Actresses at Their Best When Roles Demand They Look Their Worst

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Mariah Carey.

In an interview with Newsweek, Carey described the mustache as "hideous."

"It's beyond no makeup," Carey said. "Did you not see the redness under my eyes, nose -- and the mustache? That's the only thing I care about. I lost all the vanity stuff, but when people really started analyzing, they have to ask about the mustache."

Despite the potential lure of accolades and awards, why would actresses and celebrities who take on movie roles decide that having the public see them at their most physically unflattering is a good idea?

Video: Movie Nine hits theaters on December 18th.
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"Film is a close-up medium where actresses are expected to be glamorous and, because of this, beauty is seen as a commodity," said Gregg Kilday, film editor at The Hollywood Reporter. "So when an actress has an opportunity to play down her glamour, it's more dramatic on film and considered a riskier move."

But just because an actress's character takes on an ugly look, he said, citing Emma Thompson's turn as "Nanny McPhee," it doesn't guarantee an award.

"Audiences and critics have their eyes on roles that convey real dramatic challenges," said Kilday.

"There aren't many great parts for women," said Bradley Jacobs, film editor for Us Weekly. "Even Gwyneth Paltrow, who won an Oscar, was cast in the supporting 'girlfriend' role in the "Iron Man" movies. So when an opportunity to downplay their looks for a role comes along, it can be a chance to bite into something real."

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Besides, said Jacobs, "Viewers are often so used to seeing these actresses gorgeous that seeing them ugly is kind of intriguing and even fun."

In speaking to collider.com about her character, Penelope, who doesn't leave the house, Ricci said, "People are not experiencing life because they are so insecure that they are literally crippled and trapped."

She called that sentiment "a huge message," and that the movie's message is self-acceptance.

Perhaps otherwise gorgeous actresses playing ugly -- even though it's only in a two-hour movie -- are exactly what viewers need to see in order to gain some of that self-acceptance for themselves.

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