Celebrities Who Were Unrecognizable 10 Years Ago

When people attach themselves to celebrities, it's often not just their art they are hoping to follow but the sum of their life events, too. As do we all, famous personalities go through ever-changing journeys; the one big difference is that while the average individual transforms privately, a celebrity is predisposed to evolve in the public eye. Teen idols like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, for instance, have done much of their growing up on the world stage, with fans attempting to stay attuned to both their physical and emotional transformations over the years. According to Dr. Tara Thiagarajan, the chief scientist at Sapien Labs, easier access to celebrities' lives in the digital age has only exacerbated the attention around them, especially among the younger generations. "One can get constant information about them with social media, which makes people feel they 'know' them," said Dr. Thiagarajan (via Newsweek). 

Oftentimes, celebrities themselves engage fans with their personal lives using social media platforms, keeping interest piqued with before-after comparisons, throwbacks, and new milestones. In such a scenario, one is compelled to assess how far their favorite celebrity has come in their journey from, say, a decade ago. In a span of 10 years, many celebrities have changed to unrecognizable extents, either with regard to their appearance or public image. Through it all, their fan bases have remained loyal and swelling, celebrating every landmark that defines the icons they love.

Taylor Swift

Over a period of one decade, Taylor Swift's life seems to have somewhat come full circle. Though the pop legend has churned out fantastic new (obviously sensational) work in the past few years, it is her return to her earliest works that seems to be the highlight of her career at the moment. She went back to re-recording oldie, goldie hit albums like "Fearless" and "Speak Now," releasing her classics as Taylor's Version in a bid to recover agency over her early music, the master recordings of which now belong to music exec Scooter Braun. Even as she was embroiled in a feud with Braun, Swift lavished a string of new albums (even surprise albums) on her army of loyal Swifties between 2019 and 2023. As she put it to Rolling Stone: "The bad stuff was really significant and damaging. But the good stuff will endure."

Swift changed from a teen idol to a contemplative celebrity over the years — especially in the face of the ever-constant publicity around her romantic life and disputes with fellow artists like Kanye West. What remained constant though, was her iconic red pout. Swift may have transformed her artistry as she transitioned into adulthood but her style quotient — with that familiar blonde fringe and figure-hugging shorts — followed its signature trajectory. Though she switched out her country girl curls long ago, Swift briefly returned to her rustic roots in 2020 with the idyllic picturization of her pandemic albums "Evermore" and "Folklore."

Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill's early career flourished in the comedy genre but by 2013, he hit the sweet spot with a fine balance of humorous and serious films. On the one hand, he starred in the ensemble comedy "This Is the End" with a cohort of Hollywood funnymen, and on the other, he made a cinematic splash alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the critically acclaimed "The Wolf of Wall Street." The latter earned him an Oscar nomination, testifying to his diversified acting chops. "I just made a conscious effort to do different things instead of the same thing over and over again, which people will get tired of anyways, as would I," he told The Guardian in 2014.

Over the next decade, Hill seemingly tried to stay true to his claim, branching out into different kinds of films, from the biographical drama "War Dogs" to the rom-com "You People." Not just his acting journey, Hill's appearance also drastically transformed over the decade. The actor, who had long been the target of fat jokes and body-shaming, dropped several pounds with consistent effort through the years. "I don't think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid 30s even in front of family and friends," he shared once on Instagram (via ABC News). Though his weight remained the subject of hot discussion, Hill rarely gave the topic any airtime in interviews and media interactions, asking people to refrain from talking about his body.

Chris Pratt

10 years ago, Chris Pratt was hardly the dreamboat that he would later come to be regarded as. That is not to say that he wasn't as well-loved by fans as any television star could be at the time. His portrayal of Andy Dwyer in "Parks and Recreation" set him up as one of the sweetest, most beloved characters on the sitcom — and his own personal favorite it seems. Once, when asked by a fan about the role that brought him the most joy, Pratt invoked his famous television alter ego, saying he "loved everything about it" (via Bustle). In the next few years, Pratt's appeal among the public increased exponentially as he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Star-Lord.

This significant turn in his career came with strenuous physical prep as Pratt worked hard to get his body to look like the superheroes he had idolized since childhood. "It's what I appreciated most as a kid and it was what was most important to me in approaching this role — so I tried to get my body to look as much like those guys as I could," he told Pursuitist. The transformation entailed a protein-heavy diet and long hours in the gym for nearly seven months. Pratt emerged on the other side a fitter, leaner version of his old self that hasn't stopped working out. The change wasn't all physical; Pratt revealed that his journey enabled better mental health and helped combat issues of depression (per People).

