It’s hard to tell if what you’re watching onscreen is real or imagined. These actresses have pushed the limits of make-believe, playing geeky characters onscreen but being anything but geeky looking when they hit the red carpet. From blockbuster films to iconic TV dramas, these women have turned in performances that made the world believe they had much more in common with their nerdy alter egos than they really did. Here, we count down 15 nerdy characters who are absolutely stunning in real life. So, who made the list? Let’s take a look…
Elisabeth Moss As Peggy Olson
As the quietly ambitious, ahead-of-her-time secretary turned copywriter Peggy Olson in AMC’s critically acclaimed drama Mad Men, Elisabeth Moss played one of the most notable television characters of the last decade. Before Mad Men, she had appeared in a number of notable films, including Girl Interrupted and Listen Up Phillip, but playing Peggy Olson was undoubtedly her breakout role as she was nominated for six Emmy Awards for her work on the show. As Peggy grew over the course of the series, we also got to see a new side to Moss, who was fantastic playing a more adventurous and in-control version of Peggy. Moss went on to shed Peggy’s image completely, following up Mad Men with acclaimed roles in Top of The Lake and The Handmaid’s Tale, for which she finally won an Emmy in 2017 for Lead Actress in A Drama Series.
Alyson Hannigan As Willow Rosenberg
Hannigan famously played not one but two nerds in the 1990s and early 2000s. Her breakout role came on the critical darling Buffy The Vampire Slayer, where Hannigan co-starred for seven seasons as mousey-nerd-turned-powerful-witch Willow Rosenberg. In 1999, she played naughty band geek Michelle Flaherty in American Pie, which spawned three additional sequels in 2001, 2003, and 2012. As her characters in both Buffy and American Pie matured, audiences saw a more serious side of Hannigan – and a sexier and much darker side, on Buffy. Hannigan’s ability to play so many roles has led to a lasting career; she went on to star as Lily Aldrin for nine seasons on the wildly successful How I Met Your Mother. It’s safe to say that Hannigan has been able to shed her original nerdy image.