The Red Queen in Alice and Wonderland
Helena Bonham Carter is more than just crazy wigs and gothic makeup. She was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her star turn in 1997’s The Wings of a Dove and was recognized in the Best Supporting Actress category for her work opposite Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. The wildly popular King George VI biopic hit cinemas in 2010, the same year as Burton’s hugely successful (it made over a billion dollars worldwide) take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
“I always like camouflaging myself, basically. She’s just such a strong character. It’s always liberating to play someone who has basically stopped growing up. She was just brilliantly written. It was a gift.” She stated to Den of Geek during the promotion of 2016’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. Although, the sequel was way less successful than its predecessor, but Bonham Carter was one of the few stand-outs.
The raven-haired beauty was also made to look hideous for the Harry Potter films, in which she played deranged Death Eater, Bellatrix Lestrange. By the last movie she’d gotten used to the rotten (and apparently “very expensive”) false teeth she had to wear.
Bill Skarsgård (IT)
Hiring an actor who moonlights as a model only to cover him in makeup might seem pointless, but Bill Skarsgård wasn’t cast as Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s IT because of his good looks. The Swedish actor brought a whole new level of intensity to the character, setting his Pennywise apart from the earlier Tim Curry TV version. Getting into the right mindset for the role was difficult for Skarsgård, and he found it even harder to shake it off after the film wrapped.
“I was home, done with the movie, and I started having very strange and vivid Pennywise dreams,” Skarsgård told Entertainment Weekly. “Every night, he came and visited. It was in the shape of either me dealing with him, sort of Pennywise as a separate entity of me, and then also me as Pennywise in circumstances that I didn’t appreciate.”
It wasn’t just Skarsgård himself who got spooked — some of the child actors he worked with were “traumatized” too. “Some of them were really intrigued, but some couldn’t look at me, and some were shaking — this one kid started crying,” he told Interview. The actor admitted that the moment director Andy Muschietti yelled “Action,” he went straight into character, tears or no tears. “So some of these kids got terrified and started to cry in the middle of the take, and then I realized, ‘Holy s***, what am I doing? What is this? This is horrible.'”
Aileen Wuornos in Monster
South African beauty Charlize Theron is known for playing characters that are both tough and sexy at the same time, but she only had to bring one of those traits to her breakthrough role. You could certainly describe real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos as tough, but she most definitely wasn’t sexy in the traditional sense.
Theron portrayed Wuornos in 2003’s Monster (directed by future Wonder Woman helmer Patty Jenkins), giving a performance that the Academy deemed worthy of a Best Actress statuette.
Theron gained 30lbs in weight for the role, but allowing herself to become a little out of shape still didn’t change the fact that her face was flawless.
Described by Den of Geek as “an unfeasibly tall man,” Brian Prince won the part of the titular alien in 2018’s The Predator not only because he’s huge, but because he’s also a parkour expert. He’d previously done stunt work for The Walking Dead, and has since worked on Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther since then, but Shane Black’s reboot of John McTiernan’s ’80s classic is without a doubt his biggest gig to date — and it came out of nowhere.
Prince was studying art in Atlanta (he spent much of his time drawing comics, he admitted) when he decided to submit a video of himself doing parkour to The Predator’s stunt coordinator. Before he knew it, he was on a plane bound for Los Angeles.
Standing at a whopping 6’10”, Prince was the perfect build to play a hideous predator, though in real life he’s not only good-looking, he’s apparently a great guy, too.
Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter
Ralph Fiennes almost turned down the role of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films, only agreeing after his sister convinced him it was worth his while. The Brit’s performance is perhaps one of the most underrated villainous turns in Hollywood history. Everything about his take on He Who Must Not Be Named was pitch perfect, from his callous killings of anyone pro-muggle to his iconic laugh. “The endlessly versatile Ralph Fiennes gives an astonishing, multi-nuanced performance as the Dark Lord, one that (with some justice) should earn him a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination,” veteran film critic Emanuel Levy said after watching the final installment in the long-running franchise.
The Academy failed to recognize Fiennes for Harry Potter, but then again most people fail to recognize him as Voldemort, thanks to the stellar work of makeup artist Mark Coulier. “He made handsome British actor Ralph Fiennes look downright terrifying,” Anna Klassen (former entertainment editor at Bustle) said when she interviewed Coulier in 2016.
“We only had about two hours to do Ralph’s makeup, because of all the filming restrictions … so we had to design it around that,” Coulier recalled. Voldemort’s slit-like nose was created digitally, but Coulier did as much as he could do practically, making eyebrow blockers and temporary vein tattoos for Fiennes. “It worked really well,” the makeup guru recalled. “We covered his whole head in veins in about 10 minutes.”
Nero in Star Trek
Australian actor Eric Bana is probably best known for starring as Bruce Banner in Ang Lee’s botched attempt at bringing the Hulk to the big screen, but he’s been working steadily in Hollywood ever since, often going unnoticed. Bana followed 2003’s Hulk with appearances in the historical epic Troy and Steven Spielberg’s Munich. He also portrayed infamous wife killer King Henry VIII in The Other Boleyn Girl. But Bana’s become a lot less prominent since, and his retreat from the A-list seems to have begun with 2009’s Star Trek.
The actor told The Telegraph that he was “freaking out” when he first saw himself all done up as Nero, but overall it was a worthwhile experience. “It was so much fun,” Bana said. “By the end of the first week it’s very normal.”
Calypso in the Pirates of the Caribbean
British actress Naomie Harris is probably best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in the Daniel Craig era of James Bond movies, but prior to taking on the role of M’s sultry secretary she played the sea goddess Calypso in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Harris made her debut as voodoo mystic Tia Dalma (the name Calypso took after being imprisoned in the body of a woman) in 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest. She reprised the role in 2007’s At World’s End, in which she was released from her human bonds in a spectacular tsunami of crabs.
“It’s hard to see or hear Naomie Harris, the lovely 30-year-old London-born character actress, behind those black teeth, those blue-stained lips, those hundred-year-dreadlocks in Pirates of the Caribbean,” Orlando Sentinel film critic Roger Moore said after seeing At World’s End. When Harris sat down for an interview with Moore in 2007, she described the routine she had to go through before shooting.
“It wasn’t that bad,” she said. “You know, a wig. Black lipstick, black eye shadow, some tribal markings and gold and dirt on the face. The teeth were prosthetic teeth that you just clip in and out. Oh, and I also had to fill my mouth with vegetable dye before each take. Tasty. The idea was that Tia Dalma is kind of oozing ink and evil.”
Bonnie Aarons (The Nun)
Billed as the darkest chapter in the Conjuring universe (which includes the Annabelle franchise and both Conjuring movies), The Nun caused a lot of hype but ultimately failed to impress, scoring a disappointing 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes – the lowest score of any Conjuring universe film to date, but according to actress Taissa Farmiga, the title character was plenty scary. The leading lady revealed that actress Bonnie Aarons would go out of her way to scare her between takes, often sneaking up behind her in the terrifying nun get-up worn by her character, the demon Valak.
Aarons had a blast on set, telling Coma Music Magazine, “Shooting the movie was a whole lot of fun, I love to entertain people and the demon nun has delivered quite a thrill.” Making Aarons (who describes herself as “gregarious, glamorous and gory”) look that scary didn’t take as long as you might imagine. “I am not wearing that much makeup, it was strategically painted on,” she said. “It took about one and a half hours. I wore a whole lot more makeup in the other films I have done.”