7 Movies That Secretly Hid Big Actors Under Special Effects

Like supermarket foods with their fancy-schmancy omega-3 acids, most movies are all too eager to advertise that they star A-list actors. That’s why it’s surprising when some movies go out of their way to eclipse their star power using elaborate disguises, kind of like all those disgruntled old men on Scooby-Doo who masqueraded as werewolves and banshees because they fell behind on their mortgages. We’re talking about actors like …

7

That Blobfish Man In The Force Awakens Was Actually Simon Pegg

One of the original Star Wars trilogy staples J.J. Abrams presumably wanted to revisit for Episode VII was having a bulbous alien who’s a total d-bag to citizens of a desert planet. How else can you explain Unkar Plutt, the junk dealer who resembles a SpongeBob SquarePants character who sold his soul for a truckload of meth?

But how was this character made? Was he CGI? A failed attempt by the Henson Company to make an Alex Jones puppet? Nope, it was mostly just a dude in a costume — and not just any dude, but famed actor and all-around nerd Simon Pegg (best known for Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, and, oh yeah, Star Trek).

Adding to the “who the hell is that”-ness of the whole thing, Pegg’s flabby prosthetic face was augmented by digital effects to make the character “as gross as possible,” thankfully stopping short of adding puke stains to his overalls and making Axl Rose his roommate. Pegg’s voice has also been altered in the movie, changing the pitch of his lilting British accent to a low, cranky growl — less Shaun Of The Dead, more Buffalo Bill from Silence Of The Lambs. And while we’re on the topic …

6

Gary Oldman Suffered Six Hours Of Makeup For An Uncredited Role

Gary Oldman is one of the world’s most chameleonic actors. But here’s one role, where he was particularly unrecognizable — in Hannibal, that movie where a bunch of stuff happens that no remembers because it ends with Ray Liotta eating his own goddamn brain. Oldman played one of Hannibal Lecter’s victims who was left alive, but only just barely. He basically looks like the Elephant Man watched the tape from The Ring.

That face (or lack thereof) wasn’t the only reason few realized that’s Oldman under there — the actor went uncredited on the original theatrical release of the movie. According to Oldman, they just wanted to have “a bit of fun” with the fact that the character is faceless. But producer Martha De Laurentiis claimed otherwise — Oldman wanted prominent billing, but he was playing a rich pedophile who looks like a haunted butthole in a movie starring Hannibal Lecter incidentally called Hannibal.

Ultimately, Oldman just asked to go unbilled, despite the fact that he had to sit through six goddamn hours of makeup just to start work every day. Unfortunately, the producers had already announced he was in the movie, leading to a “pissed off” Oldman and a weird situation where everyone knew who was in the role, but no one would confirm it.

5

Behold, Keanu Reeves As “Ortiz The Dog Boy”

You may not have heard of Freaked, the ultra-zany 1993 comedy film about a gang of mutants who rebel against an evil freak show owner. If by chance you doubt its zaniness, we present Exhibit A: Mr. T plays a bearded lady.

One of the characters we’re introduced to is “Ortiz The Dog Boy.” You probably won’t recognize him due to heavy makeup and the fact that all his lines aren’t simply “Whoa,” but that’s Keanu Reeves in this silly costume:

You see, Freaked was directed by Alex Winter, best known for playing Bill in Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure. So of course, Winter was able to convince his time-travelling pal to appear as wolfman. That’s why the world bore witness to the star of The Matrix chasing after a squirrel while in turn being chased by giant eyeballs with machine guns.

Even though Reeves’ role was ultimately uncredited, his appearance actually helped get the movie made. Why? Because when Alex Winter told the studio that he and Reeves would both be in Freaked, they figured it would be a Bill and Ted reunion, to which Winter responded: “Yeah, kinda.” Meaning that some poor dumb-dumb funded the film thinking they were going to get the next Bill And Ted, and instead got 80 minutes of insanity that climaxed with a giant monster kicking Randy Quaid in the balls.

4

Guy Pearce Wore Old Man Makeup In Prometheus For No Damn Reason

The Alien prequel Prometheus sure raised a lot of big questions about life, the universe, and the need to run IQ tests before manning space missions. However, the most puzzling aspect of the film was: why did Peter Weyland, the billionaire stowaway, look like future Biff Tannen?

Nope, that’s not an actual an old man, nor is it a small child dressed as an old man for Halloween. That’s acclaimed Memento and Hurt Locker actor Guy Pearce playing a way older person — and since the character never encountered an age-reversal ray, the Holy Grail, or a high-class plastic surgeon, why cast Pearce? Did Ridley Scott not want old-people smell on his set? Sure, Pearce does show up as his younger self in a fake TED Talk as part of the movie’s viral marketing, but look at all the freaking trouble they went through:

The truth is that there was supposed to be a sort of dream sequence where Pearce appears as his actual age, but it was never even filmed. According to Pearce: “I guess in the end, they could have cast an older actor.” And sadly for him, most people didn’t acknowledge his work, instead wondering why one of the characters looked like a human-shaped ice cream cake in the hot sun. At least Pearce is confirmed to reprise Weyland in the new Alien movie, hopefully as a talking baby this time.

