You'd be forgiven for not recognizing Mariah Carey in her role as a dowdy welfare caseworker in the urban drama "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."
The legendary pop diva underwent a soup-to-nuts physical transformation, checking her glossy celebrity patina at the door in order to convincingly portray the film's Ms. Weiss: a drab but deeply empathetic soul helping a troubled teenager in '80's Harlem. Far from the image Carey has cultivated for years, the character is no oil painting of music-video pulchritude, with her lank hair, a wardrobe of rayon sweater-coats and yes, even a sparse mustache creeping across her upper lip.
I had to lose all vanity." Carey said. "I had to change my demeanor, my inside, layers of who I am, to become that woman."
How R&B's most unabashedly glamorous chanteuse came to sport facial hair -- how Carey came to defy all expectations by delivering what some are describing as an Oscar-worthy performance in "Precious" at all -- is one of those quirky sagas upon which indie film-world dreams are made.
Transcending simple stunt casting, the performance strikes a unique dramatic tone, balancing a lived-in physical presence with world-weary empathy.
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