When an actor portrays a made-up person, the character’s look can be created from scratch. But if they’re playing someone from real life, things get a bit more complicated. Inevitably, audiences compare actors vs. the historical figures they played.
Convincingly portraying a real-life person often takes more than just a great performance. It also requires having a look that allows the audience to believe they really are watching Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth I, or Captain Sully Sullenberger. Through a combination of the right genetics and the right makeup artists, these performers pulled it off. And many actors who played historical figures received major awards for their meticulous research and hard work.
When you consider what actors look like compared to the characters they played, the results are sometimes surprising. Who knew Robert Downey Jr. would make such a convincing Charlie Chaplin, or that Margot Robbie could effortlessly slip into Tonya Harding’s ice skates? These actors next to the people they played show both the Hollywood magic and raw talent that go into making a great performance.