Vanessa Hudgens makes a drastic transformation as she chops her locks and piles on the pounds for upcoming teen drama Gimme Shelter.

Vanessa Hudgens Gimmie Shelter
Vanessa cut her hair to play Apple

The 25-year-old 'High School Musical' star is set to truly establish herself as a serious, grown-up actress by ironically playing a 16-year-old girl. Apple is a poverty stricken young woman struggling to cope with her life having been in and out of foster homes due to neglect from her drug-addicted mother (played by Rosario Dawson). After seeking out her rich, estranged father and his family, she tries to make a life with him, but she's less than welcome when she discovers that she's pregnant and thus finds her way to a refuge specifically for pregnant teenage girls.

To get into the right mindset, Vanessa and director/writer Ron Krauss lived at the Several Sources Shelter, New Jersey for a time, learning about the girls there and their guardian Kathy DiFiore. 'Gimme Shelter' is based on the trials and tribulations of the real life Apple and her subsequent salvation at the hands of DiFore, who is played by Ann Dowd in the movie.

Watch the trailer for 'Gimme Shelter' here:

Playing a real character took a big transformation from Vanessa, who sacrificed her body and gained 15 pounds for the role in order to look pregnant - not that it bothered her. 'I love pushing boundaries and challenging myself', she told USA Today. 'I love the idea of transformation and being a chameleon.'

She explained that the opportunity was 'exactly what I needed' after a tough break-up and a need for self-discovery, and there were things about Apple that she felt she could relate to. 'Apple goes through a metamorphosis, and I had just gotten my butterfly tattoo. It just really hit home', she reveals. 

Vanessa HudgensVanessa Hudgens in 'Gimmie Shelter'

The movie is set for release in the US on January 24th 2014.