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The Most Incredible Movie Makeup Transformations On Netflix

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

There are a lot of different types of movie magic. Computer-generated imagery can turn a simple green screen into a transportive landscape. Tight choreography and precise stunt coordination can elevate the intensity of a fight sequence to the next level. Smart sound editing can set the right tone and pacing for key scenes, and creative scripting, direction, cinematography, and editing are all crucial to crafting a strong screen story. However, one of the most essential elements of filmmaking can be movie makeup, which helps to transform an actor's appearance to fit the time, place, and characteristics of their role.

In fact, solid movie makeup can make all the difference in bringing a new world to life, and it can even help to elevate an actor's performance by getting them into the character's look and feel for their scenes. So to celebrate the vital art of movie makeup, here's a look at some of the most incredible makeup transformations we've seen so far in Netflix films.

Army of the Dead

The makeup team on Zack Snyder's "Army of the Dead" certainly had their work cut out for them when it came to creating so many memorable zombies. Not only were there hundreds of traditional undead walkers shown roaming around Las Vegas, but there were also distinct tiers of zombies, including the alphas, which had drastically different looks to match their enhanced skill sets.

For the 150 alphas that can be seen flanking Zeus and the Queen, it took a crew of almost three dozen makeup artists more than six hours to get the cast ready for those terrifying shots of the kingdom. And that was after the makeup artists meticulously crafted the uniquely translucent look of the alpha flesh alongside the director. With sculpted prosthetics, airbrushing and paint, colored contacts, and some nasty fake teeth, the team managed to make all of the actors look like truly menacing monsters. Achieving the look was essential to bringing some life (pun!) to the toothy brood of alphas and ensured that they would all stand out from the swarms of shamblers.

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese's mafia epic "The Irishman" covers the entire criminal history of hit man Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), from his earliest days stealing from meat trucks to his final years spent contemplating all those "painted houses." So bringing five decades of the character's history to life was a pretty huge undertaking for the filmmakers. Granted, the movie is pretty famous for using de-aging technology, especially in the scenes where De Niro's character is very young, but believe it or not, there are a lot of practical effects on display, meaning the makeup team was on point for so much of that process.

Not only did they use prosthetics and cosmetics to give De Niro a lot more length in the tooth for Sheeran's nursing home scenes, but they also managed to bring him back in time by as much as 20 years with the magic of makeup. And Sheeran wasn't the only character that aged over time in the film. The makeup team also subtly aged up most of the film's principal characters as they popped in and out of Sheeran's life throughout this brilliant biopic, with stunning results.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

To truly capture the essence of the legendary Ma Rainey on-screen, her signature look simply had to be on point. Because as much as the "Mother of the Blues" was known for soulful music, she was also something of a style icon with her own bold flair and fashion choices.

So for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" star Viola Davis, that meant doing a little homework to learn that the real Ma Rainey always had a mouth full of gold teeth to show off during her performances, as well as layers of thick makeup. Behind the scenes, Davis also had to be doused with spray-on "sweat" to achieve Ma's glistening appearance as she put on her power performances. And thanks to the thoughtful makeup work and the fabulous costumes chosen for the role, Davis often found herself dancing even when the cameras weren't rolling.

A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting

You've never seen Tom Felton look quite as terrifying as this. In "A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting," the "Harry Potter" actor stars as the Grand Guignol, who might be better known as "the Boogeyman" — an evil being who creeps into children's rooms at night and leads a parade of nightmarish monsters.

To achieve his highly unsettling look as the thing that goes bump in the night, the makeup team used prosthetics, dark shadowing, and snakelike eye contacts to turn the fresh-faced actor into someone who believably gives all kids the creeps. As effectively off-putting as the look might be, though, Felton somehow didn't scare off his co-stars in real life. As behind-the-scenes footage from the film shows, they still managed to have a lot of good fun together, even with Felton's spine-tingling makeup still in full force.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

There was a lot of ground to cover when it came to bringing "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie" to life. Not only did the filmmakers set out to finally reveal what happened to Aaron Paul's fan-favorite character, Jesse Pinkman, after he escaped Jack Welker's compound in the "Breaking Bad" finale, but they also looked back in time to fill in some of the blanks about his terrible experience in captivity. So, for the makeup team, getting Aaron Paul into character again throughout these various points in the story was a heavy lift indeed.

For the flashback sequences, the makeup artists turned to the original series to capture all of the scars, facial hair, and caked-up grime that the character had when we last saw him. And as the timeline shifted throughout the story, they had to carefully adapt his look to his changing circumstances. Meanwhile, bringing Bryan Cranston's iconic Walter White back to life was a bit of an undertaking as well, as the makeup team had to cover up the actor's full head of hair and add on Walt's signature mustache to revive the memorable look from a sunnier time in Walter and Jesse's partnership. But by making their appearances match so closely to what fans remembered from the show and creating new looks to showcase the changing circumstances, the filmmakers ensured fans would strap in for a satisfying new ride in "El Camino."


Marlon Wayans really shows off his comedic range in the film "Sextuplets." He stars as a father-to-be named Alan who decides to finally find out more about his birth mother. He soon discovers that he's actually one of six children born to her at the same time. He then sets out to meet the family he never knew he had ... and finds out that all of his siblings are eccentric and truly strange people.

Wayans portrays all six of the siblings, and achieving the subtly distinct looks of the characters was a bit of masterwork. To become the boisterous Russell, for example, the team covered his face and neck with layers of prosthetics, in addition to adding freckles and thinning hair on top. Then, to become Dawn, Wayans was fitted with prosthetics and a layer of airbrushed makeup. In each of the transformations, Wayans' characters are ultimately distinct and unique but also still look related to one another throughout the pic, which means the makeup team did a great job giving each of character their own shine.

Project Power

You'd be hard pressed to recognize Colson Baker, aka Machine Gun Kelly, after his character, Newt, finds out exactly what his synthesized superpower is in "Project Power." In the film, Newt takes the mysterious pill called "Power" and discovers that his body reacts to the drug by turning him into a walking, talking fireball for five minutes.

But as fun as it might be to do some recreational flame-throwing in his free time, Newt's pyrokinesis does come at a great cost to his unmedicated appearance. After he tries the "Power" pills, he has some major scarring on his face as a result of the flames that have emerged from his skin. So it was up to the makeup team on the film to transform the character from a relatively normal looking guy into a charred mess of a man, and they also worked closely with the visual effects team to pull off that epic guy-on-fire moment that's seared into our memories forevermore.


Perhaps the most jaw-dropping makeup transformation of all is the achievement of Joel Edgerton's look as Nick Jakoby in "Bright." To create Jakoby's appearance as an orc, the makeup team had to carefully craft a textured mask that could be applied to the actor's face, in addition to adding ear prosthetics and layers of gray- and blue-tinted makeup patterns to the rest of his head.

In all, the makeup process took three hours a day to complete, but for Edgerton, being practically unrecognizable gave him a lot of freedom with his performance beneath that mythical skin. Of course, Edgerton wasn't the only fantasy creature to be seen in the film. The makeup team also had to work on hundreds of other actors and extras to create something of an orc army for the film. And all that hard work certainly paid off, as the highly believable look of the orcs helped transport audiences into this bright new world.