15 actresses who shaved their heads for a role: Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and more

Anya Taylor-Joy, who is set to play Furiosa in the 'Mad Max: Fury Road' prequel, wants to join the ranks of women who’ve lopped off their locks for a part

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To immerse themselves in their roles, many stars set about drastically changing their appearance, with losing or gaining weight becoming a rite of passage for actors looking to go deeper into a character.

While men and women change their body shapes for parts, when it comes to shaving their heads for a role, it remains more surprising when an actress chooses to lop off her locks.

The latest star wishing to go super-short is Anya Taylor-Joy. The actress, who recently won the role of Furiosa in a prequel about the freedom fighter made famous by Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road, is said to want to shave her head as Theron did for the role.

“She wants to, but [director] George [Miller] doesn’t want her to,” Jenny Beavan, the costume designer for Furiosa, revealed. “So, I don’t know whether she will or not.”

With Taylor-Joy chomping at the clippers to ditch her trademark long blonde hair, here are 15 actresses who shaved their heads for their roles …

Tilda Swinton

That wasn’t a bald wig Tilda Swinton was wearing to play the Ancient One in 2016’s Doctor Strange, the British actress really did shave all her hair off to inhabit the role.

Opting to keep her bald head a secret until the film’s trailer was released, the Oscar winner said she thought “it would be such fun if people don’t know anything”.

Cara Delevingne

The model-turned-actress shaved her hair off for her role in the film, Life in a Year.

Playing a woman with cancer who is given one year to live, Delevingne told Elle: “Before I even got the project, I said to the director, 'I want to shave my head for it.' My agents and managers were like, 'Please don't! Why would you do that?’”

Cate Blanchett

The Australian actress dug out the clippers for her role in the 2002 film, Heaven.

“Shaving off my hair is so liberating,” she told The Daily Telegraph. “I had to do it once for a film role, but I’ve done it periodically too.”

Joey King

The actress has shaved not once but three times for different roles. Most recently, she received a Golden Globe and Emmy nomination for her role as Gypsy Blanchard in the biopic, The Act.

Shaving her head to play the troubled teen, King told Allure: "I've never really had an attachment to my hair. I couldn't care less what happens to it. So many people would ask me, 'Are you really scared?' or 'Are you nervous?' or say, 'You're so brave.' And I'd go, 'I'm not brave. I'm just cutting my hair off.'"

Demi Moore

One of the most famous head-shavings in cinema was carried out on-camera by Demi Moore in the 1997 action film, GI Jane.

The film is about a woman who joins the male-only US Navy Seal training programme. The actress took a set of clippers to her hair as director Ridley Scott filmed.

Karen Gillan

The Scottish actress agreed to shave for her role as Nebula in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

“I was told even before I auditioned that the actress who got this would have to shave her head, and I didn’t think I was going to get it. So I was like, ‘Absolutely, I will shave my head! Sure,’” she said. “Then three screen tests later, it was ‘Oh God, this might actually happen.’”

Olivia Cooke

The actress ditched her mane to portray a leukaemia patient for the indie film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

Cooke credited having her head shaved with helping her be more authentic. “It was the best thing I did to get into character and to feel all of the emotions I was supposed to be feeling at the time.”

Sigourney Weaver

Another famous cinematic head-shaving came courtesy of Sigourney Weaver’s famous character, Ellen Ripley, in Alien 3.

The alien-fighting warrant officer revealed her shaved head in the third instalment of the successful franchise, which had her stranded on a prison spaceship.

“I think it brings out the faces and the vulnerability of these actors very much,” she said of her and her fellow cast mate’s shorn locks.

Charlize Theron

The South African actress has sported a pixie crop during her career, but she went full-on shaven-headed for her role as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Playing the fearless heroine in the film, which also starred Tom Hardy, Theron said of lopping off her locks: “I highly recommend it. I think every woman should do it.”

Persis Khambatta

The former Miss India-turned-actress paved the way for going above and beyond for a role, and was among the first women in modern cinema to shave their heads for a part.

Khambatta went fully bald for her role as Ilia in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Kristen Stewart

The Oscar-nominated actress shaved her head for her part in indie film, Underwater.

She later revealed that getting a buzz cut made sense on a practical level because she was wearing a diving helmet for much of the film.

“I'm not going to be able to have touch-ups once I put the helmet on, so I must shave my head," she told The Today Show.

Amandla Stenberg

The Hunger Games actress had zero regrets about shaving their hair off for their role in When Hands Touch, about a biracial teen living in Nazi Germany.

"Shaving my head was wild,” Stenberg wrote in an essay about the experience. “I felt a sense of complete neutrality. It was so freeing.”

Natalie Portman

Like Demi Moore, Portman decided to undergo her head-shaving onscreen while the cameras were rolling. The actress had her hair cut off to play Evey Hammond in the 2006 film V for Vendetta.

"I was really excited to get to shave my head — it's something I'd wanted to do for a while and now I had a good excuse," she said. "It was nice to shed that level of vanity for a girl."

Kate Hudson

The actress reached for the clippers to play the character Zu in Music, the first film from singer-songwriter Sia.

Hudson later revealed that Sia, and Hudson’s son, Bingham, then aged 6, cut her hair.

Millie Bobby Brown

The British actress was only 12 when she had her head shaved to play Eleven in the Netflix hit, Stranger Things.

The young star later called the experience “the most empowering moment of my whole life”.

Updated: June 23, 2023, 12:12 PM