A Look Into Sofia Vergara's Intense Transformation Into Griselda Blanco

Sofia Vergara starred in "Griselda," the Netflix-produced project chronicling the life of Griselda Blanco, a Colombian-born drug lord who resorted to inhumane measures to maintain her power and influence over Miami, Florida. During her active years, Blanco engaged in drug trafficking, kidnapping, and murder before she was shot dead in 2012 at age 69. Vergara's involvement in "Griselda" was first announced in the fall of 2021, and when the final project landed on Netflix in January of 2024, many were blown away by Vergara's intense transformation into the titular role.

Given the intense, physically demanding storylines, the former "Modern Family" cast member went to great lengths to prepare for this role. "Everything was challenging for me," Vergara shared with Billboard. "Mainly the first month because I was trying new things. I had never acted in Spanish or a drama or with prosthetics." Portraying Blanco during a particularly high-stakes episode also proved to be a challenge for Vergara. "It was really hard because Griselda was going all the way down and she's doing drugs, losing her mind a little bit ... And the mood that Griselda was in was exhausting for me. She was killing, screaming, crying. It was a lot," added Vergara about the challenging scene during Episode 5. 

Vergara also underwent an intense physical transformation to convey Blanco's essence — and the process was anything but simple. 

The goal was for Sofia Vergara to not look like herself

Whether you've binged all six episodes of "Griselda" or have just taken a peek at the trailer, you've likely noticed that Sofia Vergara transformed into an entirely new person while filming the project. This was by design, according to "Griselda" producer Eric Newman, who detailed the involved process to The Hollywood Reporter. "We started our makeup process well before we started shooting..." shared Newman, who admitted that he initially worried about placing Vergara under prosthetics because he feared it'd impact her performance. However, he wasn't as concerned with Vergara looking exactly like Griselda Blanco as he was with her not looking like herself. "What we needed was for people to forget they were watching Sofía Vergara," added Newman.

According to Variety, Vergara — who posted a behind-the-scenes clip of her transformation — had to go through three hours of makeup application every day. Vergara's makeup artist, Todd McIntosh, worked hard to bury Sofia underneath Blanco's likeness. Griselda was not a pretty lady," shared McIntosh with the publication. "So, the idea was to take away the things that make [Vergara] pretty and to make her look average. On top of that, tell the story through traditional makeup." Echoing Newman's comments, McIntosh revealed that the goal was to help viewers suspend disbelief. "What we wanted to achieve was not to hide Sofía completely, but to transform her into someone else," said McIntosh.

Kelly Clarkson misspoke about Sofia's transformation

Fans will have to wait until 2025 to know whether the makeup department from "Griselda" will be walking home with any trophies come award season. However, most who have indulged in the drama agree that Vergara successfully embodied Griselda Blanco. Well, that would be almost everyone except for Kelly Clarkson. During a chaotic interview with Vergara, Clarkson implied that her physical transformation was less dramatic than it was. "I feel like they only changed your nose or something. I don't know what they did," Clarkson said. However, Vergara refused to let that slip. "Are you crazy? ... 'No, Kelly, it was hours!" She said before citing the wig, teeth, and prosthetics she wore.

Clarkson may not have noticed the differences between Vergara and onscreen Griselda Blanco, but the actor's process was still labor intensive. "It took us a lot of tests to see different wigs, different noses, different eyebrows," Vergara shared with Digital Spy. "I was nervous about it because I sometimes watch movies and it distracts me a lot to see the wig or something, so I wanted her to look human. Vergara added, "I wanted also to be able to act with all those things that I had on. Because I had fake teeth, I had plastic for my eyebrows. My nose was fake. I would put on the colour of my skin, I would put makeup all over it to feel different."