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There’s something magical about the movies, from the elaborate productions to the vivid performances from our favorite actors. And while all acting is about transforming yourself into someone else, it’s always especially eerie to see an actor you love transform themselves into someone else you know — like Ana de Armas’ spooky resemblance to Marilyn Monroe in upcoming film Blonde. That’s a trend we’re about to see a lot more of — and we want to celebrate all the amazing ways actresses have transformed themselves into pitch-perfect copies of other famous figures in the past.
Biopics have been coming out left and right over the past year, from this fall’s Respect featuring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin to the long-awaited Princess Diana biopic Spencer starring Kristen Stewart — and that’s on top of Jessica Chastain-led The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis-led King Richard (about Venus and Serena Williams’ father), Lady Gaga and Adam Driver-led House of Gucci about the Gucci family, Lily James’ upcoming Pam & Tommy series as Pamela Anderson, and Aaaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos, featuring Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as titular couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
Right now, transforming yourself into a famous figure from the past has never been hotter — and we’re looking at some of our favorite actresses’ movie and TV transformations of all time to really celebrate this art. Whether it be spending months studying everything about the person they plan to portray or dealing with pounds of stage makeup every day for the better part of a year, these actresses commit like no other.
From new actresses portraying Old-Hollywood titans to A-listers taking on historical figures, there’s no shortage of incredible transformations: See side-by-side photos of actresses looking exactly like their characters below.
A version of this article was previously published in December 2021.