14 Actors Who Brilliantly Portrayed Real People On Screen

In anticipation of the release of the biopic Blonde, starring actress Ana de Armas has posted her photos as Marilyn Monroe on her Instagram. The audience was surprised to see how much Ana looked like Marilyn, even though in real life she looks completely different.

At CHEERY, we found actors and actresses who managed to brilliantly portray real people on screen thanks to the help of makeup artists and their own acting talent.

1. Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly

Everett Collection / East News, Andres Otero / Everett Collection / East News

In 2019, the movie Bombshell was released. To look like TV presenter Megyn Kelly, Charlize Theron had to spend 3 hours in the makeup chair every day. Silicone prostheses, thanks to which such a resemblance with the TV presenter was achieved, were made by makeup artist Kazu Hiro. He had previously won an Oscar for his work in Darkest Hour, where he turned Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill.

Theron’s eye shape was changed with the help of special false eyelashes. At first, Charlize couldn’t get used to them and had to blink very often. But not even this was enough for the moviemakers. The work of the makeup artists was so thorough that the shape of her nostrils was changed. No wonder, Mr. Hiro added another Oscar to his collection.

2. Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland

Renée Zellweger thought the moviemakers were crazy when they offered her to portray Judy Garland because being a blue-eyed blonde, she didn’t look like Judy at all. But the prospect of playing the Old Hollywood star was so tempting that Zellweger agreed.

She spent hours watching videos of Garland’s performances, trying to imitate her body movements and her deep voice. Later, makeup artists joined the project: a wig, contact lenses, and false teeth completed Renée’s transformation. Her efforts didn’t go in vain. Zellweger won an Oscar for her portrayal of Judy.

3. Ana De Armas as Marilyn Monroe

Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection / East News, Mary Evans / AF Archive / East News

To look like Monroe, Ana de Armas had to spend 3 hours in the makeup chair every morning. Judging by the movie trailer, Marilyn’s signature hairstyle and makeup were right on spot: the actress looks almost identical to the famous blonde. The biopic is set to premiere on Netflix on September 23.

4. Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking

The creators of the movie The Theory of Everything and starring actor Eddie Redmayne had to work hard to depict the scientist in a credible way. Hawking’s wife provided the film crew with a lot of photographs from the family archive to help the actor look as much like her husband as possible. The shape of Redmayne’s head and ears was changed, and he had to wear prosthetic shoulders, kneecaps, and even hands.

The audience and critics were delighted with the movie, which proves Eddie managed to accurately convey the scientist. By the way, the actor won an Oscar for this role.

5. Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart

In 2009, the biopic about pilot Amelia Earhart was released. Hilary Swank played the main role. Her task was to authentically portray the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. And it seems that the actress was able to tackle this challenge. Although the movie received a lot of negative reviews, the press wrote that Swank’s haircut, makeup, clothes, and mannerisms were all very convincing.

6. Meryl Streep as Julia Child

© Julie & Julia / Columbia Pictures and co-produsers, Courtesy Everett Collection / East News

Meryl Streep received her sixteenth Academy Award nomination for her role in Julie & Julia. To be convincing in the role of Julia Child, the famous cooking teacher and television personality, it wasn’t enough just to use makeup and costumes. Julia was 6 feet 2 inches tall, and Streep is 5 feet 6 inches.

As a result, the moviemakers had to make the actress look taller by lowering countertops around her and choosing the right camera angles. In addition, Meryl had to wear high heels throughout the filming. Also, the actress gained 15 pounds for this role.

7. Lily James as Pamela Anderson

© Pam & Tommy / Annapurna Pictures and co-producers, Mary Evans / AF Archive / East News

The work that makeup artists did during the production of the miniseries Pam & Tommy is truly amazing. They managed to transform actress Lily James into famous blonde Pamela Anderson, and they had to use a prosthetic forehead piece, fake eyebrows, fake teeth, fake breasts, and blue contact lenses to achieve this resemblance. The process of transformation took 4 hours every day.

By the way, the creators of Pam & Tommy chose the characters’ outfits very carefully: all the clothes used in the series corresponded to the fashion of 1995-1998 and were purchased second-hand.

8. Taron Egerton as Elton John

Justin Timberlake, Tom Hardy, James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe were considered for the role of Elton John in the movie Rocketman. But eventually, Taron Egerton landed the title role and coped with it perfectly. The actor performed all the songs in the movie himself. Besides, he paid great attention to the style of the musician. Throughout the movie, Taron wore 53 different pairs of glasses which Elton John is so fond of.

9. Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin

In 1992, a biopic about the most famous silent film actor Charlie Chaplin was released. Robert Downey Jr. played the starring role. It might seem that it’s not so difficult to portray Chaplin. It’s just enough to put on a black bowler hat, add some makeup to the eyes and apply a fake mustache.

But Downey did much more when preparing for the role. He learned all of Chaplin’s roles by heart. He also hired a specialist who helped him to thoroughly copy Chaplin’s poses and mannerisms. To top it off, Downey learned to play the violin and tennis left-handed, just like Charlie Chaplin.

10. Laetitia Casta as Brigitte Bardot

The role of Brigitte Bardot in the movie Gainsbourg was called one of the greatest works of Laetitia Casta by magazines. But the model doesn’t look like the French star that much in real life. To achieve this striking resemblance, Casta had to work hard with a dance teacher to be as graceful as Bardot.

11. Tom Hanks as Walt Disney

© Saving Mr. Banks / Walt Disney Pictures and co-producers, Courtesy Everett Collection / East News

When filming the movie Saving Mr. Banks, Tom Hanks had to deal with a difficult task because no one had ever played Walt Disney before. Hanks said that playing this man was as difficult as portraying the US President and Elvis Presley at the same time.

To prepare for his role, Tom Hanks made a few visits to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and interviewed some of Disney’s relatives. Then makeup artists took care of the rest. Their work was meticulous about every detail of the actor’s portrayal of Walt Disney, right down to measuring the exact length of his mustache.

12. Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy

The costume designers of the 2016 movie Jackie recreated the wardrobe of the first lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy, in every detail. Jacqueline was a style icon of her time, and therefore her portrayal in the movie required pinpoint accuracy. According to Natalie Portman, dresses, hairstyles, and makeup played an important role in the movie because this was how the real Jackie wanted to be seen.

By the way, while costume designers were working on their part, Portman studied her character. The actress watched videos and read interviews featuring Jackie.

13. Poppy Montgomery as Joanne K. Rowling

Poppy Montgomery portrayed writer Joanne K. Rowling in the 2011 TV movie Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story. This story is about 20-year-old Joanne who was left alone with a little child. At the time, publishers refused to publish her book about young wizard Harry Potter. The audience noted that Montgomery was great in this role.

14. Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II

According to Helen Mirren, she looks like the Queen of the United Kingdom even without makeup on, and therefore she needs only glasses and a wig to fully transform into Elizabeth II. During the production of the movie The Queen, the actress regularly watched videos featuring Her Majesty in order to better imitate her movements and mannerisms. She got into the character so much that crew members addressed her standing straight up.

Which of the actors mentioned above was better at portraying a real person in your opinion?

Preview photo credit Pam & Tommy / Annapurna Pictures and co-producers, Mary Evans / AF Archive / East News
Cheery/Films/14 Actors Who Brilliantly Portrayed Real People On Screen
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