How Amy Adams and Glenn Close Surprised Everybody with Their Hillbilly Elegy Transformations

Hillbilly Elegy is now available to stream on Netflix

Amy Adams and Glenn Close have gone through their fair share of onscreen transformations over the years but their film Hillbilly Elegy took them both to the next level.

In the Netflix adaptation of J.D. Vance's popular memoir, documenting his harrowing story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town, Adams, 46, plays his volatile, deeply-troubled mother Bev, while Close, 73, plays Bev's no-nonsense mother Mamaw. To accurately portray real-life members of Vance's family, the two actresses altered their own appearances, with Close going so far as to don a prosthetic nose.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, Close recalls surprising crew members on set with her makeup.

"The first time we were all in full drag was for our hair and makeup tests. I decided with my team that we'd go in and I'd have a cigarette hanging out of my mouth," she says. "It was fun. People didn't know it was me. They thought some slightly disturbing person had gotten on the sound stage."

Adams says she was so unrecognizable in the role that she even duped her husband, Darren Le Gallo.

"He came to set one day and I opened up my trailer door and he didn't recognize that it was me for a hot second," she says laughing.

Hillbilly Elegy
Glenn Close and Amy Adams in Hillbilly Elegy. Lacey Terrell/NETFLIX

As for her daughter, Aviana Olea, 10, Adams says "she's so used to me being silly, she just thinks it's just me."

"She gives me a funny look and moves on," says Adams. "I would call her a lot from set during makeup tests and stuff so she'd seen it before she arrived on set. Really, she's less interested in watching the performances than going to craft services. She's there for the Doritos."

  • For more about Amy Adams and Glenn Close, check out this week's issue of PEOPLE.

Both Adams and Close had no qualms with downplaying their looks for the Ron Howard-directed drama.

"I gave up my vanity a long time ago," laughs Adams. "Literally a day and a half ago, my husband did a drawing of me because I was such a hot mess in striped pajama pants, weird t-shirt and Crocs. He was like, 'Wow, we've gone deep.' Not to say that I don't have my moments and it's nice to get dressed up but I've really worked, especially with having a daughter, to not focus on appearance as much as maybe I ought to in my personal life."

Close adds: "I've always chosen to live in places where I wouldn't feel the pressure of having to look a certain way because I just don't like spending that much time on it. West Village in New York and now in Montana, you wear blue jeans. Literally, I look at myself and say, 'You've got to change that shirt. You've been wearing that shirt for five days. But it's a really nice flannel shirt that I got from Murdoch's. Okay, wash it."

Hillbilly Elegy is now available to stream on Netflix.

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