Khloe Kardashian

A decade ago, Khloe Kardashian was in the midst of restoring her identity following her split from her husband of four years, L.A. Lakers champ Lamar Odom. TMZ reported that the youngest of the Kardashian sisters initiated the divorce, refused spousal support, and removed her ex's name from hers. Kardashian's reality television stint — her launchpad to stardom — was still continuing, with the latest ones at the time being her "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" spinoffs with her sister, Kourtney Kardashian. It was also when Kardashian worked on her physique and brought her weight down by 40 pounds. "There would always be this attention on Kourtney and Kim, but I was too much work for [stylists] or they had nothing in my size," she told Harper's Bazaar about the fashion industry's skewed standards for women's sizes.

Fast forward 10 years later, she couldn't look more Kardashian with her cinched waist, high cheekbones, and sharp jawline. Though Kardashian's transformation had been several years in the making, she exhibited her changed form to the world most dramatically at the Met Gala 2022, where she showed up in a figure-hugging golden gown. Designer Jeremy Scott, who dressed Kardashian for her debut at the fashion event, said on "The Kardashians" that the socialite was "skinnier than the models who would do the show" (via Daily Mail). Though her absence from Met Gala 2023 was widely noted, Instagram remains a steady outlet for her to flaunt her killer abs and changing styles.

Seth Rogen

One decade ago, Seth Rogen was on a roll. He waded into film direction with the 2013 multi-starring apocalypse comedy "This Is the End," winning much praise for his debut. "I think a lot of the movie is playing off the expectations of who we are as people, so we kind of wanted the friends to either play into that or against it," he explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. His second directorial ruffled quite a few feathers. North Korea was not pleased by Rogen's portrayal of the country in "The Interview" and issued a threat against the United States, with the incident also prompting a hack at Sony Pictures. Reflecting on the controversy 10 years later, Rogen said on the "Hawk vs Wolf" podcast that the event gave him a fresh perspective: "If someone is getting mad about it on social media, that's not controversy."

In recent years, Rogen hasn't shied away from experimenting with his newfound passion for pottery, as with his physical appearance. He dropped several pounds and at one point in 2021, shaved off his trademark scraggly beard and curly hair to post an unrecognizable look of himself on Instagram. "New hair, same smoldering look," he captioned the picture, which was received with much fanfare from Rogen's industry friends. Ironically, bushy-hair Rogen wasn't always recognizable, too! His everyman look gave him anonymity: "Before the pandemic, I would wander around L.A. aimlessly without anyone taking pictures of me," he told The New York Times.

Ariana Grande

A lot has changed in the past decade for Ariana Grande — save for that iconic high ponytail. Around 2013, the ex-Nickelodeon icon was making the transition from television artist to pop star. After "Victorious" wrapped up, Grande released her first album "Yours Truly" which topped the charts around the world. "I started in musicals because I wanted to sing. I never liked acting. I auditioned for TV to get a platform to get a record deal," she told Complex at the time. While she had already retired her iconic red locks and opted for brunette shades, Grande began inventing her style in the way that the world would come to be familiar with it a decade later. Co-ord sets and mini dresses became Grande staples, loved by her ever-growing fanbase.

By 2020, Bloomberg had labeled Grande "the biggest pop star in the world." Her meteoric rise across platforms earned her multiple awards and recognitions, including two Grammys. Parallel to her music, Grande's romantic life remained a constant subject of public attention, which peaked when her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller died of a drug overdose in 2018. It was just one of many tragic headlines surrounding Grande's life at the time, such as the suicide bombing at her concert in England that left many deaths and casualties. Following the 2017 incident, she told Vogue: "I'm a person who's been through a lot and doesn't know what to say about any of it to myself, let alone the world."

Miley Cyrus

The transformation of Miley Cyrus has perhaps been one of the most noticeable evolutions in the music industry in the last decade. By 2013, she had shed her teen pop image and graduated to a risqué version of herself that was radically divergent from her smiley-Miley days at Disney. After "Bangerz" — which prominently featured the scandal-courting song "Wrecking Ball" — the world reckoned with Cyrus' adult sensibilities. Scant outfits, cropped hair, and naughty moves (remember the infamous VMAs finger foam episode?) became Cyrus' trademarks. She reveled in it, blocking out the haters. "When I do things that would get someone old to shake their head, my fans go ape s**t," she told Elle. "And I'm honored to be that girl that gets people out of their comfort zone."

