Cinematic chameleons: Playing their parts by changing their looks


Via, I came across a list of the “Top 10 physical transformations for film.” It recognizes some truly stunning instances of shape-shifting in the service of art, including these:

Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry

Charlize Theron in Monster

But, as usual, the list was mostly male-oriented. So here are some cinematic chameleons of the female variety. I’m including TV as well as film, and some of these are really evolutions over the span of a career, rather than transformations for a specific roles. But hairdos, makeup, wardrobe and weight changes have definitely helped these actresses play their parts. Here they are in no particular order.

1. Chloe Sevigny, If These Walls Could Talk 2 vs. Big Love

From breathtaking butch to what-is-that-hair-about housewife. I much prefer her on her bike.

2. Leisha Hailey, All Over Me vs. The L Word

I fell in love with her pink hair and adorable face. I’m still swooning, but she’s sizzlingly sexy now, rather than cute — I can’t really see her as that quirky kid in the guitar store.

3. Nicole Kidman, The Others vs. The Hours

Two haunting characters with two contrasting honkers. Actually, what impressed me even more than her proboscis in The Hours was the way she carried herself — stiffly, but also with submerged energy, as if her frame were straining to contain all those weighty Woolfian words.

4. Toni Collette, Muriel’s Wedding vs. everything else since then

I love her in any shape, size or accent.

5. Laurel Holloman, The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love vs. The L Word

I miss cute little chivalrous Randy Dean. I also miss pre-breakup Tina, but maybe she’ll be back next season.

6. Frances McDormand, Fargo vs. Laurel Canyon

From “funny is sexy” to “sexy is sexy” with the doffing of an earflap cap. Oh, and a baby and an ear-melting, side-splitting accent.

7. Meryl Streep, Manhattan vs. The Devil Wears Prada

This is what you call aging very, very well. It’s all about the hair — or is it all about the pursed lips?

8. Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins vs. Victor/Victoria

I love her in any role too. But she was so dashing when she played a man playing a woman. More like Victor/Victori-yum!

Who has made you do a double take? This list is only a start, and we have Chloe Sevigny to thank for that — when I see her in butch mode, my brain surrenders to much baser instincts and I’m useless for at least a day.

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