In the original Casino Royale novel, Le Chiffre is described as an overweight, unattractive man. Averted in the original television adaptation, where he was played by overweight, unattractive Peter Lorre. Subverted in the first movie adaptation, where he was played by overweight but dapper and stylish Orson Welles. Played straight in the 2006 film, in which he's played by trim and handsome Mads Mikkelsen.
In a filmed play of Death of a Salesman, Dustin Hoffman plays the character of Willy Loman, who in the play's original script was described as fat and unattractive. The film edits out references to Loman's weight and replaces them with jabs at his intellect and height. Apparently Arthur Miller told Dustin Hoffman his original vision of Willy Loman was a small man, despite how casting for the first play turned out.
Every single film adaptation of one of Roald Dahl's works can come across as this almost automatically, because of the books' art style for the illustrations, which makes everyone seem a notch or two less attractive than they presumably are supposed to be. If you're beautiful or cute, you look average. If you're average, you look ugly, and if you're ugly, you look like a troll. The most extreme example of this would be Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, even with the creepy aspects of his makeup. But Wonka has always been prone to having his look toned down in adaptations — in the novel he's a Rummage Sale Reject who appears middle-aged (he still has black hair and a goatee) but is really older than he looks; prior to Quentin Blake, illustrators gave the character a rather leprechaun-esque appearance inspired, perhaps, by the phrase "extraordinary little man". In the public imagination, however, people think of either Depp or, even more often, Gene Wilder (who's also more conventionally attractive than the book description) when you bring the character up.
Gerard Butler as the Phantom in the musical The Phantom of the Opera (2004) is an extreme example of this. The nature of the Phantom's deformity is already different from the source novel's in the stage version (in the novel his face resembles a skull, and the stage version it's only half of his face that's affected), but still, he's alarming to look at unmasked. Butler's deformity in the film is commonly described as resembling third-degree sunburn at worst. On top of this, while the Phantom is usually played by middle-aged actors on stage - in part because a key plot thread is Christine seeing him as a father figure - Butler was 34 when the film was shot. Hotter and Sexier, sure, but this is supposed to be one character whose entire point is that he is not at all hot or sexy!
Julian Sands played the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (1998) with his regular face (though then again, that adaptation did include him having sex with rats, a condition many people would find more repulsive than a disfigured face, so this one may even out).
The Phantom wasn’t the only one in 2004 film to get an attractive makeover, as surprisingly Madame Giry gets this. In the book she’s an outlandish old bag, who is more serious in the musical but certified no spring chicken. In the film she’s played by the comely 46 year old Miranda Richardson who was known for playing sexy femme fatales in other movies
Skin had freakish gray skin and (Depending on the Artist) an unsettling, impish appearance in the Generation X series. In the 90s TV movie, he just looks like a typical Hispanic teenager.
Famous aversion in The Shining as in Stephen King’s novel Jack Torrance is rugged and tall, and his wife Wendy is blonde and beautiful. The stocky and balding Jack Nicholson and the disheveled and brunetteShelley Duvall clearly don’t match the book’s description (Steven Weber and Rebecca De Mornay in the TV Miniseries do however). This was actually intentional on Stanley Kubrick’s part as he wanted an “unhinged” look to the characters and subvert the typical Hollywood standard.
Played straight with Stuart Ullman who is described as a short fat man in the book, but is played by the tall and pleasant looking Barry Nelson in the movie and a young Elliott Gould in the Miniseries.
In the book and Miniseries, Lorraine Massey aka the ghost in Room 217 was an unattractive woman in her fifties when she committed suicide in the Room 217's bathroom after being abandoned by her much younger lover. When Jack visits Room 217, he never actually gets a good look at Mrs. Massey, though it's heavily implied she's manifesting as a rotting corpse. In Stanley Kubrick's movie, the woman in Room 237 (never explicitly named but heavily implied to be the movie's version of Lorraine Massey) first appears to Jack as a beautiful nude young woman. It's only after Jack gives in to temptation and embraces her that she takes on the appearance of the rotting corpse of an old woman.
In Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, the protagonist is described as overweight, sloppy, red-headed (as are his daughters) and with a face wrinkled like a crenshaw melon. In the film adaptation, he is portrayed by Kevin Spacey—not a matinee idol, but handsomer than that.
D-Day, a Russian Foreign Remake to Commando, does this to the air stewardess character. The original was still good looking, but the remake stars Russian supermodel Aleksandra Ursuliak in the role, who even gets a swimsuit scene absent in the original.
Dragon Ball Evolution does this to Chi-Chi. Although she is by no means ugly in the source material (being quite attractive as a teenager), she’s still presented as a frumpy House Wife in the later series and less attractive and fashionable than Bulma. In Dragon Ball Evolution Chi-Chi is played by the stunningly beautiful Jamie Chung who's decked out in fashionable outfits and is ironically more striking than the film's version of Bulma.
King Piccolo in the original series had goblin-like facial features while his reincarnation/son had a less threatening face (especially after his Heel–Face Turn). In Dragon Ball Evolution King Piccolo is played by the handsome James Marsterscovered in green makeup. Worth noting the filmmakers were originally going make him look more attractive, but Marsters (who was a huge fan of Dragon Ball) insisted that King Piccolo should look inhuman.
In Louis Sachar's Holes, Stanley is explicitly described as fat on repeated occasions. Shia LaBeouf, the actor playing him in the movie, is quite lanky. A part of the original story was that Stanley would gradually get more fit by all the work at Camp Green Lake, however this had to be dropped for continuity reasons, and because such a drastic change would be too dangerous for a child actor.
Becky Albertali's novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda describes the main-character Simon as wearing glasses and having extremely messy hair. In the movie-adaptation Love, Simon, Simon is portrayed by angel-faced actor Nick Robinson who has shiny, straight hair, and Simon loses the glasses outside of flashbacks.
