Exploring the filmography of renowned actors is like embarking on a thrilling adventure. Except for the lucky few who achieve instant success with their debut, most actors have hidden gems from their early days in the industry. It’s a joy to discover a role where the actor is transformed by layers of makeup or mind-blowing special effects, morphing into a mesmerizing monster.
Sometimes, even after achieving stardom, these well-known actors embrace their inner creatures. Yet, these incredible performances often go unnoticed, especially in movies that don’t get the accolades they truly deserve. For various reasons, these particular forgotten monsters aren’t usually linked to the famous actors who portrayed them, or at least not widely recognized by fans.
1. Tim Curry In ‘Legend’
Tim Curry is known for his incredible performances that leave a lasting impression. It’s no surprise considering his first major acting opportunity was in the musical Hair. From there, he went on to star in the iconic musical and later film adaptations of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which really put him on the map. He continued to impress audiences with his roles in beloved films like Clue, The Hunt for Red October, and Charlie’s Angels.
While most people remember Curry for his chilling portrayal of Pennywise in the It mini-series, they may not realize that he also played another monstrous character – the Lord of Darkness in Ridley Scott’s 1985 movie, Legend. The makeup in that film was so extraordinary that Curry was completely unrecognizable. Many fans remember Tom Cruise as the hero, Jack O’ the Green, but it’s easy to forget that Curry was the menacing red-skinned devil he fought against.
2. Christopher Walken In ‘Sleepy Hollow’
Christopher Walken has had a long and successful career, appearing in various roles that people may recognize. From his Oscar-winning performance in The Deer Hunter to his memorable “More Cowbell” skit on Saturday Night Live, Walken has left his mark. He has also been involved in numerous Broadway and off-Broadway productions since the 1950s.
One of Walken’s less remembered appearances is in the 1999 gothic horror film Sleepy Hollow. Starring Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane and Christina Ricci as his love interest Katrina, the film features Walken in a brief role as the Hessian mercenary who eventually becomes the Headless Horseman. The physical portrayal of the horseman is done by Ray Park, known for his role as Darth Maul in Star Wars. Despite his limited screen time, Walken effectively captures the monstrous nature of the character, even before he loses his head.
3. Salma Hayek In ‘From Dusk till Dawn’
Salma Hayek started her career in Mexico and made a name for herself. She collaborated with Robert Rodriguez on a few movies, and it was through her role in the film Desperado that she gained recognition in Hollywood. Since then, she has become a household name, starring in critically acclaimed films like Frida, as well as commercial hits like Grown Ups and the Puss in Boots series.
Early in her career, Hayek appeared in Rodriguez’s cult classic From Dusk till Dawn. She played Santanico Pandemonium, a vampire queen who runs a strip club called the Titty Twister. Although her role was brief, she made an impact by biting and killing Richie (Quentin Tarantino), only to be dispatched by Seth (George Clooney). Despite being a forgotten film, From Dusk till Dawn boasts a surprisingly star-studded cast, and Hayek shines in her monstrous and unconventional role, a departure from her usual glamorous characters.
4. Gary Oldman In ‘Lost In Space’
When thinking about Gary Oldman, younger audiences often associate him with his roles in popular franchise films. For instance, he played Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series and James Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. However, it’s important to note that Oldman’s career is filled with diverse and critically acclaimed performances.
In addition to his well-known roles, Oldman has also appeared in highly praised films like Darkest Hour, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Oppenheimer. These movies showcase his versatility as an actor and highlight his ability to bring complex characters to life.
Sometimes, people tend to overlook the fact that Oldman has also taken on various monster roles in the past. One noteworthy example is his portrayal of Dr. Zachary Smith in the 1998 film Lost in Space. Initially, Smith is a regular human, but after being scratched by a spider-like creature, he undergoes a terrifying transformation into a spider-human hybrid.
Lost in Space may not receive as much attention as other films in Oldman’s repertoire, particularly when he has played iconic monsters such as Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the disfigured Mason Verger in Hannibal. These roles demonstrate Oldman’s willingness to fully immerse himself in characters that require extensive makeup and physical transformations.
5. Benicio Del Toro In ‘The Wolfman’
When it comes to Benicio del Toro, most fans would probably associate him with his roles in The Usual Suspects or his award-winning portrayal of Che Guevera in the movie Che. However, he has also made appearances in some major blockbuster franchises like the Marvel movies, where he played the Collector, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, where he portrayed the codebreaker D.J.
