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Image: Anne Hathaway in "One Day"
Focus Features
Anne Hathaway begins "One Day" looking rather plain, but her beauty is in full bloom by the film's end.
TODAY contributor
updated 8/17/2011 1:05:16 PM ET 2011-08-17T17:05:16

Anne Hathaway spends the first hour of this week’s romantic drama “One Day” with barely controlled hair frizz, awkward-looking “smart person” glasses, no-sun-allowed makeup and sad fashion choices before finally becoming the luminously beautiful Anne Hathaway you already know. It’s how the movie tries to trick you into thinking she’s a Plain Jane.

Story: Hathaway and Sturgess make magic in 'One Day'

This sort of thing happens with a strange degree of frequency, and the more extreme the actress’s transformation the more likely the movie is to strive for significance and awards.

The statuesque South African gained 30 pounds, sported unwashed hair and wore a set of gnarled prosthetic teeth to play real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was terrified enough to give her an Oscar.

Anne Hathaway takes on paparazzi with a rap

Mo’Nique in 'Precious'
The curvy comedian squeezed herself into bizarre spandex aerobics gear, dirty jeans and head wraps, and went without makeup to play the mentally ill, brutally abusive mother to Gabourey Sidibe’s title character. She won the Academy Award for best supporting actress.

Image: Mariah Carey in "Precious"
Lionsgate Films
Mariah Carey is almost unrecognizable in "Precious."

Mariah Carey in 'Precious'
Music superstar Carey left behind the “Glitter” jokes and turned her physical self inside out until she was barely recognizable. Baggy gray clothes, a moplike wig, dark under-eye makeup and the weirdest hint of a mustache shocked audiences, but the real surprise was her powerful supporting performance.

Toni Collette in 'Muriel’s Wedding,' Minnie Driver in 'Circle of Friends,' Renee Zellweger in 'Bridget Jones’s Diary'
Three women, three comedies, three intentional weight gains between 25 and 40 pounds each. In other words, it made them look like normal people, aka “Hollywood Fat.” Zellweger’s role garnered her an Academy Award nomination, but she recently announced she would not gain weight for the upcoming third Bridget Jones movie.

Anne Hathaway mooned co-star

Ginnifer Goodwin in 'Something Borrowed'
New on DVD this week, the comedy traffics in glasses-equals-ugly “She’s All That” territory and assumes that simply putting the “Big Love” actress in boring outfits, nerdy specs and shapeless wigs will convince you that her responsible lawyer character has a good reason to have no self-esteem.

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Video: Hathaway on mooning costar, rapping, Catwoman (on this page)

Nicole Kidman in 'The Hours'
To play real-life literary figure Virginia Woolf, Kidman wore a prosthetic nose and dark brown hair. Not much change by some measures, but the effect was one of transformation, allowing Kidman to get lost in Woolf’s sudden presence, and win the best actress Oscar that year.

Anne Hathaway in 'The Princess Diaries
If her character in “One Day” feels familiar, it’s because she already did this very thing in her breakthrough role, as a curly haired, glasses-wearing girl who learns she’s a princess.

Story: Catwoman was Anne Hathaway's childhood dream

Dave White is a critic for Movies.com.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Watch the 'One Day' trailer

Photos: Nicole Kidman

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  1. Golden girl

    Actress Nicole Kidman arrives at the 83rd Academy Awards nominations luncheon held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 7, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Kidman, a nominee for "Rabbit Hole," already has a best actress Oscar, for 2002's "The Hours." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Beguiling smile

    Kidman arrives at the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on Jan. 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, Calif. She was nominated for her role in "Rabbit Hole," but lost to Natalie Portman in "Black Swan." (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Vision in white

    Kidman arrives for the 68th Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif., on Jan. 16, 2011. Once again, she lost out to Natalie Portman. (Mike Nelson / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Grieving parents

    In 2010's "Rabbit Hole," Kidman and Aaron Eckhart play a happily married couple whose lives are disrupted after they lose their young son in an accident. (Lionsgate) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Talking to Oprah

    Oprah Winfrey interviews Kidman and husband Keith Urban during a taping of the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' at the Sydney Opera House on Dec. 14, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. Kidman was raised in Sydney, so was a natural guest when Winfrey descended on Australia with 302 fans in late 2010. (Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. We are family

    Nicole Kidman and daughter Sunday Rose Urban are seen walking in New York on Nov. 17, 2010. Sunday now has a new sister: Early in 2011, Kidman and Keith Urban announced they had welcomed daughter Faith Margaret into their family via surrogate, on Dec. 28, 2010. Kidman also has teenage children Connor and Isabella with her ex-husband Tom Cruise, who she was divorced from in 2001. (Marcel Thomas / FilmMagic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Aloha!

    Kidman has a role in the 2011 Jennifer Aniston-Adam Sandler film "Just Go With It." Musician Dave Matthews, seen next to Kidman, is also in the film, which filmed in Maui, Hawaii. (INFphoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Country girl?