Thereon, a string of reinventions followed. Cyrus walked the balance between rocking it out on stage with some rather extravagant personas and allocating enough time for philanthropical efforts toward social causes. The "Hannah Montana" alum also opened up about her sexuality, as unwavering coverage about her long-term relationship with ex-husband Liam Hemsworth continued to dominate headlines. Fan attention around the couple was frenzied and unwavering through the years, reaching dizzying heights when Cyrus released her modern chart-smashing magnum opus "Flowers," which is widely believed to contain references to Hemsworth. "The song is a little fake it till you make it, which I'm a big fan of," she explained to British Vogue, not indulging the speculation about her love life.

Zac Efron

For Zac Efron, life seems to have turned around for the better since 2013. The former Disney star was then emerging from the throes of substance addiction with the help of rehabilitative facilities. "I was drinking a lot, way too much," he opened up to The Hollywood Reporter nearly a year after going sober. "I mean, you're in your 20s, single, going through life in Hollywood, you know? Everything is thrown at you." A decade later, the "High School Musical" heartthrob still has his sobriety in an embrace and is happier for it. "What I found is structure. That led me to a balance of opposites: You get out of life what you put in," he ruminated to Elle. That said, 2013 wasn't the easiest year for Efron for other reasons, too — one of them being a near-death experience he faced.

The ex-teen icon apparently took a major fall near his home that year, leading to a severely wounded jaw that demanded serious medical attention. Efron "almost died," he told ET Online, simultaneously shrugging off the plastic surgery rumors that had gripped the internet in the aftermath of the actor's altered appearance. The background noise didn't deter Efron from reinventing himself as a noteworthy big-screen star with well-received films like "Neighbors" and "The Greatest Showman." In what was perhaps the most dramatic departure from his Troy Bolton image, Efron stepped into the shoes of Ted Bundy in a 2019 biography about the serial killer.

Rebel Wilson

There has always been an easy charm and relatability to Rebel Wilson that has kept the actor at the top of her game for years. Be it the series of comedies she did around the 2010s or her beloved Fat Amy character from the "Pitch Perfect" franchise, Wilson navigated the fast lanes of Hollywood with the confident self-reliance that audiences so love. While the discourse on Wilson's comedic penchant for fat jokes has been limitless, the funny woman remained unabashed about her choices. "As long as I look like this, I'm going to make fat jokes," she explained in an interview in 2013, hailing the diversity of body sizes on-screen (via Cosmopolitan). 

Nearly a decade after those remarks, Wilson underwent a significant transformation that involved dropping about 80 pounds — a change, she said, occurred in pursuit of a milestone decision concerning fertility. "It was just being the healthiest version of myself," she told People, recalling advice from her doctor with whom she discussed the possibility of embracing motherhood in the future. She welcomed a daughter via surrogate in 2022. 

She began her health journey in 2020 and her subsequent appearances on the red carpet prompted dramatic reactions from fans of the star. Though she confessed to being treated differently by people after losing weight, Wilson seems to love herself just the same and is ever the champion of body positivity as she always was. Her mantra is "to celebrate all body types" with a focus on health.

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle has experienced a lot in the last decade. She went from being that American "Suits" star to that rebel royal whose clash with the British monarchy rocked the world. Before 2016, Meghan was a household name in the small screen sphere, best known for her episodic appearances in some of television's most popular shows, from "90210" to "CSI: Miami." Her relationship with flashing lights and media attention was positive, as was her enthusiasm for public events. In an interview with Marie Claire, she professed her love for acting — in the process, making an ironic prediction of royally bigger things to come. "That's the fun part of our job — to be able to play dress up, and to really throw yourself into something you otherwise wouldn't." 

Her life took that turn in 2016 when she linked arms with the British monarchy's most notorious scion, Prince Harry. Her closeness with the noble family prompted changes in Meghan's wardrobe, the way she carried herself, and how she interacted with the public as a royal-to-be guided by protocol. Bold lips, smokey eyes, and all-black outfits that Meghan enjoyed indulging in, per Glamour, were passé. Following her wedding in 2018, greater revolutionary changes transpired — from her fraught relations with the British press to the alleged racism that clouded the royal family's relationship with their daughter-in-law. Meghan went from a universally agreeable television star to an ex-royal to a globally polarizing figure, all within a decade.

Nick Jonas

Talk about a wholesome glow-up! The past decade did much to put Nick Jonas into the spotlight again, as the singer shed his early boyish charms to settle into the skin of a muscled hunk. He grew in age without compromising on his clean, nice-guy image that has always characterized his persona. Save for that unforgettable 2014 photoshoot (via Out) that had the former purity-ring-wearing teen icon scandalously clutching at his member through a pair of Calvins. Jonas at the time was on the edge of his solo career that gradually melded back into his brotherly boy band triad with a much-awaited reunion in 2019. 