Ralph Fiennes playing Francis Dolarhyde in the 2002 Red Dragon film. According to the book, Dolarhyde, though plain, is nowhere near as hideous as he thinks he is (certainly not ugly enough for every woman to automatically reject him based on looks), but he still doesn't look like Fiennes. Dolarhyde's insecurity about his looks is (at least according to the movie) rooted in him having a cleft palate, which was corrected later with surgery. Manhunter's Dolarhyde clearly showed the scar from the operation but Ralph Fiennes playing Dolarhyde just looks like--Ralph Fiennes. Not that cleft palate surgery hasn't come a long way since then but Red Dragon is supposed to be a remake, not a reboot. On the other hand, Dolarhyde is described as verymuscular in the book while in both film versions he's skinny, even though confusingly Red Dragon keeps the line from the book where Reba comments that the women in their work place are impressed by his physique. In the Hannibal series Dolarhyde is played by Mr. FanserviceRichard Armitage.
Speaking of Manhunter, Freddy Lounds was played by Stephen Lang, who even today is most certainly not lumpy, ugly, and short with buck teeth like Lounds is described in the novel. In Red Dragon Lounds is played by Big Beautiful ManPhilip Seymour Hoffman who like Lang lacks the hideous features Freddy Lounds is described as having in the book.
Will Graham himself, Dolarhyde remarks in a letter to Hannibal in the book that Will isn't very good looking note although given Dolarhyde's own crippling issues with his appearance, he very well be could be projecting here . In Manhunter he's played by the 80s hearthrobe William Petersen and in the Hannibal he's played by Pretty BoyHugh Dancy. Out of the actors portraying Graham Edward Norton from Red Dragon is likely Truer to the Text. Additionally Will is badly disfigured by Dolarhyde in the last minute twist to the novel, Jack Crawford even describes Will as "looking like a Picaso" to Clarice in Silence of the Lambs. In both film adaptations Will is spared from Facial Horror, getting at most some heroic scars in Manhunter.
In the book Psycho (yes, there was a book), Norman Bates was fat, bespectacled, and middle-aged, unlike Anthony Perkins in the movie. In fact, he resembles his real-life inspiration, Ed Gein. The change in the film was intentional, because Hitchcock thought that an attractive Norman would be easier to sympathize with.
In Jane Eyre, Rochester is downright unattractive and well into middle age. Jane Eyre herself is young, but extremely plain. These are actually important character traits, as they love each other for their inner character and each pass up on a more attractive prospective mate. In adaptations, however, Rochester is usually a rather handsome, if gruff, older gentleman, while Jane Eyre is at worst Hollywood Homely. In the 1983 miniseries, Rochester was played by Timothy Dalton! In the BBC miniseries adaptation (2006), Mr. Rochester is played by Toby Stephens◊ and by Michael Fassbender◊ in the 2011 film. All decidedly good-looking.
Debatable, considering that while those actors are attractive according to modern day standards, they might not have been considered attractive according to 19th century standards.
As for actresses playing Jane, let's remind ourselves that in the 1944 adaptation, Joan Fontaine played Jane.
In the comics, Doctor Doom wears a mask to hide the severe burns he suffered as a young man. The first Tim Story Fantastic Four movie keeps the mask, but the explanation is changed from a disfiguring explosion to his new powers gradually turning his body into living metal. The second movie then completely undoes this by having the Silver Surfer accidentally heal his face with an energy blast, which somehow conveniently lets Doom keep his powers and his good looks. This also raises the question of why he even bothers to don the mask during the final act, since he no longer has any reason to cover his face.
In the Philip K. Dick short story Minority Report, the first three things we learn about the protagonist are that he's fat, bald and old. The fact that he's reaching retirement age is a plot point in the ending. The movie cast Tom Cruise, though amazingly they allow him to be bald at the end. Also, the mutants in the story were explicitly stated to be hideous. You know, kind of like how you'd expect mutants to look. On screen they're buzzed and pale, but otherwise normal.
In the novel of Little Children, the character Ronnie bears very little physical resemblance to Jackie Earle Haley, being an overweight, balding chain-smoker who wears glasses. While Haley is no George Clooney, he brought a far more sympathetic interpretation to the character than what was probably intended. Sarah Peirce was also described as being not very pretty in the book. In the movie they worked over time to make Kate Winslet seem frumpy but their best efforts made her look Hollywood Homely.
In The Princess Bride, Prince Humperdinck is ridiculously over-muscled, and Vizzini is a hunchback. In the movie, Humperdinck is merely in pretty good shape, and Vizzini is simply very short. Then again, Vizzini's face is described as "angelic" in the book likely in an intentional contrast with his hunchback and vile personality while in the film he's plain looking.
Some people thought that the overall cast was too young and attractive to portray some of the middle-aged and beaten-down characters. (Although the age issue was out of necessity, to allow the actors to portray their younger selves in flashbacks). Walter Kovacs in particular, AKA Rorschach, is supposed to be "fascinatingly ugly". Compare comics◊ and movie◊ versions.
In the comic, a deconstruction of the superhero genre, the characters' costumes were intended to look somewhat silly to highlight the inherent absurdity of classic superhero costumes. In the movie, however, the costumes are played straight, and look much more stylish. Nite Owl II's was changed from a full body and head robe to a form fitting armor suit with pointier ears.
In From Hell, in which Inspector Frederick Abberline is a overweight, middle-aged man typical of the Victorian middle-class. The film casts Johnny Depp as the Inspector. Similarly, the Ripper's victims generally appear more attractive in the film than they did in the comic or in real-life, as late Victorian streetwalkers in their early-to-mid forties, though most of the actresses were close in age to the women they portrayed.
In The Neverending Story, Bastian is fat, and it's one of the key problems he experiences in life with teasing by bullies. In the movies, not only is he thin, but in The Neverending Story 2, he's a lithe athletic swimmer. One of the Aesops of the book was Bastian using his Fantastican powers to wish for an athletic body, which was a symptom of him losing his identity.
James is described in the book as very average and unremarkable in appearance, the producers still cast Cam Gigandet◊ in the role.
Bella Swan thinks of herself as rather plain and unfashionable, while Kristen Stewart◊ plays her in the movies. However, some readers infer that Bella is overly hard on her appearance.