One role that often goes unnoticed when discussing del Toro’s iconic performances is his title role in the 2010 movie The Wolfman. While it may not have been as big of a failure as Universal’s attempted Dark Universe movies, The Wolfman didn’t quite meet expectations at the box office and didn’t capture much attention from audiences. It’s unlikely that del Toro is particularly bothered by this, but it’s still interesting to witness his transformation into a furry creature. The makeup team, led by Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, even won an Academy Award for their outstanding work.
6. Warwick Davis In ‘Leprechaun’
Star Wars fans are surely familiar with Warwick Davis, who played the lovable Ewok Wicket and even had a hand in bringing Yoda to life in The Phantom Menace. But Davis’s talents extend beyond the galaxy far, far away. He also made a mark in the movie and TV versions of Willow and took on the roles of Professor Flitwick and the goblin Griphook in the Harry Potter films.
But amidst all these notable franchise appearances, it’s easy to overlook Davis’s involvement in the cult-classic horror series Leprechaun. Released in 1993, the first installment of this funny horror movie series is definitely worth checking out. Davis puts his heart and soul into the role of Lubdan, a twisted and merciless leprechaun who will stop at nothing, even murder, to get back his stolen gold.
7. Robert De Niro In ‘Frankenstein’
Robert De Niro is known for his iconic roles in movies like The Godfather Part II and Taxi Driver. But he’s also made a name for himself in comedic roles during the ’90s and early 2000s, where he adds a lighter touch to his tough-guy persona, as seen in Meet the Parents.
Despite his impressive filmography, one role that many fans may not immediately associate with De Niro is that of Frankenstein’s monster in the 1994 film Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Surprisingly, De Niro’s portrayal of the creature received praise, while Branagh’s performance as Victor Frankenstein, alongside his directing duties, did not fare as well. Nonetheless, it’s worth revisiting this film if only to witness De Niro’s bitter and nuanced performance as the scarred and rejected creation.
8. Jack Nicholson In ‘Wolf’
Jack Nicholson is a Hollywood legend with a lengthy and impressive career. He has taken on numerous iconic roles, earning him a staggering 12 Academy Award nominations and winning three. Those wins came for his outstanding performances in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, As Good As It Gets, and Terms of Endearment. But it’s not just serious dramas that he’s known for; he has also made his mark in popular films like The Shining and Batman.
Given his extensive portfolio of memorable performances, it’s not surprising that one of his films may have slipped under the radar. That film is Wolf, a romantic horror flick released in 1994. In this movie, Nicholson portrays Will Randall, a man who gets bitten by a werewolf and subsequently transforms into one himself. His co-star, Michelle Pfeiffer, plays Laura, who initially doubts Will’s transformation until she witnesses it firsthand.
In a career filled with remarkable achievements, Wolf may not be the first film that comes to mind when thinking of Jack Nicholson. However, it showcases his versatility as an actor and adds another dimension to his already impressive body of work.
9. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje In ‘Suicide Squad’
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has an impressive resume when it comes to television. He’s been part of some of the most beloved projects in recent decades. You might remember him from his recurring roles on Oz and Lost, as well as his brief appearance in Game of Thrones. Not only that, but he has also made his mark on the big screen, appearing in popular movie franchises such as The Mummy, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the Bourne Identity series.
However, there’s one major franchise role that some people may have forgotten about. Akinnuoye-Abaje took on the role of Killer Croc in Suicide Squad, part of the DC Universe. In this character, he was completely transformed with layers of detailed and unsettling makeup, making him look like a humanoid crocodile. It’s no wonder that viewers may not have recognized him in this role.
10. Nicolas Cage In ‘Renfield’
Nicolas Cage is known for his incredibly diverse body of work, making him stand out among other actors. From his unforgettable performance in Leaving Las Vegas, which earned him an Academy Award, to his entertaining roles in blockbuster films like National Treasure and Kick-Ass, and even his ventures into the truly bizarre with movies like Pig and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Cage has truly done it all. It’s hard to keep up with his extensive filmography because he has taken on so many different roles.
When it comes to Cage’s portrayal of Dracula in Renfield, it seems that the film didn’t make much of an impact on audiences. It’s not that people have forgotten about his involvement, but rather that the movie itself didn’t grab much attention to begin with. However, Cage’s chemistry with Nicholas Hoult, who plays his vampiric servant, was commendable. Unfortunately, the comedic aspect of the film seems to have gone unnoticed by most viewers. It’s a bit disappointing that Renfield doesn’t have a scene as memorable as Cage’s infamous alphabet recitation in Vampire’s Kiss, which will likely be the role he is most remembered for in a vampire movie.