— Anne Hathaway spends the first hour of this week’s romantic drama “One Day” with barely controlled hair frizz, awkward-looking “smart person” glasses, no-sun-allowed makeup and sad fashion choices before finally becoming the luminously beautiful Anne Hathaway you already know. It’s how the movie tries to trick you into thinking she’s a Plain Jane.
This sort of thing happens with a strange degree of frequency, and the more extreme the actress’s transformation the more likely the movie is to strive for significance and awards.
Charlize Theron in 'Monster'
The statuesque South African gained 30 pounds, sported unwashed hair and wore a set of gnarled prosthetic teeth to play real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was terrified enough to give her an Oscar.
Mo’Nique in 'Precious'
The curvy comedian squeezed herself into bizarre spandex aerobics gear, dirty jeans and head wraps, and went without makeup to play the mentally ill, brutally abusive mother to Gabourey Sidibe’s title character. She won the Academy Award for best supporting actress.
Mariah Carey in 'Precious'
Music superstar Carey left behind the “Glitter” jokes and turned her physical self inside out until she was barely recognizable. Baggy gray clothes, a moplike wig, dark under-eye makeup and the weirdest hint of a mustache shocked audiences, but the real surprise was her powerful supporting performance.
Toni Collette in 'Muriel’s Wedding,' Minnie Driver in 'Circle of Friends,' Renee Zellweger in 'Bridget Jones’s Diary'
Three women, three comedies, three intentional weight gains between 25 and 40 pounds each. In other words, it made them look like normal people, aka “Hollywood Fat.” Zellweger’s role garnered her an Academy Award nomination, but she recently announced she would not gain weight for the upcoming third Bridget Jones movie.
Ginnifer Goodwin in 'Something Borrowed'
New on DVD this week, the comedy traffics in glasses-equals-ugly “She’s All That” territory and assumes that simply putting the “Big Love” actress in boring outfits, nerdy specs and shapeless wigs will convince you that her responsible lawyer character has a good reason to have no self-esteem.
Nicole Kidman in 'The Hours'
To play real-life literary figure Virginia Woolf, Kidman wore a prosthetic nose and dark brown hair. Not much change by some measures, but the effect was one of transformation, allowing Kidman to get lost in Woolf’s sudden presence, and win the best actress Oscar that year.
Anne Hathaway in 'The Princess Diaries
If her character in “One Day” feels familiar, it’s because she already did this very thing in her breakthrough role, as a curly haired, glasses-wearing girl who learns she’s a princess.