Sofia Vergara's transformation into Griselda included lots of makeup and left her with a back injury

Sofia Vergara put in so many hours of prep before playing Griselda that she injured her back

Image of Sofia Vergara at a premiere next to an image of her full make up for Netflix's Griselda
(Image credit: Netflix / Getty)

Sofia Vergara’s transformation into Griselda Blanco marks one of her most significant yet. Thanks to an incredible hair and makeup team, Vergara is almost unrecognisable as the fearless drug boss in the Netflix miniseries, Griselda

After finishing the Netflix series fans are desperate to know more about Griselda's prison sentence and what happened to Griselda's children in real life following their sad end on the show. However, some are more interested to know more about Sofia Vergara's transformation into Griselda Blanco.

Known for her role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on the sitcom Modern Family, Sofia Vergara looks incredibly different in her new role. But fans can't quite work out whether the incredible transformation is down to just makeup or whether prosthetics were involved in transforming the actress. Here's what you need to know...

Sofia Vergara as Griselda in episode 5

(Image credit: Netflix)

Sofia Vergara's makeup and prosthetics in Griselda

To become the Cocaine Godmother, a nickname given to Blanco, 51-year-old Vergara wore five wigs and numerous prosthetics, including a fake nose and fake teeth to reflect the different periods. The transformation into the role was detailed in Netflix's Behind the Scenes "Becoming Griselda" video, with the hair and makeup team erasing Vergara’s signature bold eyebrows by creating prosthetic eyebrow covers with false hairs glued on top. They also used prosthetic nose pieces and fake teeth that were slightly bucked and yellowed to reflect how Blanco’s chain-smoking affected her. 

The transformation of Vergara from Colombian actress to influential drug leader was brought together by makeup and hair department heads Angela Nogaro and Dennis Parker, as well as Vergara’s makeup artist, Todd McIntosh, and hairstylist Kelly Kline. While talking to the Spanish program, El Hormiguero (Antena3), Vergara revealed the transformation took many hours to complete.

Series creator and executive producer Eric Newman noted in the production notes that it took the team a few tries to nail Vergara’s perfect look as Griselda Blanco, as some looks "had been a little too extreme [and] some that perhaps had not been enough." 

Vergara’s hairstylist, Kline, discussed the tests the team went through to get Blanco’s hair right, "Every time we tried to make her hair bigger, it just made her look too beautiful. So every hairstyle is flatter and smaller than it really should be to make her look more real as opposed to just Sofia with a wig." She added that Netflix’s latest crime drama "is not about hair and not about makeup, not about any of that. It’s about the story, and it’s fantastic."

In the role of Blanco, the makeup and hair team helped erase some of Vergara’s image of sensuality and instead used hair and makeup to help depict the different nuances embedded in Blanco’s persona “as a woman, as a mother and, of course, as a drug lord”, says Vergara. She adds in the production notes, “I wanted to challenge myself because Griselda Blanco is such a complex character. She’s not a hero, and many of the things she did were very terrible. But she was also very interesting.”

Sofia Vergara as Griselda in the new Netflix drama

(Image credit: Netflix)

How did Sofia Vergara physically transform into Griselda Blanco?

Vergara’s transformation was so gruelling that she sustained a back injury from being in Blanco’s posture position for six months while preparing for the role. When speaking to the media ahead of the show's premiere, Vergara said, "I put myself in a body position for six months that, the only time that I didn't go to work was because I got up in the morning and my back, I couldn't get up because I was at 50 doing this weird position walking and smoking."

"Now I think I have a problem with a disc from walking like that. I have to go to physical therapy every once in a while because if I forget about it, it comes back. It was fun. I had never done that. But it was difficult," she said.

Speaking to Netflix she also said, "After three months, [it] got me into trouble. I had to get injected in my lower back from walking in this bad position."

"I think I hurt my back now forever. But I thought that the character needed me to change my body. Needed me to use Spanx to try to hold my butt and my boobs and shape my body differently to me and Gloria Pritchett," she concluded.

How did Sofia Vergara mentally prepare for Griselda?

As well as a physical transformation, Netflix’s Griselda marked Vergara’s departure from comedy to drama as she executive-produced the show. Director Andrés Baiz stated that when constructing how Vergara would look as the Colombian cocaine trafficker, they decided, “She had to be different than Sofia, but we shouldn’t imitate Griselda Blanco.” Baiz added that it became important to change any aspect that would give Sofia confidence. "She wanted to feel like a different person, but not to the point where the prosthetics or makeup took over her performance. It had to be subtle", he said.

In the production notes, Vergara also discusses how she wanted to ensure her portrayal was authentic. She spent a long time preparing, “Getting the look correct was very important to me because I needed to disappear. I wanted no one to think of me or my last role as Gloria Pritchett. I wanted to get inside Griselda’s head and really understand her mentality, where she was coming from.”  

Sofia Vergara as Griselda in the new Netflix drama

(Image credit: Netflix)

Controversy around Sofia Vergara’s transformation

Following the release of Griselda, Griselda Blanco's family have expressed their anger at Sofia Vergara's transformation. Speaking exclusively to the Daily Mail, Blanco’s youngest son, Michael Corleone Blanco, called the transformation “disrespectful.” He added, "My mother was a beautiful woman, and it’s crazy that a lot of people say, 'No, you’ve got to look more like a drug addict.'... The fact that they call her 'ugly' really offends me.”

However, Griselda's makeup head, Nogaro, hit back, telling the publication, “Sofia is glamorous in the show, she’s just not as beautiful as she normally is. But she is glamorous - we didn’t make her ugly.”

However, it seems that Nogaro’s words weren’t enough as Michael Corleone Blanco and his wife, Marie Blanco, are now suing executive producer Sofia Vergara and Netflix for “unauthorized use of their family’s image and likeness in the upcoming series.”

Michael is planning to release a book about his mother and is said to have “devoted several years to meticulously documenting the private narratives of his, as well as his mother’s life, with the intention of publishing a book and developing a Spanish soap opera,” according to USA Today.

Liv Facey
Contributing writer

Liv Facey is a freelance multimedia journalist and producer. She dabbles in entertainment, lifestyle, travel and news. She has bylines in a range of publications including The Times, Teen Vogue, Refinery29 and Mashable. When Liv’s not binging the latest TV series, she’s often travelling to new countries, reading or out purchasing new makeup products which she can’t seem to stop buying.