If we lined up masked actors, do you think you would be able to figure out who they are behind the masks? We really doubt it. After all, innovations in the fields of prosthesis, makeup, and special effects have seen amazing developments over the years. It is truly amazing how much they have changed the game when it comes to the entertainment industry. Mind you, we are not only talking about DC or Marvel characters either!
In this list, you are going to find the best disguises that range from Yondu of Marvel to the six layers of makeup that brought Chewbacca to life to the Night King in Game of Thrones. You might be surprised to see just how different actors and actresses look like when the mask is off! Perhaps you are not even aware that these famous celebrities played these characters. This is how drastic some of the changes were. Are you ready to be impressed by Hollywood magic?
Nebula — Karen Gillan
The gorgeous auburn locks of Karen Gillan is one of her trademarks. Despite this, the actress agreed to shave it off to play Nebula, Thanos’ daughter. Apparently, they had to spend four hours putting on her makeup! When it is time to get rid of it, the crew needs half an hour to get it all off.
Thanos — Josh Brolin
In 2012, Damion Poitier got to play Thanos in The Avengers. However, Josh Brolin went on to replace the stuntman in the four movies that have since come out. If you were impressed by how realistic the character looked, you should know that they used computer technology to bring him to life. How awesome is this?
Kaecilius — Mads Mikkelsen
In 2016, Mads Mikkelsen was enjoying the peak of his career. Not only did the Danish actor star in a TV show called Hannibal, but he also appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Doctor Strange. He played Kaecilius in the latter. The actor had to spend hours in the makeup chair as the artists worked on making this gray and purple mask effect. All that effort was definitely worth it!
Ronan the Accuser — Lee Pace
Did you know that Lee Pace portrayed Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy? Don’t worry if you did not recognize him. After all, he is barely recognizable when he has the purple contacts on.
Martinex — Michael Rosenbaum
Michael Rosenbaum played Ravager in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The tech team on the set had to rely on special effects to show us those facial expressions. How awesome does this look?
Johann Schmidt, Red Skull — Hugo Weaving, Ross Marquand
You might know that Johann Schmidt played Agent Smith in The Matrix, but you might not be aware that he also brought Red Skull to life in Captain America: The First Avenger. On the other hand, Ross Marquand played Red Skull in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Apparently, the masks they used took three hours to make!
Queen Elizabeth I — Margot Robbie
In order to play Queen Elizabeth I in Mary Queen of Scots, actress Margot Robbie needed a lot of makeup. Aside from that, she also had to don plucked eyebrows, a wig, and a corset!
Voldemort — Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes is a person that many people hate because he portrayed Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter. This is a testament to how talented he is! He had to sit and be made up for two hours. Don’t worry, the nose was removed digitally. Even though the makeup process is shorter than others on the list, he once told Vanity Fair that he would ditch the movies if it did not get any shorter.
Gamora — Zoe Saldana
This might look simpler than the others because Zoe Saldana only had simple makeup caked all over her body. However, the process took the team five hours! They did not use computer tech for this one.
Drax the Destroyer — Dave Bautista
Dave Bautista was not only a wrestler but also an actor, MMA fighter, and bodybuilder. When he played Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy, they had to paint his body with an airbrush and put red scars using silicone. It goes without saying that this took them a long time!
Mantis — Pom Klementieff
We first met Pom Klementieff in the role of Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The mask came with a small prosthesis, which was animated with the help of computer tech. Since the character had black eyes, the French actress had to sport black contacts as well.
Ayesha — Elizabeth Debicki
Elizabeth Debicki brought Ayesha to life in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Before she could play Ayesha, she was covered in golden paint. On top of this, she had to wear golden contacts too.
Deadpool — Ryan Reynolds
“‘When I’m in the scar makeup, that’s hard for my kids because they were on set a lot. I leave the house in the morning and I’d be ‘Dad’ and then by lunch it looked like I fell asleep on a stove,” Ryan Reynolds said in reference to the Wade Wilson face. It took the team four hours to whip it up! To avoid scaring children, let us just show you the charming version of Deadpool.
Juggernaut — Ryan Reynolds
In case you were not aware, Ryan Reynolds did not only play Wade Wilson in Deadpool but Juggernaut as well! Even though the character was brought to life using CGI, the actor had to wear a mocap gear to capture facial expressions. On top of that, he also served as the voice actor.
Dormammu — Benedict Cumberbatch
Isn’t it interesting that Deadpool pretty much faced himself while battling Juggernaut? The truth is that this also happened to Doctor Strange! Benedict Cumberbatch also lent his voice and facial expressions to Dormammu. It turns out that it was his idea. He explained, “I went, ‘Look, if this is going to work, rather than being a big ghoulish monster, if it’s some kind of reflection of him — if it’s something that he’s giving that’s coming back at him in a really horrific way, that would be fun! … a lot of the animation is sort of like a mirror reflection, a rippled mirror reflection, of him, of Strange.”
