How Hollywood stars have gone through radical transformations for the big screen
Bad Grandpa Jackass star Johnny Knoxville went through four hours of make-up daily to get in character for his new film out last week – about an 86-year-old who goes on a road trip with his eight-year-old grandson. ‘That four hours seem like it would be a bad idea for the movie,’ said director Jeff Tremaine. ‘It seemed like it would be really hard on him. But he turned it into a positive where that four hours let him wrap his head around what we were going to shoot that day. He would just be writing the things he wanted to say.’
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button Brad Pitt’s 2008 movie is about a man who starts ageing backwards – and it took some serious CGI created by special effects company Digital Domain to make the Hollywood star look much, much older at the start of the film. The makers captured around 120 facial expressions from Pitt using a programme called Mova/Contour and applied them to multiple 3D models. Various actors were employed to play Button in his more elderly years, with the digital heads added later. The software is so detailed it could create all the elements of Benjamin, including his teeth. Pitt is reported to have spent five hours in make-up for the role as well.
The Nutty Professor Eddie Murphy’s 1996 movie about a fat professor might not have blown away audiences, but it won an Oscar for its use of make-up. Latex masks were applied to add fat cheeks and chins to Murphy’s face, while a polyurethane foam fat suit gave him his rotund figure. But to really make his belly jiggle, water-filled latex bladders that wobbled were also added to the outfit.
Austin Powers Mike Myers’ second film in the Powers series features the Canadian actor donning not one, but three foam latex fat suits. The makers even went as far as adding hair, moles and man breasts to the giant suits. The outfits were cooled using water, but Myers still sweated constantly in them. ‘I smelled like an 800lb sewage filter system,’ he said.
White Chicks The Wayan brothers’ 2004 comedy involved transforming the actors into two white ladies – and the process came at a price. ‘Hell is walking around for 60 days in a row with your thing taped back, ‘ said Shawn Wayan. ‘It was terrible. The make-up process took five hours a day and involved removing all their body hair, before the pair were air-brushed with bright orange-red acrylic body paint. ‘We tried just putting white make-up on them, but it made their skin look gray and ashen – really gross,’ said respected Hollywood make-up artist Greg Cannom. ‘We needed this red to counteract their normal skin tone.’ Prosthetic masks were then added followed by white-flesh looking make-up. The actors watched movies such as Clueless and Some Like It Hot to get into character.
Tropic Thunder This 2008 action comedy thriller starring Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr as Hollywood stars caught in a real war while filming an action movie, saw Downey Jr don black face paint for the role. Downey Jr played Kirk Lazarus, an actor who has had plastic surgery to play a black Vietman-era army sergeant. Like his character Lazarus, Downey Jr is a method actor and stayed in character as Sergeant Osiris/Lazarus even while the cameras weren’t rolling. Downey Jr almost didn’t take the role because he thought it was offensive, but he really wanted to work with Black and Stiller.
Big Momma’s House We’ve already mentioned make-up artist Greg Cannom and his work on White Chicks, but he was also responsible for turning US comic Martin Lawrence into Big Momma in this film about an FBI agent who disguises himself as an old lady, in this flick released back in 2000. Cannom used a silicone suit, which was hand-sculpted and – most importantly, made from materials which were actually breathable, meaning Lawrence could wear it for up to 14 hours a day.
The Machinist The only entry on our list which didn’t require any make-up, Christian Bale lost a dramatic 63lbs over four months (a Hollywood record) by only eating an apple a day with a cup of coffee. Rumour has it he was desperate to lose another 20 pounds for the role, about an insomniac who thinks he’s going mad, but the film’s makers said no. The dramatic weight loss had several negative effects on Bale, who even found running difficult as a result because he had no leg muscles left.