Alice is never described as ugly but is described as very short, compared to Ashley Green who's 5'6". Transversely Rosalie is described as very tall, but is played by Nikki Reed who is actually the same height.
Eric is described as having terrible skin, but Justin Chon is completely blemish free.
21, a movie based on the book about several MIT students gaming casinos in Blackjack. The (actual, still living) MIT students are replaced with vastly more attractive (and all white) actors for the movie.
As mentioned in the Western Animation section, Alistair Smythe was originally a fat, hairy slob in the comics, at least until he was transformed into the Ultimate Spider-Slayer. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, he's played by B.J. Novak and depicted as a thin and clean shaven man.
Hobbits are generally portly, but with the exception of Sean Astin, who is already stocky and gained some weight for the role of Sam, the producers hired slender actors for the Fellowship hobbits. Director Peter Jackson didn't want the characters to look like little people by being overly stocky. Frodo in the books is described as "stout," and, while he's supposed to look younger than his actual age (fifty), teenager Elijah Wood is definitely stretching it. Then again, hobbits do age more slowly than humans. Hobbits in the books are also said to look friendly, not handsome or beautiful, which cannot be said for the Fellowship hobbits (nor for the younger Bilbo, for that matter).
A minor, strange case in V for Vendetta: in the comic, V's mask has a round face and an upturned nose, making him look sort of like a doll with a mustache and a goatee, making some of his panels look more inappropriately cute than usual in especially serious scenes. In the film, he has a longer face and a long, straight nose, making him look more masculine.
To quote Miles Kreuger on the film adaptations of Show Boat: "Cap'n Andy's three tarts in the 1936 version are gaudily dressed and made up for their profession: in this (1951) film they are three wholesome extra girls who might be expected at Lady Astor's in their chic finery." Kreuger made similar observations about Helen Morgan (who appeared in the 1936 film) vs. Ava Gardner (of the 1951 film) as Julie in the scene where she sings "Bill".
In the novel of Children of Men, the descriptions of Theo do not exactly call to mind a Clive Owen. Then again, about the only thing the two of them have in common is their name and a few backstory elements, the film being a very loose adaptation.
In the film adaptation of Let the Right One In, Oskar is played by a reasonably cute and thin child. In the book, however, he is overweight and has major problems with food. Despite being a generally lauded film, the film rather confusingly still has the bullies call Oskar "piggy". The American remake includes his obsession with candy, but also keeps him as a skinny, scrawny kid.
In the book Elia was noted for how mangy and androgynous looking she was. While both film versions are much cleaner and more feminine looking.
In Camp Nowhere, Melody Kay plays Gaby, a girl who is sent to fat camp and whose extra weight is mentioned by love interest, Mud ... except that the girl is average-to-thin. She's the same size as the movie's hot girl.
In Jane Campion's Bright Star, incredibly gorgeous Ben Whishaw plays John Keats, who really wasn't as gorgeous as Whishaw. He was also only five feet tall, while Wishaw is 5'9".
Ben Whishaw plays Grenouille in the film adaptation of Patrick Süskind's Perfume. While in both the novel and the film, he's filthy, malnourished and disfigured by scars from the tannery, in the novel he's described as ugly even before receiving these maladies.
Leslie Burke in the book Bridge to Terabithia was described as looking more like a boy than a girl and wearing plain clothing. In the film, she was played by AnnaSophia Robb, who wore bright, colourful clothes at every opportunity. According to the filmmakers, this was because the book's standards of an un-normal girl had changed by the present.
The play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune originally starred Kathy Bates and Kenneth Welsh, and was revived with Stanley Tucci and Edie Falco. The 1991 film version, Frankie and Johnny, starred Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. Yes, that's right, a young Michelle Pfeiffer in a role originated by Kathy Bates.
In the film adaptation of Gypsy, burlesque artist Gypsy Rose Lee is played by Natalie Wood, who had a significantly prettier face.
In the bookJurassic Park, protagonist Alan Grant is described as short, potbellied, and bearded. A tall, thin, and clean shaven Sam Neill dashingly plays him in the movie. Similarly, Ian Malcolm is described as a "thin, balding man". Who plays him in the movie? A studly, and very not-bald Jeff Goldblum.
In the book The Little White Horse, Sir Benjamin Merriweather is described as fat, bowlegged, and past his prime. In its film adaptation, The Secret of Moonacre, he's played by the lean, sinewy Ioan Gruffudd, who's also considerably younger than the character.
The novel The Hotel New Hampshire makes it clear that Susie the Bear really is ugly; she has major acne scars. In the movie she is played by Nastassja Kinski (with no fake scars or anything) who only thinks she is ugly. This ruins a major plot point, changes the character (instead of being ugly and knowing it, she is beautiful and thinks she is ugly), and ruins An Aesop about beauty.
In the Master and Commander adaptation of the Aubrey-Maturin series, both Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are far more attractive than their book counterparts. Something of a Pragmatic Adaptation, however, because in the books Stephen is 5'6" and "indefinably odd-looking" or "pitifully small and distorted", and Jack more than 6 feet tall, but Paul Bettany is, at 6'3", four inches taller than Russell Crowe. Jack in the books is usually more than 16 stone, but Crowe only gained a little for the role.
Sleepy Hollow (1999). The original description of Ichabod Crane is nothing like Johnny Depp. However, virtually nothing about Crane is the same as his original character in the short story. Originally, they did a few test runs with Depp wearing facial prosthetics, but Tim Burton ended up changing his mind, saying that in this case, it was Crane's personality quirks that made him unattractive.
In the Tom Ripley novels, Tom's housekeeper/Morality Pet Madame Antoinette is a middle aged-elderly Frenchwoman of friendly but average appearance. In the film Ripley Under Ground, which is a somewhat Lighter and SofterPragmatic Adaptation, Antoinette is a pretty young woman who is the maid (not a French Maid though except in a literal sense) of Tom's future wife, but is also friendly with her/likes Tom as in the novels.
