There have been some pretty impressive on-screen transformations over the years, from Charlize Theron's performance as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster to Brad Pitt's anti-ageing Benjamin Button in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Christian Bale's super bulk-up before filming Batman Begins.

But one actress you're unlikely to have heard much about, Francesca Curran, couldn't be more different from her on-screen persona in real life. Curran, 24, plays the invitingly named Skinhead Helen in Netflix's hit drama-comedy Orange is the New Black, otherwise known as Helen Van Maele, an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary who is a member of the white pride movement, a group of far-right white supremacists.

Fortunately, the 24-year-old actress, who lives in New York but was born in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA, seems a lot more down to earth and less 'I want to stab people'-y than the character she portrays in the popular television show. As you might expect, Skinhead Helen is a skinhead and has a number of tattoos on her face and neck, including 100% and a number of inked stars around her eyes.

"In real life, I'm so feminine," Curran said. "I'm so girly. I love my makeup, I love my jewelry and all that; so to really be stripped of all that... The first time I was like, okay, wow. I found myself in the mirror and was like, this is a striking... what a difference."

What a difference indeed. Images broadcast from her Instagram account show Curran smiling, having hair and, perhaps most importantly, not having lots and lots of facial and neck tattoos.

The Minnesotan was introduced to the show in its fourth season (Orange Is The New Black season five is now streaming on Netflix) and while the star's tattoos on her left eye may be completely fake, the actress does have to go around with a proper skinhead in day-to-day life, wearing a variety of wigs in her own time as a result.

The series has received 16 Emmy Award nominations (winning four), making stars out of its cast, though Curran is able to avoid this by having the haircut of Edward Furlong's character in American History X rather than a budding A-lister. Swings and roundabouts.

Shots taken from Curran's Instagram show the actress highly excited for the programme's fifth season and also a dab hand with a hashtag, with #HelenNeedsAnHourAtTheMACCounter and #AFaceTatADayKeepsTheDoctorAway among the lengthier, more nonsensical Insta offerings.

If anything, Curran's transformation from off-screen Funtime Felicity to utter nutter Skinhead Helen is a testament to the handywork of make up artists the world over. And god knows they deserve some credit, shafted as they are by every awards ceremony the world over and put right at the beginning. Go team!

Words: Ronan O'Shea

Featured Image Credit: Instagram

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