Do you find that you can’t recognize certain performers from film to film because they can alter their appearance or mannerisms so dramatically? The following is a list of five actors who are consummate shape shifters.
From her flawless German in Sophie’s Choice to her perfect Lady Thatcher accent in The Iron Lady, Meryl Streep is the quintessential chameleon. A change in hair color, hairstyle, clothes, weight, and subtle body movements makes Streep the perfect shape shifter. Her ability with accents and languages are nothing short of a complete metamorphosis. Streep has been nominated so many times for an Oscar because she is just that gifted. Now in her 60s, the American actress is still the greatest leading lady of any generation.
His French, German, and Spanish was flawless in X-Men: First Class and his looks change so dramatically its hard to recognize him from film to film. As a dirty blond he was Connor the cad in Fish Tank, as a dark brunette he was tortured Magneto in X-Men: First Class, and as his natural ginger he was broody Esme in Angel. He is so convincing that he lost half his weight in Hunger and then bulked up two years later for Centurion. Fassbender is a male version of Meryl Streep for his ability to act even with just body language. His next incarnation as the iconic Dr. Carl Jung and as a sex addict named Brandon shows no hint of the Stelios in 300 or Mr. Rochester in the 2011 version of Jane Eyre.
From his early role in My Beautiful Laundrette to the disabled poet in My Life Foot and later the innocent prisoner in In The Name of The Father, Daniel Day-Lewis keeps surprising audiences. He won his last Oscar in 2009 for There Will Be Blood and looked genuinely surprised when giving his acceptance speech. Day-Lewis doesn’t alter his physical appearance as much as Streep and Fassbender but his talent lies in embodying a character so deeply you forget his other roles when watching him. Daniel Day-Lewis masters accents and mannerisms whether he is playing a Brit or an American. One of the finest the UK has ever produced.
Gary Oldman didn’t just change forms in Harry Potter movies, he has been doing so ever since he began acting. His 1986 performance as rocker Sid Vicious was so compelling because Oldman lost massive amounts of weight to play a heroin addict. In his 1992 take on Dracula, Oldman made Bram Stoker’s character come alive in his own way. His mastery of international accents and deeply moving portrayals inspired Michael Fassbender and many others in their own craft.
Tilda Swinton is another actress who can morph to another person with a change in hair color, hair style, voice, and mannerisms. From her gender bending performance as a man and woman in Orlando to the manipulative lawyer in Michael Clayton, Swinton commands the screen in an intense but subtle way. Her ability to look androgynous is her most striking trait as an actress.