Movie makeup artists are perhaps the unsung heroes of Hollywood. As cinema goers and critics focus their collective attention on exciting new technologies such as CGI, the art of makeup and prosthetics has gone grossly under-appreciated in recent years. The talents of Hollywood’s makeup artists are responsible for some of cinema’s most memorable characters, and so with that in mind, lets take a look at some of the most stunning transformations made possible by movie makeup.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper
Looper, which hit our screens in 2012, is a mind-bending time-travel thriller in which Joseph Gorden-Levitt plays a hired gun, ordered to shoot subjects which are sent to him from thirty years in the future. Bruce Willis plays the future Joseph Gorden Levitt; not the most visually matched pair on paper. So, how did artists Jamie Kelman and Kazuhiro Tsujin make the pair look alike? Well, three hours of make-up a day to add a prosthetic nose and cheekbones, and dozens of other cosmetic changes such as altered eye color. Of course, this only made Joseph look like Bruce; Levitt also had to study Bruce’s acting to really convince the audience he was the same person.
Jim Carrey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Everyone loves Dr Seuss’s story of the Grinch, which dates back to 1957. Director Ron Howard had a tough task in bringing the cartoon character to the big screen, and it was only thanks to the talents of makeup artist Rick Baker that Jim Carrey made his transformation. It took four hours to apply the prosthetics, and another hour just to remove it all. Jim Carrey went through this ordeal for around five months; according to him, the worst part was the over-sized contact lenses which were apparently unbearable.
John Matuszak in The Goonies
The character of Sloth might look like something straight out of a horror film, but the character is a gentle (but very ugly) giant. Back in 1985, character makeup wasn’t aided by computer imaging, and so The Burman Studio team had quite a task on their hands when asked to create this monster. Fifteen overlapping sections of prosthetics were created for actor John Matuszak’s face, and the team also utilized remote controlled mechanical devices which wiggled the eyes and ears.
Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth
Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece, is a fantastic demonstration of the remarkable technical skill of today’s makeup artists. Actor Doug Jones played both the green-skinned magical faun, and the horrifying monster known as the Pale Man (both creations of makeup artist David Martí). The Pale Man (above) is a fairytale monster that can only see through its hands, and which has a taste for naughty children. The transformation took five hours a day, and since the outfit had no eyes, Doug had to peer through the nostril slits to see where he was going.
Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire
In the hit film Mrs Doubtfire, Robin Williams plays a dad who goes that extra mile to spend more time with his children; by becoming their elderly female nanny. Hats off to the makeup department working on the film, for Williams looks more convincing than most nannies out there. The efforts of lead artist Ve Neill and her team were rewarded with the 1994 Academy Award for Best Makeup. Williams’s transformation took four and a half hours a day; plenty of time to practice his stand-up routine!
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