Jonas, though still a symbol of nostalgia through his eternal Jo Bros membership, also began appealing to another demographic that was taken by more than just his music. His intense workout sessions and ripped frame that made it to social media left netizens sweating (and wanting more). He reflected in Men's Journal about his heavyweight training balanced with his diabetic condition: "I'm always cautious about the food I put in my body." The "Chains" singer also changed tack, by switching out his unsteady boyfriend status to commit as a husband to actor Priyanka Chopra in 2018. His marriage unleashed a whole other genre of Jonas mania in India, Chopra's home country that the pair often visits. The two became parents in 2022. 

Kylie Jenner

Any acknowledgment of celebrity transformations is incomplete without a mention of Kylie Jenner. A decade ago, she was a teenager clutching the fringes of reality TV fame that belonged to her older siblings in the Kardashian-Jenner clan. "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and its many spinoffs had given Jenner's public life a kickstart, and to see her on red carpets, modeling shoots, and magazine covers was no biggie by the time she was a teen. Behind the curtains, the picture wasn't always as rosy as people believed. "I feel like when you're in front of the cameras ... you're most cautious about everything and there's not a lot of room for mistakes," Jenner revealed during an interview with Ryan Seacrest (via YouTube).

In a span of 10 years, Jenner has managed to attain (and more importantly, maintain) unthinkable heights of popularity, wealth, and excess by establishing herself as a beauty mogul heading a billion-dollar empire. In 2019, Forbes formidably crowned her "the youngest self-made billionaire ever" at just 21. The Kylie labels spanned across several industries from cosmetics to baby care. The latter venture materialized following Jenner's own experience with motherhood with the birth of Stormi Webster in 2018. She welcomed a second child, Aire, with Travis Scott in 2022. Beyond her social and financial status, Jenner's appearance has transformed over the decade, too. Her lips are fuller, her curves are quintessentially Kardashian, and her makeup is (somehow) never out of place. 

Rainn Wilson

Rainn Wilson's transformation over the decade hasn't been dramatic but just enough to make fans of "The Office" feel old. Dwight Schrute continues to be a sensation, despite the successful sitcom having bowed out of the small screen a decade ago. Since Wilson's legacy is dominated by his famous television alter-ego, it understandably comes as a surprise to fans that his filmography extends far beyond — despite his humble admission to The Guardian that: "I'm never going to be Josh Brolin no matter how much I want it." Over the last 10 years, Wilson has made appearances in screen and voice roles across many mediums. The sober characters he played, as in "Shimmer Lake," were in stark contrast to his portrayal of one of television's favorite nerds

Perhaps the most viral acknowledgment of a 10-year change in Wilson came in 2023 when, during a flight, a passenger watching Wilson's magnum opus failed to register that his seat neighbor was actually the actor on his screen. Wilson shared the video alongside the caption: "When the person sitting next to you has no idea who you are ... " After the incident captured the internet's imagination, Wilson gave a follow-up narration of how the passenger eventually recognized him when he dramatically lowered his mask. On "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," the star described the moment as "one of those face-melting brain explosions" (via YouTube). Considering we're not used to seeing him without a tie, it's an honest mistake!


From her days as a Disney teen queen to her association with Oscar-nominated films, Zendaya's career has taken quite an upward leap in the last decade. Her initial fame launched her as a regular on youth pop circuits, with productions like "Shake It Up" and "Frenemies," in addition to her music singles, bringing her to public notice in a big way. But bigger things lay in wait for the actor-singer. In 2017, the then-21-year-old Zendaya scored a place among the lead cast of Marvel's star-studded feature "Spider-Man: Homecoming," playing MJ alongside her to-be beau Tom Holland. "I think a lot of people look at me in a certain way because I've been on the Disney Channel a long time. ... I wanted to wait for the right thing," she told Variety at the time. 

Playing among the big league and enjoying greater social stature also had an evident effect on the way Zendaya's public image was perceived by audiences. She was no longer the girl with the toothy sweetheart smile; Zendaya the film star also knew how to smolder the camera with a single look. "Euphoria" and "Dune" only cemented her upswing. As an older artist, Zendaya also developed a sensibility for the kind of work she was keen on pursuing. "They'd usually serve the purpose of helping the male character get to where they need to go," she told GQ about not being satisfied with scripts devoid of a meaningful arc for the women part of the narrative.