In War and Peace, Pierre Bezukhov is overweight and in the beginning, a socially awkward delinquent. In the 1956 version of the movie, he's played by Henry Fonda and is anything but overweight and socially awkward.
While the original Clash of the Titans ups Medusa's hideousness by making her a Snake Woman, the remake has a snakelike Gorgeous Gorgon. Until she gets her Game Face on that is. However, the original Medusa was a very beautiful temple maiden, before being turned into a monster. This is probably a compromise of the conflicting myths about her appearance.
The novel Thirteen Women has a pair of twin sisters named May and June, who work as sideshow attractions due to their obesity. In the 1932 film adaptation, May and June are still circus performers, but are changed to lovely, thin acrobats.
In Sense and Sensibility, Colonel Brandon is described as being not nearly as handsome as Willoughby. He's described as the 18th century version of "okay looking," and someone that Marianne became attached to because he was kind to her when she was ill. In the 1995 film, he's played by Alan Rickman. Willoughby who? Plenty of women would have snapped up the movie version of Colonel Brandon without a second glance at Willoughby. Kind, honorable and Alan Rickman sexy? Sign us up!
It's difficult to claim this trope for adaptations of theatre productions, because the characters are played by so many different actors it's hard to claim which actor is the "right" amount of attractive. However, comparing the original castings of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett◊ in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with the versions shown in movie, and it's hard to claim Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are accurate, especially given Todd's backstory, and while Benjamin Barker was supposedly attractive before he was exiled at least to Mrs. Lovett, after his ordeal he'd probably look a little more messed up than Johnny Depp with a skunk stripe.
In the novel Taffin, the title character is overweight and unattractive. In the movie, he's played by Pierce Brosnan.
Partially lampshaded in American Splendor, when Joyce talks about how Harvey is depicted in his comic:
Joyce: You know, I don't really know what to expect. Sometimes you look like a younger Brando... but then the way Crumb draws you, you look... like a hairy ape, with all these wavy, stinky lines undulating off your body. I don't really know what to expect.
Dracula. In the book Dracula was old and ugly, with hairy palms, whilst most of the films make him younger, suave, and Tall, Dark, and Handsome. The most extreme example must be the 1979 version, which makes Dracula look like this◊ and have a voice that could melt butter. Same often goes for his personality; in the book he was an old man, tired with immortality, who wanted to take over the world, whose bite seems to be a metaphor for rape and sexually transmitted disease. In the movies, he seduces Mina and/or Lucy, with plenty of angst over the loneliness of living forever and being a vampire. Luke Evans who plays him in Dracula Untold is a similar example.
Also applicable to Renfield in one known adaptation of the novel. While he's normally interpreted by older-looking men, more similar in appearance to the character in the books; he was played by the handsome Dwight Frye◊ in the 1931 version.
In Stephen King's Carrie, the title character is overweight, has thinning dark hair, acne in her face and chest and back, and possibly hirsutism (she seems to have all the signs of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- hence explaining her late puberty). In the movie, she is played by Sissy Spacek, who is slender, has thick shiny blonde hair, and clear skin- and thus her late puberty is likely due to something else! Though the filmmakers did at least acknowledge this by having the gym teacher tell Carrie that she is a pretty girl but just needs to work on her appearance. In the 2013 re-adaptation, Carrie is portrayed by Chloë Grace Moretz, filmed in 2012 when this was how she looked on an average day◊. The 2002 film cast Angela Bettis who went down the Beauty Inversion route but at the same time was still much thinner than the book counterpart.
The novel of True Grit describes Mattie as ugly on multiple occasions, as well as describing Rooster as old and fat. Neither film adaptation really held to this. The 2010 adaptation made it even more jarring by keeping all the dialogue about ugliness and fatness. Hailee Steinfeld wasn't made up like a beauty pageant entry or anything, but has flawless skin and shiny hair; she's at worst Hollywood Homely. Jeff Bridges had something like a visible gut, but was hardly fat.
This isLoki in the Thor comics. This is◊ Tom Hiddleston as Loki in the movies. Good grief. There's a reason why he has so many fangirls. Coincidentally, the Norse god of mischief was described as "pleasing and handsome" (an alternate translation is "beautiful and comely," which is closer to our modern definition of a Pretty Boy) in the original myths. Marvel later came up with a younger version of Loki... who looks suspiciously like Tom Hiddleston.
In Doctor Strange, Karl Mordo is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, a very handsome actor who has even been included in People Magazine's annual "Sexiest Man Alive" feature. This is in sharpcontrast to the comics, where Mordo (especially when drawn by Steve Ditko) was often depicted as an unappealing middle-aged man with a prominent widow's peak.
Homecoming also makes the Vulture younger and better looking. Michael Keaton may not be a spring chicken, but the comic version of the Vulture is usually depicted as a wrinkled old man with a large, bird-like nose and a scrawny physique.
In the comics, Helmut Zemo has to wear a mask to hide his charred, hideously disfigured face. In the above-mentioned Civil War, he's played by the handsome Daniel Brühl without any sort of mask or facial prosthetics. He begins wearing a mask in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and there's always the possibility his face could be burned in a future movie or TV show.
Spider-Man: No Way Home interestingly provides Adaptational Attractiveness to a character from another movie: Jamie Foxx's Max Dillon/Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, who, as the Lizard puts it, originally had "bad teeth, glasses, and a combover" before turning into a blue-skinned Humanoid Abomination. Once he enters the MCU in No Way Home, he transforms into a normal-looking human with a sidecut and goatee, a healthier bronzed complexion, and actual muscle tone; this is a contributing factor to Electro wanting to stay on Earth-199999.
In the Agent Pendergast novel The Relic, the character of police lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta was portrayed as overweight and near middle age. In the film adaptation, he was played by Tom Sizemore, who was 35 at the time and mildly stocky.
