Acting is a tough job. Sure, there are some seriously sweet perks to being an A-list actor, like making millions of dollars, travelling around the world for leisure and work, going to the hottest parties and clubs, and being worshipped by an incredibly loyal fan base. But of course, no career is perfect, and at the end of the day, acting is in many ways like any other job.
And there are many actors out there that take their jobs very, very seriously. We’ve heard of actors gaining a crazy amount of weight for a role, losing a dangerous amount of weight, or sometimes even temporarily losing their minds. All in the name of acting.
Perhaps less dramatic for their personal well-being, but just as visually shocking when we see our favourite actors on screen, is when actors appear dramatically older. Sometimes this does involve gaining or losing a whole lot of weight, but other times it is wholly attributable to the incredible job done by make-up artists. Some actors are barely recognizable once all the makeup and clothing has been set in place.
Read on for 15 Pictures Of Your Favorite Actors Looking Old AF.
15 Michelle Pfeiffer
It’s hard to imagine Michelle Pfeiffer as anything other than the lovely and beautiful star that she is. Pfeiffer often plays the charming female protagonist in a drama, and has icon status in the superhero world for her unforgettable portrayal of Catwoman.
This is part of the reason that Stardust is such a great watch – we see Michelle Pfeiffer portray the evil witch Lamia. For most of the film, Michelle Pfeiffer is as striking as always. But prior to consuming the heart of a fallen star, we see Pfeiffer portray the real Lamia for the wretched, aged, and ugly witch that she is.
Because Pfeiffer is so very stunning, seeing her in this state is particularly terrifying. Even now, when Pfeiffer has aged a bit in real life, we know that she will never look like this. And thank goodness for that!
14 Kate Winslet
The Reader won Kate Winslet an Academy Award for Best Actress. The film introduced us to the highly immoral and yet deeply sad life of Hanna Schmitz.
Given that Hanna's spent most of her life in prison, in this photo, Kate Winslet is not only meant to appear aged, but also depressed and worn out, too. And, sure enough, the makeup artists did an excellent job – although the grey-white hair certainly helps.
Probably more than anything, though, Winslet appears old thanks to her acting. With her conscience constantly reminding her of her horrible past (being a prison guard at Auschwitz extermination camp, having an affair with a 15-year-old when she was 36), Hanna appears aged more than anything due to the character she so successfully portrayed.
13 Jamie Foxx
Although most people think of Jamie Foxx in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Electro, the crazy and terrifying bright blue glowing form of energy, throwing electric shocks at all who cross his path. Of course, though, there is the non-superhero version of Electro in the films, and his name is Maxwell “Max” Dillon.
Max is an electrical engineer with an obsessive complex and a penchant for causing blackouts. He also happens to have gnarly teeth and a seriously obvious comb-over, as can be perceived in this photo.2
Jamie Foxx is a seriously good looking guy, so to see him in this state is quite the shock! On top of looking pretty darn ugly, he also looks a lot older than how he looks in real life – which is actually young for his age (49)!
12 Marion Cotillard, 'La Vie En Rose'
It’s hard to imagine the stunning French actress Marion Cotillard as anything less than absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, but make-up artists successfully made her look surprisingly elderly for her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose.
Although Edith Piaf died quite young at just 47 years old, her many years of drinking and drug-taking took a serious toll on her health, and this showed in her later years. So, while only 47, in her later life she looked quite a bit older.
Marion Cotillard portrayed this accurately, looking very sickly and well beyond her years. In this scene, where she is lying on a lounge chair outside, you would probably never even believe that it was Cotillard if you didn’t know the cast prior to watching the film.
11 Matthew McConaughey
Given that Matthew McConaughey’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club won him an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, it should come as no surprise that he really dedicated himself to the role. At the Screen Actors Guild Awards back in 2014, he told interviewers that he had lost 47 pounds preparing for the role, and that he would slowly eat tapioca pudding from a tiny spoon almost every day to convince himself he was full.
Fortunately for McConaughey, the technique worked, and he lost a ton of weight. The weight loss definitely made him look a lot older, too, and it’s clear from this photo that weight loss is very closely associated with age gain! Just another example of the crazy lengths actors will go to for their art.
10 Harry Potter Cast
This photo of the Harry Potter characters 19 years after the end of their adventures in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II is particularly shocking to see if we are to consider that the actors, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, are much younger than most other actors on this list.
While the three of them do look much older than they ever looked before, the makeup artists may have gone slightly overboard— on top of looking old, Harry, Hermione, and Ron also look pretty sickly.
Overall though, there was a generally positive response to the "19 Years Later" sequence, despite Daniel Radcliffe actually voicing his concerns regarding how convincing prosthetics and makeup could be. Sure, the characters may have aged pretty badly, but considering the trauma they experienced as teens, they don’t look so bad.
9 Russell Crowe
In this biblical epic film about the legendary Noah who is called upon by God to gather earth’s animals on a boat to ride out a storm lasting 40 days and 40 nights, Russell Crowe portrays the titular character.
Those unaware of this role he played back in 2014 may have thought Crowe had completely let himself go and aged maybe 20-or-so years. Of course, like any good actor out there, he was merely taking on the role of the razor-less Noah, sporting a gnarly beard and a frayed, grey-white head of hair.