3

So Many Rock Stars Played Aliens And Zombies

The Star Trek universe is obviously filled with a wide assortment of lifeforms … most of which closely resemble humans with stuff glued to their noses and ears. So, the classic sci-fi series has been a natural fit for rock stars who wanted to make incognito cameos without tainting their cool public image with the unbridled nerdery of Trek.

Take Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine — Morello is such a Trekkie, he asked for a cameo in the movie Star Trek: Insurrection as one of the Son’a aliens — AKA the bad guys whose faces looked like a grocery bag-wrapped testicle.

StereoGum

CBS Television Distribution
Why does he look like a medieval knight who drank from the wrong chalice, though?

Morello later outed himself as a nerd in a more public way when he played an Enterprise officer in an awkward scene in Star Trek: Voyager. It’s mostly just him telling another character to “go left” (so at least the scene was politically consistent with the band’s lyrics).

Meanwhile, rock legend Iggy Pop shows up in an episode of Deep Space Nine as a Vorta alien. While Pop’s disguise wasn’t as elaborate as Morello’s, it worked great because his face already looks like something a Star Trek makeup artist would come up with.

CBS Television Distribution
We’re just impressed that they got him to put on a shirt.

Before that, Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac (if you don’t know who that is, go thumb through your parents’ record collection) showed up in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Who did he play? A Klingon? A Romulan? Nope, he was an Antedian, one of the disgusting fish-men who, shockingly, were only in the one episode.

Amazingly, Fleetwood was such a fan, he agreed to shave his beard off in order to fit the ridiculous prosthetics. And not only was Fleetwood unrecognizable, but he didn’t even get to do much. His character spends most of the episode in cryo-sleep and then eats sludge out of a barrel. But hey, an opportunity is an opportunity.

Similarly, zombies are also great for camouflaging celebrity cameos (and making shows about boring people magically interesting). A few people of note have likely slipped past your notice as reanimated corpses — such as Scott Ian from the band Anthrax, who appeared on an episode of The Walking Dead. You may have seen him as the walker with the giant Jay Leno chin, which was necessary to cover up Ian’s ridiculous goatee.

Meanwhile, Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright recruited a barely disguised Chris Martin to play a shambling corpse in Shaun Of The Dead. And here you probably thought Coldplay wasn’t “edgy” enough feast upon the blood of the innocent.

2

There Was An Entire Movie About Disguising Famous People In Dumbass Costumes

Back before Hollywood figured out that plain old gratuitous sex and violence were enough to get people to see movies, filmmakers tried out a lot of wacky gimmicks to court audiences; from Smell-O-Vision, to vibrating seats, to “let’s slap crazy makeup on actors to make them unrecognizable and that’s the whole damn movie.” The latter premise came to fruition with The List Of Adrian Messenger, a film that bragged about all of its stars, then dares the audience to “guess the disguised roles they play!”

Throughout the movie, we’re introduced to an array of wacky characters who were actually A-list stars slathered in prosthetics. Then, during the end credits, they all revealed their true identities. For example, that filthy transient? It’s fucking Frank Sinatra!

And that rugged-looking lady? It’s legendary leading-man Burt Lancaster!

And while his costume wasn’t as elaborate, Kirk “Spartacus” Douglas was rendered completely unrecognizable simply by covering up his glorious chin hole:

1

You Definitely Saw Glenn Close As A Pirate In Hook

Glenn Close played a male pirate in Hook — if you already know this, we’re guessing it’s because you enjoy reading movie trivia, and not because you heard a theater full of children exclaim “Hey, that’s that star of Fatal Attraction!” Close is pretty damn unrecognizable as the pirate who gets thrown in the scorpion-filled “boo box” by Dustin Hoffman’s Captain Hook (who we’re obligated to remind you was lovers with Bob Hoskins’ Smee).

According to Close, she was just visiting the set with her daughter because they were friends with Robin Williams. Then out of nowhere, Steven Spielberg approached her and asked: “Do you want to be a pirate?” There’s only one correct answer to that question. The transformation was so convincing even the script supervisor thought she was a dude.

In stark contrast to randomly soliciting Academy Award-nominated actresses, the rest of the pirates were recruited from local biker bars (fake beards don’t grow on trees, you know). The pirate-bikers grew resentful of the set’s Hollywood hierarchy, getting only pretzels and water to snack on, which — not to besmirch a cherished children’s classic — sounds like the opening scenes of a way better movie.

JM is now on Twitter, and co-hosts the podcast Rewatchability.

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