Happens frequently in adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, described in the stories as pale, gaunt and hooknosed. In this case the prettification started with the original illustrations — Arthur Conan Doyle remarked that he had always imagined Sherlock as "uglier" than the rather dashing figure depicted by illustrator Sidney Paget; but that "perhaps from the point of view of my lady readers it was as well". In films, Holmes is often played by handsome leading men such as Christopher Lee (who was, at least, rather hook-nosed), Rupert Everett, and Robert Downey Jr..
In the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, Stephanie is supposed to be a fairly average Jersey girl with Italian and Hungarian heritage. In One for the Money, the film adaptation of the first book in the series, she's played by Katherine Heigl, who, despite whatever else one may think of her, is generally agreed to be physically gorgeous.
Les Misérables (1935): Fantine dies in both book and film, but unlike in the book, she gets to keep her hair, teeth, and good skin at the time of her death.
In the novel, Mme. Thenardier is a massive, muscular woman with highly masculine features, and is frequently compared to an ogress, and the stage version, while upgrading her appearance slightly, generally goes out of its way to make her relatively unattractive. In the film of the musical, however, she's played by Helena Bonham Carter, who is made-up to look blowsy-looking but otherwise has no change in her appearance.
M. Thenardier is described as a sickly-looking "runt" who is not at all good-looking. Performances of the musical tend to cast actors whose physical appearance along with make-up more or less fit that description. However, in the film he's played by Sacha Baron Cohen, who, while showing a bit of Thenardier's creepy vibe, is probably the best looking and most stylishly dressed incarnation of the character.
In the book and to a lesser extent in adaptations, Valjean looks like an old man by time he rescues Cosette (and in the book has stark white hair after being Locked into Strangeness). In addition, the book describes him as being of average height (which in early 19th century France was about 5'5"). In the film, he's 6'3" Hugh Jackman.
Eponine in the book is scrawny, dirty, and not attractive at all, but in the film she is portrayed by the lovely Samantha Barks. Same goes for several of the barricade boys, who are invariably attractive onscreen.
One of those 'barricade boys' Grantaire is described by Hugo who says "He was frightfully ugly; the prettiest shoe-binder of that period, Irma Boissy, revolting at his ugliness, had uttered this sentence: "Grantaire is impossible."" George Blagden◊ is far from ugly.
Gavroche in the movie and the plays is adorable and woobified, while in the book he is a starving son of the already ugly Thenardiers, and is portrayed in the author's pen and ink drawings as having wild, tangled hair and a slightly hideous wide mouth and jutting chin.
Child Cosette was ugly and wretched from years of starvation, neglect and abuse, but she's portrayed as a cute girl.
Misery is a partial example. While Kathy Bates is no supermodel, she's still leaps and bounds above the way Annie Wilkes was described in the book. In the movie, Wilkes was at least clean and well-groomed. However, in the book, Annie was described as a shapeless blob of a woman who was always dressed dumpily and reeked of dirt and cheap makeup.
Mary Poppins looks prettier in the movie than her counterpart from the books did, at least by the author's standards (to the point that the author remarked to Julie Andrews, "you're much too pretty, of course. But you've got the nose for it"). However, Mary in the books had a worse habit of admiring her own reflection.
Cha-Cha DiGregorio is a tall, shapely, attractive dancer and said to be Danny's ex-girlfriend. This is a far cry from the original musical, where she's meant to be slovenly, plain-faced, and was usually played by a much heavier actress (who'd be made up to look far from attractive). She also has no past connection to Danny, and is played off as an aggressive Brawn Hilda type.
Jan is meant to be visibly overweight and not seen as particularly attractive. While the film tries to assert that Jan is "fat" and she's shown dressed in frumpy clothing compared to the other girls, she's actually on the thinner side and her final appearance shows that she has no problem with fitting into a tight dress (although her actress claims the intent was for the character to lose weight over the course of the story).
In Lord of the Flies, Jack Merridew is described as having an ugly face and bad teeth and his mere presence frightened the younger children. In both movie adaptations, the child actor is more attractive than the book's description.
Adaptations are a borderline example. While Elizabeth IS beautiful, her older sister Jane is supposed to be the prettiest. Precious few adaptations acknowledge this however, likely because Elizabeth is the main character. This crosses over with Values Dissonance in the 1995 miniseries; Susannah Harker fits the ideal of Regency beauty perfectly, while Jennifer Ehle doesn't, but most modern viewers find Ehle more attractive. The 2005 film comes the closest to the original book; Jane is played by the classically, traditionally beautiful Rosamund Pike, while the much more ethereally striking (but still gorgeous) Keira Knightley plays Elizabethnote Keira Knightley claims that Joe Wright was reluctant to cast her as Lizzie at first, precisely because of her beauty.
Mary is supposed to be the plain sister - though partly down to her unattractivepersonality. But most adaptations cast a cute girl. Joe Wright's version has a compromise, where Mary is a Perpetual Frowner who dresses in drab grey clothes - but looks just as pretty as the others when she's dressed up for the balls.
The movie version of Beastly is a pretty egregious offender—in the book, Kyle becomes a hairy animal, much like in a certain other adaptation that it mimics. In the movie, he's clearly human, but with no hair, some scars and some tattoo-like markings...which means that he looks less like a "beast" and more like a hardcore punk. Depending on one's tastes, his cursed form may be more attractive than he is normally! The makeup actually is rather elaborate (67 pieces, taking three hours to prepare each day) but it's clear that the filmmakers didn't want their YA romance star to be "ugly," even if that's the whole premise of the story.
In the book, Kendra is originally overweight and pimply, despite being able to take on a more attractive. In the movie, her "ugly" form is basically just Mary-Kate Olsen as a Goth.
Catherine Hubscher◊ (1753-1835), better known as Madame Sans-Gêne, was famous for being ugly but with a heart of gold. So of course, in the 1961 movie made after a play centred around her life, she's played by Sofia Loren◊.
In the comic Asterix and Cleopatra, Cleopatra is extremely attractive but has a Gag Nose which other characters constantly make backhanded compliments about, and her ostentatiousness is expressed through what she surrounds herself with. In the film adaptation she is played by Monica Bellucci in just the most impossibly Gorgeous Period Dresses ever.
