Pop Culture

Melissa Rivers transforms into late mom Joan Rivers for movie 'Joy'

Melissa Rivers followed her mom Joan Rivers' footsteps into the entertainment business. But now the "Fashion Police" host and producer is moving to the big screen, and in a way, she's bringing her mom with her.

For the new film "Joy," Melissa is actually playing her late mother, and the transformation is remarkable.

Even the star herself was taken aback by just how much she looked like Joan.

MORE: How Joan Rivers paved the way for modern funny women

"I think I was more freaked out in the hair and makeup tests than I was once I got on set," she told People magazine. "It was bizarre. I stopped looking in a mirror."

Dan Hallman / Dan Hallman/Invision/AP
This Feb. 21, 2013 photo shows comedian Joan Rivers, left, and her daughter Melissa Rivers in New York. Joan leads a panel on "Fashion Police," with Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and stylist George Kotsiopoulos as they critique celebrity style choices. Melissa is a co-executive producer and occasional panelist as well. (Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP)

MORE: Melissa Rivers reflects on mom Joan Rivers' final hours, 'Fashion Police' controversy

The idea to cast Melissa came straight from director David O. Russell, who thought she'd be perfect for the part. And while Rivers had some trepidation at first, she got over it when she considered who she'd be sharing screen time with.

"I thought, 'Seriously when am I ever going to get to work with Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell?'" she explained. "I was like, 'Okay, I'm in.'"

Her role in the film about a female entrepreneur is just a cameo, but Melissa was very careful about it.

MORE: Melissa Rivers says writing book 'saved me' after mom Joan Rivers' death

"It didn't hit me until I got home what a huge emotional risk I took," she told People. "I did not want it to be an impersonation and I don't think it came off that way."

See for yourself when "Joy" opens in theaters nationwide Dec. 25.

Follow Ree Hines on Twitter.

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