Actresses at Their Best When Roles Demand They Look Their Worst

Actresses win kudos for their least glamorous roles.

ByCOELI CARR
October 18, 2010, 5:05 AM

Oct. 18, 2010— -- In Hollywood it's all about beauty, glamour and allure. But those standards get set aside when Tinseltown's most bankable actresses decide to go totally ugly for a role.

Juliette Lewis is the latest one to nail a radically deglamorized performance.

In "Conviction," a new movie based on a true story of an unjust imprisonment, Lewis plays Roseanna Perry, a witness whose testimony put Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell) behind bars. Kenny's sister Betty Anne (Hilary Swank) gets a law degree with the sole purpose of finding evidence that will exonerate her sibling.

Although she doesn't get much screen time, Lewis' high-impact performance is memorable. And at awards' time, these celluloid transformations are often what stick in the minds of voters. Ask Charlize Theron.

After Theron had read one of Wuornos' letters, she told her director she wanted to put on some weight.

"We never discussed it like this big thing, like some aim -- 'We're gonna gain 30 pounds,'" said Theron. "It wasn't about getting fat. Aileen wasn't fat. Aileen carried scars on her body from her lifestyle, and if I'd gone to make this movie with my body -- physically I'm very athletic -- I don't know that I would have felt the things Aileen felt with her body. It was about getting to a place where I felt closer to how Aileen was living."

Theron's Oscar followed the one awarded to Nicole Kidman the year before. In "The Hours," Kidman portrayed the novelist Virginia Woolf, wearing a large prosthetic nose.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events