Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

The most dramatic transformations on TV, from inmates to aliens

Shaun Harrison
1 of 15 Netflix; Splash


Visually arresting transformations aren't reserved just for movie magic. Take a look at these good-looking actors who are virtually unrecogniable after a trip to the costuming, hair, makeup and prosthetics departments. Naomi Grossman, American Horror Story A shaved head, buck teeth and fake nose and ears transform the petite and lovely Naomi Grossman into Pepper, the microcephalic Briarcliff patient who was first seen on FX's 1964-set American Horror Story: Asylum and who will return for Freak Show, which rewinds the clock 12 years.
2 of 15 Netflix; Splash

Taryn Manning, Orange Is the New Black

To play angry Litchfield inmate Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Dogget, this blonde California girl got a significant makeunder complete with bad teeth and dark hair that washes out her fair complexion.
3 of 15 Syfy; Corbis

Noah Danby Defiance

The 6-foot-3 actor uses his already chiseled bone structure to good effect as the bronze-skinned alien Irath known as Sukar, who also sports eerie yellow eyes, exaggerated brows and cheekbones, a scar bisecting his face and a jaunty hat.
4 of 15 Helen Sloan/HBO; Corbis

Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones

This tall drink of water downplays her femininity to portray the towering female knight Brienne of Tarth on the HBO series. Gone are the glam red carpet gowns and red lipstick, making way for shapeless tunics and armor, ratty hair and a perpetual scowl.
5 of 15 Joe Pugliese/Syfy; Splash

Stephanie Leonidas, Defiance

The English actress hides behind the visage of her Irathient alien alter ego Irisa, whose bronze skin and shock of red (and we don't mean ginger) hair render her dark good looks completely unrecognizable.
6 of 15 BBC America; Neve McIntosh

Neve McIntosh, Doctor Who

McIntosh's bright blue eyes and rather wicked smile are the only evidence of her humanity to peek through the green scales and prominent head ridges of the ancient race of reptilian humanoids known as the Silurians. Madame Vastra is a Silurian detective who's set up shop with her wife Jenny and who must wear a veil the majority of the time she walks around Victorian England.
7 of 15 FXX; Keli Squires Taylor

Thesy Surface, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

The blue-eyed Surface didn't think she'd get the part of Margaret, the sister in the incestuous and acne-prone McPoyle family, because she thought she was "too attractive." Never underestimate the power of ugly makeup and a painstakingly constructed unibrow! The London-raised actress must also hide her English accent because her character is supposed to be mute (and by most accounts also deaf).
8 of 15 Netflix; Corbis

Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black

What a difference a hairstyle and prison khakis make! Aduba is an acclaimed Broadway actress who had a hand in transforming herself for the Netflix prison dramedy. She auditioned wearing her hair in multiple hair knots — and although she didn't win the part she initially went out for, her look and performance were eye-catching enough to be offered the part of Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren, one of the series' most beloved characters.
9 of 15 Kobal Collection; Andy Hallet

Andy Hallet, Angel

The late actor and singer discovered his love of performance when he sang with Patti Labelle on stage in Boston, prompting the musical legend to declare, "This is a white boy with soul." That soul was parlayed into the karoke-loving Deathwok demon Lorne, whose dual horns, red eyes and green skin required nearly three hours in the makeup chair.
10 of 15 Sci-Fi/Kobal Collection; Anthony Simcoe

Anthony Simcoe, Farscape

Simcoe is an Australian actor and corporate trainer who took on the guise of Ka D'Argo, one of the bellicose Luxans who have heavy brow ridges, plate-covered noses, pointy chins, prehensile tongues and eight tentacles hanging down from the back of their heads.
11 of 15 James Dittiger/TNT; Corbis

Doug Jones, Falling Skies

Having appeared in Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth among others, Jones is an old hand at donning heavy prosthetics as part of his metamorphosis and brings those skills to the small screen, first as Cochise on Falling Skies. The Volm alien is generally humanoid but only has three fingers and a thumb, wide-set eyes, nostrils within nostrils (much like a bat), no discernible hair and tiny holes for ears. The redhead can also be seen as The Strain's "Ancient," which apparently requires him to also lose his nose here.
12 of 15 HBO; Corbis

Natalia Tena, Game of Thrones

The London actress of Spanish ancestry generally has a rock 'n' roll edge to her — see her colorful tresses as Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter film series — and even plays in a band. But some fans may have to do a double take when faced with her decidedly disheveled Game of Thrones character Osha, one of the wildlings whose look includes what appears to be an assortment of drab grey rags and an unruly head of hair that even birds would refuse to nest in.
13 of 15 UPN; James Charles Leary

James Charles Leary, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The American actor camouflaged his good looks behind massive folds of latex to play Clem, a so-called Loose-Skinned demon who had a taste for kittens but gave up the habit due to health and moral reasons.
14 of 15 Syfy; Jessica Nichols

Jessica Nichols, Defiance

Talk about your double duty! The petite Canadian actress plays the two featured Liberata aliens on the Syfy series. The race is short and stocky, with broad shoulders, thick necks and wild tufts of hair on their heads and chins — both male and female alike — which makes it hard for humans to tell the two genders apart. As Bertie, Nichols dons a dress and apron to play a maid and cook for the McCawley family, while playing Jered, a barman at the NeedWant, she sports wire-framed spectacles.
15 of 15 CBS/Landov; Splash

Ron Perlman, Beauty and the Beast

Perlman is no stranger to completely disappearing under layers of makeup and prosthetics, but he had his first breakthrough role as Vincent, the half-man, half-lion creature on CBS' 1987 crime procedural take on the classic tale. Only the actor's voice remained after spending four hours in the makeup chair where the fanged teeth, flat nose, cleft upper-lip, individual hairs and claw-like nails were painstakingly applied. The whole look was devised by legendary special makeup effects artist Rick Baker.