Kristen Stewart

10 years ago, Kristen Stewart was still basking in the conflicted glory of her Bella Swan alter-ego. The "Twilight" series was her launchpad to stardom but one didn't have to look too hard to discern the awkwardness in her demeanor (manifested vividly via her famous high school character). "I feel like I'm looking at a college yearbook. ... I don't jump right back into those memories," she said on The Ellen Show, a few years after putting the vampire fantasy franchise behind her. For Stewart, who has faced the camera since childhood, an image revamp involved more than just a change in the kind of films she opted to do. Stewart completely revised her identity and creativity.

"Did you think I was going to do 'Twilight' forever?" she quipped to The New Yorker in response to public opinion about her. In her post-Robert Pattinson era, Stewart dove into the indie film scene, starring in a string of moderately received titles until she hit pay dirt with "Seberg" and "Spencer" — the latter won Stewart her first Oscar nomination. Parallely, she established herself as a queer icon, notably questioning the gendered legacy of red-carpet rules of dressing. By 2018, she was kicking off her heels on the Cannes red carpet, while sharp pantsuits became a wardrobe staple. Stewart's reformation has been perfectly complemented by her ever-changing hair that switches between cut, color, and chop with abandon. Bella Swan could never! 

Zayn Malik

As he progressed with age, Zayn Malik went from being an effusive pop heartthrob to a bearded, tatted hunk. His new appearance — subject to constant changes, especially experiments with the abundant crop on his head — is consistent with the prototype of the "bad boy" charm he years ago claimed to possess. "I am a bit of a bad boy. I have tattoos and I mess around. That's part of my image, so it's cool," he told Seventeen when he was still one-fifth of the boy band One Direction. Since leaving the band that launched him to stardom, Malik's physical maturity ran parallel to the maturing of his music. 

The soundtrack to his solo venture, pursued under the mononymic Zayn, is defined by tunes that are heavier, more soulful, and definitely more sensuous than his teenybopper-catering music from back in the day. "Pillowtalk" — the video which featured Malik and Gigi Hadid in NSFW settings — is an exceptional case in point. Aside from his signature chameleonic hairstyles, which have ranged from bleached buzzcuts to grey and pink tips, Malik also embraced more permanent changes in his life.

In 2020, he became a father with the birth of his first child with Hadid, however, controversies surrounding the singer peaked a year into fatherhood. He was involved in a highly-publicized breakup with Hadid amid claims of an alleged physical altercation he had with her mother, Yolanda Hadid. He was charged with four counts of harassment, TMZ reported.


Adele had already touched hysterical heights of fame a decade back. With her string of chart-topping hits like "Skyfall" and "Rolling in the Deep," her mezzo-soprano pitch had won over critics at the Grammys, Oscars, and Golden Globes, as well as amassed a global army of devotees, all by 2013. She even managed to squeeze in a break between her consistently thriving career, only to return with new musical records and newer sensations like "Hello." Her fresh music seemed to be a revelation, as much to herself as to her audience. "I was very sad and very lonely. Regardless of being a mom or a girlfriend, I didn't want to feel like that again," she told i-D Vice, talking about her older work. 

Besides her flourishing career, Adele's personal life also buzzed with activity. She got into a short-lived marriage with her long-time partner Simon Konecki, with whom she has a son. "After going through a divorce, my requirements are sky-high. There's a very big pair of shoes to fill," she told Vogue, detectably surer about her independence and happiness. Not just emotionally, Adele also transformed physically during this period, surprising fans with a slim silhouette as seen in her birthday picture from 2020 that went viral. The process of losing about 100 pounds was driven by her anxiety. "Working out, I would just feel better. It was never about losing weight," she said, confessing to becoming somewhat of a fitness nut capable of working out thrice a day.

Willow Smith

As far as youth icons go, Willow Smith appears to be leading the club in no small way. Though born to famous Hollywood parents — Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith — the youngster has carved a niche of her own that straddles everything from music to open conversations about identity and issues of personal importance. By the time she was a teenager, she had already marked her place as an artist worth looking out for with appreciated singles like "Whip My Hair" and "21st Century Girl." And music has continued to remain a big part of her persona. "Music has my heart. She's got me by the ovaries," as worded by Smith to NME — supplemented by utterances older than her years that Smith began dishing to the public.

Consider this for instance: "People are just humans, and humans are complex and beautiful creatures who deserve to be creative and to be respected and loved," Wise Willow told The Guardian. A major exhibit of her sensibilities came with "Red Table Talk," an award-winning talk show she began hosting in 2018 that also features her mother and grandmother. Deep dives into personal accounts of mental health are a big part of Smith's show, with the singer openly discussing her experiences with anxiety and early fame. As bold as she is about living out loud, she is also not averse to experimenting with styles and appearances. She's worn her hair short, shaved, dread-locked, and fringed; she's a personified statement!