Sure, he looks pretty terrible in this photo, but the fact that the giant beard was real makes it a lot more convincing, and surely with the help of a bit of makeup, Crowe looks even older.
8 Julianne Moore
Given that one of Hollywood’s greatest actors, Meryl Streep, stars in this critically-acclaimed film about Virginia Woolf and the lives of those she affected, that’s probably saying enough about the quality of the film. Add the stunning Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore to the mix, and we find ourselves with an all-around excellent, albeit sad, film.
At one point near the end of The Hours, we are re-introduced to an older Julianne Moore generations after the main premise of the film is set. Hardened after years of depression, Moore has aged in a sad way. While the eyes are the same eyes of the Julianne Moore we see and know so well, her hair and wrinkled face is almost unrecognizable.
7 Cate Blanchett
Of course, if there is any film in the world that portrayed old age on young actors in a successful way, it would have to be The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which is a film about that very topic: old age.
Although Brad Pitt obviously comes to mind for this entry too, he is listed below for another film. And this photo of Cate Blanchett surely portrays ageing just as convincingly.
Although her neck is probably a bit too young-looking for the age Blanchett is supposed to be portraying, in general, the detailed makeup techniques are very accurate. The thick glasses that magnify her eyes surely add to the overall effect, as well. Again, the actor is almost unrecognizable thanks to the fine work of makeup artists.
6 Christian Bale
Once you’ve seen Christian Bale in the Batman franchise or in his classic film, American Psycho, it’s difficult to imagine a Christian Bale that is anything other than extremely buff and good looking.
Somehow, though, Christian Bale managed to look absolutely horrendous in David O. Russel’s film, American Hustle, about scam artists in the 1970s.
As the con man Irving Rosenfeld, Bale sports a gnarly comb-over and a big fat belly, both of which add years to his actual age. Certainly the horrendous fashion trends of the 1970s also add age to the image he portrays, too. Then, as he is contrasted next to his much younger lovers Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) and Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence), it makes him look all that much older.
5 Drew Barrymore
It’s so surprising to see Drew Barrymore as such an old lady, especially considering how well she has aged! Then, when she’s set beside Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, not only is it random, but it makes the heavily made-up and prosthetic-wearing Barrymore look even older. If that’s possible.
This photo shows the moment when Dylan Sanders (Barrymore) imagines herself as an old lady, between the two future Charlie’s Angels who are played by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. She is suddenly aware of the fact that she won’t always be an angel.
While the make-up and prosthetics in this case are far more dramatic than most other entries for dramatic comedy purposes, we can still only just recognize Barrymore beneath the disguise of the wrinkled, Golden Girls-style Dylan Sanders.
4 Brad Pitt
12 Years a Slave received a tremendous amount of positive reviews, and among other awards for individual actors, it also received the Oscar for Best Picture in 2014.
Along with being a producer of the film, Brad Pitt also starred as Samuel Bass, the Canadian laborer who sympathizes with an African-American named Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man who lives with his family in New York but is put is forced into slavery and remains enslaved for over 12 years.
As a carpenter, Samuel Bass is tired and worn out by work, although we’re not sure of the exact age he is supposed to be. Either way, Pitt looks quite old in this photo, which we can be sure is helped by both the 1800’s-style beard, along with makeup artists, as always.
3 Robin Wright
If you haven’t seen The Congress, an independent French-Israeli live-action and animation film starring a fictional version of Robin Wright, then prepare for an entertaining foray into the insane and dystopian world of futuristic technology.
Robin Wright hangs between the animated, virtual world and the real world, experiencing endless youth in the virtual world and regular aging in the real one.
Considering that the film focuses on aging, it really is no surprise that makeup artists were so careful in successfully implementing the look for Robin Wright as she ages between moments in the virtual world and the real world.
While The Congress’s Robin Wright is certainly not the stunning Claire Underwood from everyone’s favorite Netflix drama, House of Cards, she still looks pretty darn good considering the crazy circumstances she faces in the film.
2 Billy Crystal And Carol Kane
Who could ever forget the hilarious Miracle Max and his wife Valerie from the cult classic The Princess Bride?!
Billy Crystal and Carol Kane are almost entirely unrecognizable in the photo here, as they portray the crazy couple who can save a human’s life (sort of).
Sure, now, Billy Crystal in particular has aged (Carol Kane meanwhile still looks remarkably young!). But, in the 1980s, he was still a young guy (age 39), which makes the stark contrast we see here in this photo so shocking! Clearly, heavy prosthetics were used to have this effect, as well as a wig and heavy makeup techniques by artists.
The voice transformation into Miracle Max, however, was all natural, good old-fashioned acting by the ever-talented Billy Crystal!
1 Kristen Wiig
Although we normally associate Kristen Wiig with Saturday Night Live or the hilarious blockbuster comedy Bridesmaids, Wiig stars in this slightly more serious film – although it is still a comedy of sorts, of course!
In one scene, the film flashes to an imaginary spoof sequence of the possible future, Benjamin Button style, of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) and Cheryl Molhoff (Wigg). She holds the baby Walter Mitty in her arms, both of them imagining that such a disease/relationship could work.
Of course, she is portrayed as very old in this scene for exaggeration and comedy purposes, but in this case, they’ve actually done a good job of it, too! Although her skin is deeply orange and not really wrinkled so much as it is rough, overall the directors successfully got their message across.
Are there other actors who've aged significantly for roles? Share them in the comments!