Blade: Deacon Frost is made into a Generation X hipster played by Stephen Dorff. In the comics, he was an old white haired guy with a German accent from the 1860s.
Blade: Trinity: Hannibal King also gets a similar treatment. In the comics, he's a reserved, mature man of average build who appears to be in his early forties. Not unattractive, but he has the shifty, seedy look that was appropriate for the Hard Boiled Detective that he was. Ryan Reynolds played King in Trinity and they made a point of showing off the muscles that he put on for the role. Reynolds essentially injected his Van Wilder character onto King.
Nick Prugo, real-life member of the Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch, had this to say about the casting of The Bling Ring:
Nick Prugo: The character that Claire Julien plays, based on Courtney I believe — Claire did an amazing job and she's way hotter than [Courtney is] in real life.
The Witch, when aged and ugly, also fares better than in most stage productions. She's generally a complete hag, but onscreen just has neglected skin and teeth plus scary hands.
Maleficent: Played with. Maleficent here is played by Angelina Jolie, but the original animated character wasn't exactly hideous (and was herself a case of Adaptational Attractiveness compared to the traditionally ugly Evil Fairy). Simultaneously inverted with Aurora, but only to a point: Aurora in the original film was modeled after actresses in their twenties, despite being sixteen at most. For this film, Aurora is portrayed by Elle Fanning, who, while by no means ugly, is noticeably more childlike in terms of appearance. This was due to Fanning being only fourteen/fifteen during filming, but this does have the advantage of her portrayal of Aurora looking like an actual teen (despite detractors saying she looked too young).
In Vampire Academy, Headmistress Ellen Kirova is given an unflattering depiction. Rose thinks of her as an "old hag", and describes her as sharp-nosed, gray-haired, tall, slim, and reminiscent of a vulture. In the film, Kirova is played by the famously attractive Olga Kurylenko. Kurylenko has had a notable modelling career, including photo shoots for Vogue, Elle, Madame Figaro, Marie Claire, and Victoria's Secret catalogues. Far from looking like a hag. It's lampshaded, when Kirova comments that she "could have been a model".
While Lady Tremaine's ugliness is never addressed, in the 1950 animated film she definitely looks like a senior widow (old looking, plain clothing), here she's younger, stylish and played by Cate Blanchett.
The "ugly" stepsisters (who were genuinely unsightly in the animated film) here just wear ghastly clothes with bad make-up choices, although the film's narration comments that they aren't ugly on the outside, but on the inside.
In the novel, Tris is described as average looking, slim, and short teenager. She's also described as not having much of a chest and having a long nose. In the film, she is played by the gorgeous Shailene Woodley. She is a developed adult, and more physically attractive than described.
In the novel, Eric is described as having a frightening and repugnant appearance. In the film, he certainly still has an intimidating presence, but is actually pretty good looking.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: The movie makes the Baudelaire children appear much more "pretty" then they look in illustrations (excepting Violet, who was described as being pretty in the books), making Klaus look much older than he probably should, and making him no longer need glasses, which would be a vital plot point in the fourth book. Count Olaf's Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender is described as very overweight in the books, but is quite thin in the movie.
In the comics, Batman's butler, Alfred is a balding man who is often stick thin. This version of Alfred is played by Jeremy Irons, who still has a full head of hair and is in better shape.
Suicide Squad (2016) once again sees Amanda Waller get this treatment, as she's played by Viola Davis. While still more slender and attractive than the original heavy-set Waller, she is still closer to her classic appearance compared to her appearances in Arrow and the New 52. Also, even though he's very scruffy and grungy, Captain Boomerang is still handsomer and more youthful-looking than his comic counterpart, who is usually depicted as a very scrawny middle-aged man with a receding hairline.
Wonder Woman (2017) gives us Dr. Poison as a straight example and hard aversion at once. She's played by a lovely actress with an obvious flesh-colored partial mask over her disfigured face, the damage, once revealed, being pretty gnarly but confined to a quarter of her face, making her less ugly and more "pretty but had a thing happen the lower left side of her face." The comic version, on the other hand, is an almost comical-looking Gonk, her wide and bulging eyes and permanently stretched grin (spread your lips away from your teeth as far as you can, past the point where it hurts... now imagine a face frozen like that 24/7.) being about what you'd expect if someone was perpetually about 2/3 of the way through death by Joker venom. However, it turns out that's a mask and her true appearance is quite lovely.note Now, that was the Golden Age version, and as always, DC Comics' reboot addiction means it may or may not be true this week. However, the current comic version looks just like the Golden Age version did when masked.
In Oliver Twist, Nancy is described as "not exactly pretty, perhaps," and was portrayed in George Cruikshank's original illustrations as very plain and heavyset. Most of the actresses who've played her in the various screen adaptations - Kay Walsh, Shani Wallis, Leanne Rowe, Sophie Okonedo, and others – are much more conventionally attractive, as are most who play the role in the stage musical Oliver!
In the book Dr. No, Honey Rider had a broken nose, which Bond was kind enough to pay for plastic surgery to fix in the epilogue. In the film Dr. No, Honey Rider had no such belmish.
The most glaring example is the Barbaric Bully Patrick Hockstetter: described as fat and ugly in the book but played by the tall and handsome Owen Teague in the film (he's still as pyscho as ever, though).
Stuttering Bill Denbrough was handsome in his youth, but the book makes a point of Bill being balding and slighty overweight by the time he's an adult. In the miniseries he's played by the slim Richard Thomas, who has a full head of hair and a ponytail. It: Chapter Two takes it even further by having adult Bill being portrayed by every fangirl's heart-throb James McAvoy.
Subverted with Beverly Marsh. In the book Bev is descibed as a stunningly beautiful redhead, but in the minseries she's portrayed by the more homely and brunette Annette O'Toole and Emily Perkins. The film versions have Sophia Lillis and Jessica Chastain who effectively match the book’s description (though Lillis goes for the Unkempt Beauty route).
