared Leto likes to be transformed into an outcast. Just watch his achievements in Fight Club, Alexander, Chapter 27, Dallas Buyers Club, and Suicide Squad.
5. Cate Blanchett
Although she always seems to have the same serious personality in her roles, you believe her characters in The Lord of the Rings, The Aviator, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I'm Not There, and Cinderella.
6. Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes has delighted us in all his great roles, and although he doesn’t really play characters with a lot of makeup, he still plays his characters brilliantly. Here’s proof: Schindler's List, The Constant Gardener, Harry Potter, The Duchess, and The Grand Budapest Hotel ... and many others.
7. Tilda Swinton
Her specialty: rather dark, disturbing roles in which she plays on the psychology of the characters. Check out Orlando, The Chronicles of Narnia, Michael Clayton, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Doctor Strange.
8. Michael Fassbender
This actor has proved his worth when you look at the important roles he has played in 300, A Dangerous Method, Prometheus, Macbeth, and Steve Jobs. The transformation is not so much due to special effects as is it is to Fassbender’s subtle acting and the hard work he put into his body to look like his characters.
9. Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp has always played roles in which he surprised the audience with his disguises as well as his creativity. Admire his ingenuity in Pirates of the Caribbean, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, and Black Mass, just to name 5…
10. Meryl Streep
If we were to list here all the films Meryl Streep brilliantly transformed herself, the list would be too long… but here are a few: The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia, The Iron Lady, Into the Woods, and Ricki and the Flash.