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doppelgänger actors We look back at Hollywood's most jaw-dropping transformations

Many actors can take a decent stab at playing a famous face - but only the exceptional few can go full doppelgänger

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Lily James as Pamela Anderson.

Lily James as Pamela Anderson.

Brendan Gleeson as Trump

Brendan Gleeson as Trump

Robert Downey Jr as Charlie Chaplin

Robert Downey Jr as Charlie Chaplin

Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson

Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson

Remi Malek as Freddie Mercury

Remi Malek as Freddie Mercury

Singer and actress Day as Jazz singer Billie Holiday

Singer and actress Day as Jazz singer Billie Holiday

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Lily James as Pamela Anderson.

Lily James and Sebastian Stan stunned fans and showbiz pundits alike when the first images of them as Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee surfaced this week.

The resemblance to the real-life characters they're playing was uncanny.

English actress James, in particular, had fans doing a double-take at the first pics of her as Anderson at the height of her stardom.

Set during the 1990s when Anderson was the most famous actress on the planet, Pam & Tommy sees James undergo a jaw-dropping transformation to play the star at a notorious stage of her life.

Directed by Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya) the limited series for Hulu will air later this year and will focus on how the couple's sex tape became the first-ever viral sensation.

It will also tell the story of their colourful relationship, which started with them getting married four days after meeting in 1995.

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James and Stan (left) as Pam and Tommy

James and Stan (left) as Pam and Tommy

James and Stan (left) as Pam and Tommy

As the controversial series prepares to debut, we look at the all-time great on-screen chameleons who can transform themselves into iconic characters.

Many actors can take a decent stab at playing a famous face - but only the exceptional few can go full doppelgänger. And one of the greatest is among Ireland's best-loved actors.

Brendan Gleeson stunned fans last year when the first photos emerged of him looking incredibly like former president Donald Trump in limited series The Comey Rule. Gleeson took on Trump on-screen during a tumultuous period just after he lost re-election. He didn't do any press prior to the show airing, but later said he didn't look at himself on camera during filming as he wanted to play someone "who is used to getting what he wants by hook or by crook.

"I woke up one morning and I kind of felt I really wanted the acting challenge, and I should do it in some fundamental way. I knew this stuff about his public persona; I didn't really understand any more about his private motivations beyond the political," Gleeson said.

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Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana

Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana

Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana

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It wasn't Gleeson's first time embracing a character physically - he was a dead ringer for Winston Churchill when he played the British leader in TV movie Into the Storm back in 2009.

Charlize Theron is another A-lister who can go full chameleon to play well-known people. She nailed the physical looks and presence of top US TV anchor Megyn Kelly in Bombshell last year. The movie centres around a sex harassment scandal at Fox News in 2016.

"It took me a while to wrap my head around playing her for many reasons," said Theron. "But I think the biggest one is that she's so well known. And whether you like her or not, you know her face, you know what she sounds like, and there was really no getting around that."

It wasn't Theron's first time proving her acting chops. She won an Oscar for playing serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster back in 2003. She gained 30lbs, shaved off her eyebrows and wore prosthetic dentures, skin-ageing make-up and contacts to embody the character. Margot Robbie got the opportunity to play controversial skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya - and aced the real-life character in what was one of the best movies of that year.

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Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos

Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos

Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos

In fact, when the first stills for the movie were released, stunned fans didn't recognise the actress who was playing her, and that's exactly how Robbie wanted it. She changed her hair and used braces and mini-prosthetics as part of the transformation.

"I watched for about six months every single thing, every bit of skating, every bit of interview," she said at the time.

"I had her face painted on the inside of my eyelids and her voice just constantly in my head."

More recently, singer and actress Andra Day nabbed an Oscar nomination for her stunning portrayal of Billie Holiday in The United States vs Billie Holiday. It's the story of how the star came under the radar of the FBI after calling out racial lynching in her song Strange Fruit, and is currently on Sky and Now TV.

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Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding

Day smoked and drank gin to nail Holiday's wonderfully gravelly voice in what was astonishingly her first acting performance. "The gravel and the grit in [Holiday's] voice is so much a part of her character," she explained. "Anything I'd do to take care of my voice as a singer, I did the opposite."

She wasn't the only iconic singer to be recently nailed on-screen.

Rami Malek delighted audiences with his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, capturing his appearance but also his movement and quirks in a turn that won him an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody. He was aided by some prosthetic teeth, but Malek learned the singing and dancing too.

"I said :'Listen, if you're going to play a man who [will] rock this thing out like nobody's business, you better own this,'" Malek said at the time.

One of the most popular movie doppelgängers was Robert Downey Jr's fantastic portrayal of Charlie Chaplin way back in 1992. He captured Chaplin's distinctive features but also his knack for comedy sketches, making the man that everybody recognises believable.

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Brendan Gleeson as Churchill

Brendan Gleeson as Churchill

Brendan Gleeson as Churchill

It captivated audiences and won him an Oscar. Downey later joked that legendary director Richard Attenborough told him he thought Tom Cruise would have been perfect for the role. "I s*** you not, he held a picture of Tom Cruise and said, 'That's why he should play Chaplin.' I was like, 'Probably, but he passed, so now what?'"

As well as Lily James's Pamela Anderson, other stars are drawing early buzz in advance of their movies being released.

Early photos for Spencer show Kristen Stewart giving The Crown's Emma Corrin a run for her money. Stewart appears to have made an astonishing transformation into the late royal, with her iconic bob and signature gaze.

With the help of prosthetics, hair and make up, Kenneth Branagh looks to have perfectly captured Boris Johnson in the first still from a forthcoming series. Airing next year, The Sceptred Isle will chronicle the first wave of the Covid pandemic in the UK.

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