Taserface — Chris Sullivan
Chris Sullivan brought Taserface to life in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He did not just don purple makeup but also put on contact lenses to make his eyes brighter. The silver teeth are fake too!
Yondu Udonta — Michael Rooker
Michael Rooker is best known for The Walking Dead but let us not forget he also played Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy. He had to wait six hours for the team to apply layer after layer of makeup on his face. With his red contacts and fake teeth, he is the ideal Zatoan tribesman.
Proxima Midnight — Carrie Coon
Proxima Midnight was portrayed by none other than Carrie Coon. During an interview, she jokingly said, “To be fair, my face is in there somewhere.” The actress also did the voice-over and motion capture work. The mask, blue hair, grey screen, and horns were all added through CGI.
Korg — Taika Waititi
In Thor: Ragnarok, gladiator Korg was played by the actor, screenwriter, and comedian Taika Waititi. He also played as Hulk in some scenes and his characters were created using CGI.
Hellboy — Ron Perlman
Actor Ron Perlman was the first one to play the demon superman. In 2004, he played the superhero in Hellboy. According to a makeup artist called Jake Gerber, he would sit in the makeup chair for hours as they added prosthetics to his chest and face. They had to do it nearly a hundred times!
Hellboy — David Harbour
In the reboot of Hellboy, the titular character was played by David Harbour. He underwent the same process with all the red makeup and the face prosthetics. However, we have to admit that we are also impressed by those muscles. All the credit for that one goes to the actor!
Ultron — James Spader
James Spader played the main villain in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The actor had to do the face and movement capture for Ultron. When it comes to everything else, they had to use CGI effects!
Vision — Paul Bettany
Did you know that Paul Bettany was in Avengers before he played Vision? He lent his voice to JARVIS in Iron Man before that! This makeup might not look difficult, but it took the team more than three hours to apply the silicone prosthesis and the red mask. They also used video effects to tie it all together.
Corvus Glaive — Michael James Shaw
Michael James Shaw portrayed Corvus Glaive in two Avenger installments. The character was made by computer tech experts. It is actually quite similar to the process they used to create Ultron.
Talos — Ben Mendelsohn
If you watched Captain Marvel, you saw Ben Mendelsohn turn into an alien. He portrayed Talos, who was the commander of an alien race. He wore fake ears, silicone prosthesis, and contacts.
Korath the Pursuer — Djimon Hounsou
Djimon Hounsou played none other than Korath the Pursuer in Guardians of the Galaxy. The actor had to put on armor, light blue contacts, and prosthetics on his head for this role!
En Sabah Nur — Oscar Isaac
Do you remember the lead villain En Sabah Nur in X-Men: Apocalypse? He was brought to life by none other than Oscar Isaac. If he seemed huge in the movie, this is all thanks to the thick platform boots and the 40-pound suit that he wore. He also had to don blue makeup and prosthetics!
Mystique — Rebecca Romijn
Before Mystique was played by Jennifer Lawrence, Rebecca Romijn came first. She was the one to play blue mutant with the red hair and yellow eyes in the first three films of the X-Men series.
Electro — Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx is an Academy Award-winning actor who wore blue makeup and veiny prosthetics that they then enhanced using digital effects. How did the makeup make him feel when he appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man 2? He said, “Once I got into that blue, even my voice changed. You have no idea what it feels like because his vocal cords had been burned. I would just look in the mirror for hours, just looking at the blue contacts and everything and then finally honing in [and] found him.”
Malekith The Accursed — Christopher Eccleston
If you ask us, Christopher Eccleston felt and looked like a true villain when he appeared in Thor: The Dark World. He did his homework and looked up how the make the character even scarier! It was the first time he had elaborate makeup and liked it even though it took them six hours per session.
The Abomination — Tim Roth
Tim Roth played the Abomination, the most infamous enemy of the Hulk. When he did an AMA thread on Reddit, the actor was asked if he will return for another Marvel movie. He said, “I don’t think Marvel will ever use me again, but it would be fun.” He was the voice and motion capture actor for this role!
The Night King — Richard Brake
The terrifying Night King was first brought to life by Richard Blake in the fourth and fifth seasons of Game of Thrones. However, a stunt actor called Vladimir Furdik took over for seasons six to eight. Apparently, the artists took weeks to make the prosthetics and then hours to put it on him.
Hela — Cate Blanchett
We have to admit that Thor: Ragnarok was not the best movie out there. Even so, the Goddess of Death was something to behold! Cate Blanchett looked great strolling in to take the throne.
The Mad Hatter — Johnny Depp
It is not a reach to say that Johnny Depp is a mater of disguise. After all, we have seen what he looked like in Dark Shadows, Edward Scissorhands, Black Mass, and more. He also starred in Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass in the role of the Mad Hatter. The makeup, combined with the gap teeth and curly red hair, showed us a new side to our favorite actor.
Kurse — Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Kurse was a monster who appeared in Thor: The Dark World. This character was played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. His body and face were concealed by this bony headpiece and spiky bodice.