    Kidman arrives at the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas to support her husband, Keith Urban, on April 18, 2010. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Doing her celebrity duty

    Born in Hawaii, Kidman spent her earliest years in Washington before being raised in her parents' native Sydney. She's seen here with Stephen Urguhart, President of Omega at the opening ceremony of an Omega boutique in Hong Kong on May 20, 2010. (Ym Yik / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Kiss on my lips

    Kidman played the film-star muse of a director, portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis, in 2009's "Nine." The Wall Street Journal said the film was "loud, brash, brassy, sexy and sometimes tacky or silly, but always entertaining." () Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Speaking out for women

    In her role as United Nations Development Fund for Women Goodwill Ambassador, Kidman appears before the US House Committee of Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight in Washington on Oct. 21, 2009. (Michael Reynolds / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Sunday, Sunday

    Kidman and Urban leave New York's Plaza Hotel with their daughter Sunday Rose on Nov. 16, 2009. (Arnaldo Magnani / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A land Down under

    Actors Hugh Jackman and Kidman, both of Australian background, starred in the 2008 sprawling romantic epic "Australia." (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Now that's fame

    Kidman, actor Geoffrey Rush, actress Cate Blanchett and actor Russell Crowe are featured on a special collection of Australian postage stamps, the "2009 Australian Legends Of The Screen" series. (Gaye Gerard / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Waiting for Sunday

    Kidman and Urban arrive at the 43rd annual Academy Of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on May 18, 2008. Their daughter Sunday was born on July 7 in Nashville. (Charley Gallay / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Celebrity couple

    Kidman and Urban arrive at the world premiere of "The Golden Compass" on Nov. 27, 2007. (Anthony Harvey / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Price of fame

    Kidman arrives to testify at the Supreme Court in Sydney on Nov. 19, 2006. Kidman gave evidence about how she was reduced to tears and feared a car accident after a celebrity photographer pursued her in 2005. (Will Burgess / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Body snatching dud

    In the 2007 remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," Kidman starred as a Washington, D.C., psychiatrist who unearths the origins of an alien epidemic. The film was a disappointment at the box office. Minneapolis Star Tribune critic Colin Covert wrote, "'The Invasion' is a science fiction nightmare, the spectacle of actors who can do first-rate work trapped in a soul-destroying mechanism created by madmen." (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Newlywed

    Kidman married Australian country singer Keith Urban in Sydney, Australia, on June 25, 2006. The couple was wed at Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel, a gothic-style sandstone church, in St Patrick's estate, overlooking the ocean at Manly, one of Sydney's beach suburbs. (Tracey Nearmy / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. No magic

    Will Ferrell shared the screen with Kidman for the big-screen adaptation of "Bewitched" in 2005. This broad comedy tanked at the box office. Roger Ebert wrote, "There is not a movie here. Just scenes in search of one." (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Say what?

    Kidman starred opposite Sean Penn in Sydney Pollack's 2005 film, "The Interpreter." Her character, Sylvia Broom, overhears a plot to kill a foreign dignitary and she becomes intertwined in a story of murder and revenge. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Best seats in the house

    Kidman and her children Connor and Isabella attend a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat at the Staples Center on Dec. 25, 2004. (Matthew Simmons / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. What was she thinking?

    Kidman starred with Bette Midler in the 2004 remake, "The Stepford Wives." When it was released, the Toronto Star's Geoff Pevere wrote, "Henceforth, I fear Stepford may acquire new metaphorical implications. It will mean interesting old movies remade into lobotomized new ones." (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Backlash begins

    Kidman didn't fare as well in the 2003 adaptation of Charles Frazier's novel, "Cold Mountain." The film was deemed pretty but dull by critics, although co-star Renee Zellweger took home an Oscar for her role. (Miramax Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Winning by a nose

    Kidman won an Oscar for her role as Virginia Woolf in 2002's "The Hours." Based on Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, the film draws on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of three women. Kidman wore a prosthetic nose for her role. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Tom who?

    Kidman receives her trophy during the 59th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 20, 2002. Kidman won the best actress in a motion picture musical or comedy for her role in "Moulin Rouge." (Chris Haston / AFP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Career resurgence

    In her post-Tom Cruise years, Kidman experienced one of the most creatively fruitful periods of her career, which started with Baz Lurhmann's 2001 musical, "Moulin Rouge!" She co-starred opposite Ewan McGregor in this story of a writer who falls for a beautiful courtesan. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Last dance

    Cruise and Kidman starred in Stanley Kubrick's final film, 1999's "Eyes Wide Shut." The two played a married couple, who, bored with each other, look for sexual adventure with other people. In real life, the couple divorced in 2001. (Warner Bros. via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Cruise family 1.0

    Kidman and Cruise arrive at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport in 1996 with their adopted children Connor and Isabella. Kidman reportedly suffered a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy while married to Cruise. (Patrick Riviere / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Award-worthy work

    In 1995, Kidman showed she was more than a pretty ingenue in the dark Gus Van Zant comedy, "To Die For," in which she co-starred with Joaquin Phoenix. Kidman's performance as the cold-hearted, vindictive, manipulative and overly ambitious newsreader determined to achieve fame by any measures drew enormous critical praise. Kidman was nominated for a BAFTA and won a Golden Globe Award for her performance. (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Romance on screen and off

    Cruise and Kidman starred together again in Ron Howard's 1992 film, "Far and Away." Cruise and Kidman played Irish immigrants seeking their fortune in 1890s America, eventually taking part in the Land Run of 1893. (Universal Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Cruise control

    Kidman met future husband Tom Cruise on the set of the 1990 film "Days of Thunder," an auto racing drama directed by Tony Scott. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. 'Calm' before the storm

    American fans most likely first took notice of Kidman in the 1998 thriller "Dead Calm," in which she co-starred with Sam Neill and Billy Zane. The film, which told the story of a couple terrorized at sea by a stranger who comes aboard their boat, was based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Williams. The film was directed by Australian filmmaker Phillip Noyce and filmed in the Great Barrier Reef. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
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