Also played with in regards to Ben Hanscom. As a kid it's played straight, as in the book Ben was hugely obese, while Brandon Crane (miniseries) and Jeremy Ray Taylor (films) are just kinda chubby. Subverted as adult in the miniseries as while John Ritter certainly isn't ugly, he isn't the slim and ridicously handsome adult Ben that was described in the book. Jay Ryan, however, pulls it off wonderfully in the film.
Eddie Kaspbrak in the book has a face described like "a drowned water rat", words that don't really apply to Adam Faraizl or Dennis Christopher, and especially notJack Dylan Grazer and James Ransone.
Simarly Richie Tozier, who had buck teeth in the book, is played by normal-toothed Seth Green (miniseries) and Finn Wolfhard (films), both more attractive than the book's description. Zig-zagged with the adult portrayals, as while the miniseries' Harry Anderson’s Richie isn't bespectacled, it's the handsome Bill Hader's portrayal that makes book Richie look like Quasimodo in comparsion.
The titular monster also zig-zags this: Tim Curry, thanks to make up, accurately fits the desciption of the ugly Monster Clown, while Bill Skarsgård can't help but be handsome despite the heavy make up. However Skarsgård still manages to be far more horrifying and replusive than Curry's portrayal, so it's a borderline example.
Katniss Everdeen does not describe herself too flatteringly in the (first person narrative) book of The Hunger Games but Jennifer Lawrence is... well, something of a red hot babe!
...As well as Jena Malone cast as Johanna Mason in Catching Fire!
She repeatedly mentions how ugly Horace Holly is, with people making "Beauty and the Beast" jokes and giving him ape-related nicknames. In film adaptations (including the 1935 film, where he's played by Nigel Bruce, and the 1965 film, where he's played by Peter Cushing), he's never worse than ordinary-looking.
30 Days of Night: The paunchy, late-thirties, happily married main couple of the comics become buff, mid-twenties, and sexily divorced.
In Billie Letts' novel Where the Heart Is, Novalee Nation is described on the first page as "seventeen years old, seven months pregnant, and thirty-seven pounds overweight," and her friend Lexie is described as morbidly obese. Naturally, the film has them played by Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd.
The book describes Wade Watts as a pudgy young man with acne and messy hair. The 2018 film adaptation of Ready Player One (2018) has him played by a slender, clear-skinned, fair-haired Tye Sheridan.
Samantha a.k.a. Art3mis in the book has a dark red birthmark that covers the right side of her face and is a great source of insecurity for her. In the film, it’s way smaller, only covering a small part of her forehead and right eye, is mostly hidden by her hair, and isn’t noticeable under most lighting. Additionally Art3mis is played by the beautiful Olivia Cooke making the whole subplot about her appearance ridiculous.
Inverted with Isaac and Zachry (both played by Tom Hanks), who are significantly less attractive in the film than in the novel.
In-Universe: The movie adaptation of The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish as watched by Sonmi. Tom Hanks plays the look-alike of Cavendish, looking much differently, delivers his famous "criminal abuse" line much more eloquently, and writes his biopic with a early 2000s laptop, while the real Cavendish wrote his with an old-fashioned typewriter.
Parker: In the novel Flashfire, Leslie is a middle-aged blonde Caucasian, running towards plumpness. In the film, she is Jennifer Lopez.
Troy's actor in the film is fat but he's not nearly as unattractive as Troy makes himself out to be. It is, however, possible that Troy is an Unreliable Narrator due to his depression and poor self-esteem.
Curt's actor looks messy and skinny but he's not on the level of Curt in the book. In the book Curt has long, Messy Hair, is emaciated, and looks like crap most of the time.
While Hester Shaw in Mortal Engines does still have a large and nasty scar on her face, it's nowhere near as disfiguring as that of her book counterpart, who is missing one eye and most of her nose.
In A Study in Terror, the victims of Jack the Ripper are all much younger (with the exception of Mary Kelly, the Ripper's victims were all their 40s) and prettier than they were in real life.
In the original novel, Gurney Halleck is described as an "ugly lump of a man" with a disfiguring purple facial scar. In the 1984 film adaptation he was played by future "Sexiest Man Alive" Patrick Stewart and conspicuously scarless. In the 2021 film the role went to Josh Brolin, and while the makeup emphasizes his grizzled ruggedness and gives him some pretty gnarly scars, he is still a far cry from "ugly".
Similarly, Paul's dad Duke Leto Atreides in the book is described having "a narrow face full of angles and planes, with a high-bridged aquiline nose that gave him the look of a hawk" in 1984 film he's played by Jürgen Prochnow who lacks said features and in the 2021 film he's played by Oscar Isaac.
In the novel, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is so morbidly obese that he can barely walk on his own and has to rely on anti-gravity devices to move around. In the 2021 film adaptation, he still has a large paunch, but looks much less heavy than his literary counterpart. He's also portrayed as very tall and broad-shouldered, suggesting that at least some of his massive weight comes from actual muscle rather than pure fat.
Subverted to a degree with Lady Jesscia, in the book and 1984 film (where she's played by Francesca Annis) she's a regal beauty who is desired by Piter and several other males. In the 2021 film Jessica is played by Rebecca Ferguson, who is quite attractive mind you, but like the other Bene Gesserit she's mostly made up in unflattering creepy Sith-esque attire and in general isn't quite as striking described in the book. Possibly this was a play for realism from the filmmakers, given she has a 15 year old son.
The novel White Fang has Beauty Smith, who's described as short and ugly and is even more so the more he abuses White Fang. In the 1991 Disney movie, though, he's played by James Remar, who's definitely a more good-looking guy than Beauty Smith in the novel.
In the original Battle Angel Alita manga, Yugo/Hugo is a teen of 15 at most, kinda scrawny and with a boyish face. In the Live-Action AdaptationAlita: Battle Angel, he's played by Keean Johnson, who's considerably more built and has a certain '90s heartthrob look to him, not too dissimilar from the likes of Jonathan Taylor Thomas. It's particularly evident given this version of Hugo gets a brief Shirtless Scene whereas the original didn't.