The Other — Alexis Denisof
Alexis Denisof brought the Other to life. The character is a servant of Thanos and was in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers. For these projects, he had to put on layers of face paint to bring the character to life. The actor also had to put on a hooded cloak and a face mask for the role!
Azazel — Jason Flemyng
We bet that you remember Azazel, the devil mutant in X-Men: First Class. Jason Flemyng had to sit still for hours to achieve this look. Once, the actor was asked about the fact that he was not cast in the sequel. It was a given that he would be disappointed, but there was a silver lining. He said, “Initially I was gutted, but then, I remembered I had to get up at two in the morning, I had to be painted red and be slightly out of focus and posed a lot, and that was sort of it. Now I don’t have to do that.”
Ebony Maw — Tom Vaughan-Lawlor
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor was the actor who played Ebony Maw of Black Order. He had to put on prosthetics to play the character! Who would have known that he has a real nose behind those wrinkles? The actor said that his son found the whole thing funny because he was “so ugly” in the movie.
Pennywise — Bill Skarsgård
If you are scared of clowns, you should probably avoid watching It. Based on the Stephen King book, the 2017 film adaptation saw Bill Skarsgård transform into a clown called Pennywise!
Joker — Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix had to undergo a complete transformation to play the Joker in the 2019 film of the same name. The actor had to shed 52 pounds and shave his beard. The makeup was less elaborate than some of the entries on our list, but it truly brought out the edge and madness of the character!
Joker — Heath Ledger
A lot of actors have portrayed this villain on film. Aside from Joaquin Phoenix and Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger also had the chance to play the “ragged clown.” He did such a good job that he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor after his death. His performance received praise from both viewers and critics.
Boba Fett — Jeremy Bulloch
Jeremy Bulloch is an English actor who got the honor to wear the bounty hunter’s helmet. Now you see what he looked like behind the mask! A younger version of the character was played by Daniel Logan.
Chewbacca — Peter Mayhew
We daresay that no one else could have played Peter Mayhew. After all, it must be hard to find an actor who stands at 7’3.” It was not only the costume that made the character either. Mayhew perfected the body language of Chewy that when he fell ill during a shoot, the stand-in actor simply failed to get it right. Lucas did not use the footage they filmed with the stand-in. They simply waited until Mayhew felt better enough to return to the set.
Darth Maul — Ray Park
Ray Park was the star who played Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. They had to put on a lot of makeup for this mask! His lines, however, were voiced by Peter Serafinowicz.
Wicket W. Warrick — Warwick Davis
Warwick Davis landed his first big part as an Ewok. At the time, he was 17 years old and stood at 2’11.” He was a big fan of Star Wars when his grandma took him to audition for the role of Wicket. Later, he had to be like a parent to the baby. He said, “I had to learn parenting skills, which taught me how to hold a baby correctly, how to feed a baby, and worst of all, how to change a nappy, or diaper.”
Freddy Krueger — Robert Englund
Did you know that Robert Englund tried out for Han Solo? However, he did get the part since the producers wanted someone younger than him. The rumor goes that he pushed Mark Hamill, the teenager crashing on his couch, to audition for Star Wars. Even though Englund did not appear in Star Wars, we can’t deny that he did a great job at playing Freddy Krueger!
The Faun — Doug Jones
We can’t wrap our heads around the fact that Doug Jones is so talented yet not a lot of folks know him. This contortionist was the best choice to play various spooky characters in sci-fi and fantasy projects. For one thing, he killed it as Faun in Pan’s Labyrinth. Aside from that, he also appeared in Hellboy, Falling Skies, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. If you did not recognize him right away, it is because he puts on a lot of fur, makeup and prosthetics for his roles!
Ari — Helena Bonham Carter
Tim Burton remade Planet of the Apes in 2000. As usual, Helena Bonham Carter was in the cast! When she played Ari, it took about four to five hours before she was ready to play the chimpanzee. It was a “cumbersome and crippling” process but taught her how to express emotion with her voice!
Diva Plavalaguna — Maïwenn Le Besco
Do you remember Diva Plavalaguna from The Fifth Element? She was portrayed by none other than Maïwenn Le Besco. Like many other celebrities on our list, she was pretty unrecognizable!
The Alien — Bolaji Badejo
Behind the creepy Alien costume was a Nigerian student! It turned out that Ridley Scott wanted a tall and lanky person to put on the suit. This was how Bolaji Badejo came to play this terrifying creature. He was a thin guy who stood at 7’2.” Sadly, he did not appear in any other movie after this project.
The Violator — John Leguizamo
John Leguizamo is best known for voicing Sid in Ice Age. However, it is a disservice to forget that he also appeared in Spawn as the evil clown. They paid him two million bucks for the role. If we were getting paid that much, we would not mind spending a long time in the makeup chair either. We are willing to sit down for hours if we can even get a fraction of that amount.