Mrs Hubbard is described in the book as stout and plain making the surprise that she’s actually acclaimed actress Linda Arden even greater. In the 1974 film she’s played by Lauren Bacall who is thin, tall and comely, whilst in the 2017 film she’s played by Michelle Pfeiffer. This makes the reveal about her character less shocking in some respects.
M.Bouc is a short, stout elderly man in the book, in the 2017 film he gets a Age Lift and is played by the handsome Tom Bateman. Although to be fair the TV adaptation had a similarly younger Bouc than the book or 1974 film.
Princess Dragomiroff is described as hideous of to the point of gonk in the book. In the 2017 adaptation she’s played by the lovely Judi Dench who while old isn’t the wizened toad Christie describes in the book.
Jacqueline is a compilcated case, in the book she's described as not quite beautiful but certainy striking, being waif-like and comely rather than being outright attractive like Linnet is. The ethereally pretty Mia Farrow from the 1978 film fits that description pretty well. In the 2022 film however Jackie is played by the straight up gorgeous and shapelyEmma Mackey, who manages to equal Linnet (played by the former Miss IsraelGal Gadot) in looks.
Andrew Pennington (renamed Andrew Katchadourian) thanks to getting a Age Lift goes from a older and stuffy Honorary Uncle from the books and prior adaptations, to being a younger and handsome cousin played by Ali Fazal in the 2022 film.
Poirot in general gets this. In the books thanks to Christie considering him a Creator's Pest he has unflattering description being a short and unattractive man with a bald "egg-shaped head". In the 1974 film he's played by Albert Finney who has full dark hair and while no adonis he doesn't match the gonkish book description. In 1978 Death on the Nile and 1982 Evil Under the Sun he's played by Big Beautiful ManPeter Ustinov. In the aforementioned 2017 and 2022 adaptations he's played by Kenneth Branagh who lacks even the signature large gut of the Belgium dectective.
Thirteen Women: In the novel, May and June Raskob are twin sisters who work in a circus, but in the book they are overweight side show attractions, rather than photogenic trapeze artists as in the film.
In a very unconventional way with Daimio's beast mode: in the comics he looked like a viscerally red Animalistic Abomination, while he looks like an average jaguar hybrid man in the movie, who is far less monstrous in comparison. Downplayed with Daimio in his normal self who retains his facial scar, but it's nowhere near as massively disfiguring as in the comics.
Professor Bruttenholm is usually a plain man even in his youth, here he is played by the more Robust and devilishly handsome Ian McShane.
Similarly Sheva and Motaro have inhuman features in the games being from Outworld, in Annihilation however despite being a four armed woman and a horned centuar respectively, they have normal and attractive human faces.
Mileena gets this twice, in most games whlist having a shapely body she has very alarming features with massive sharp teeth and no lips (barring MKX). In Annihilation she has a normal face and mouth and only when she snarls is apparant that she has Scary Teeth. In Mortal Kombat (2021) besides some dirty blood marks on her face (in liu of a face mask) she has normal lips and it's only when she puts her Game Face on that she's frightening. In the game Mileena has a Nightmare Face 24/7.
Kano in the games usually looks like a hairy middle-aged thug, in the 1995 film he's played by the more hunky Trevor Goddard and in the 2021 film he's played by the handsome Josh Lawson.
Aladdin (2019) has several cases compared to the original animated movie. Genie spends much more time in his human form, making him less cartoony and more like, well, Will Smith. Jafar, instead of being old and freakishly thin with a Sinister Schnoz, is younger and more muscular with a handsome face. Even the Sultan of Agrabah is a mild case, being taller, leaner and more dignified than the rotund and silly original.
In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik, traditionally a Fat Bastard with long, thin legs, a bald head, a massive moustache and a red nose, is played by the average-weight Jim Carrey, with a normal nose, a full head of neat hair, and a normal-sized moustache. Subverted in The Stinger, after he's banished to the Mushroom Planet, where he goes mad and shaves his head clean, his nose goes red, and his moustache grows out, making him look more like the classic Eggman. Still nowhere near as fat, though.
In the book and original film of The Witches when the Grand High Witch removes her disguise she is hideous, however in The Witches (2020) when The Grand High Witch as portrayed by Anne Hathaway removes her disguise she is still quite pretty, the only things that make her ugly in a sense is her claw hands, velociraptor like clawed toes and snake like mouth.
In the comics, Morbius looked ugly even as a human, with people making fun of his fiancée behind her back for being with someone as ugly as him. In the movie he's portrayed by Jared Leto. Also — if the trailers are anything to go by — in the movie he looks human but can take on a vampiric appearance; in the comics he's permanently stuck in vamp face.
Cruella: in 101 Dalmatians, Cruella De Ville has a gaunt face and skeletal frame, making her look like an old woman even though she's the same age as Anita (late 20's), and her henchmen Jasper and Horace are both middle-aged and ugly. But in Cruella, she's played by the lovely Emma Stone. Jasper and Horace are also less ugly and around Cruella's age, and Jasper in particular has the roguish bad boy look going on (played by Joel Fry). In Cruella's case this actually makes her more accurate appearance-wise to Dodie Smith's original novel, compared to the animated film.
Popeye: In the comics and cartoons, Popeye is homely, bald, has one eye and no teeth. While Robin Williams' Popeye retains the one eye, he has a full head of hair, a full set of teeth and is better looking than the animated counterpart overall.
The novel Brighton Rock concerns a romance (ofsorts) between two teenagers from an impoverished background. In the book, the boy has bitten-down fingernails and wears a shabby suit, and his face is covered with peach fuzz because he's not shaving yet. The girl is skinny almost to the point of emaciation and has thinning hair. In the 1948 movie, they're played by much more conventionally attractive (as well as Dawson Cast) actors. The girl wears well-applied makeup, and the boy's suit is (though flashy and arguably distasteful) in good repair.
The live-action adaptation of Nana to Kaoru. The short and ugly Kaoru was transformed into an average-height, moderately attractive young man; moreover, the actress playing Nana is shorter.