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A Behind the Scenes Look At the Most Impressive Makeup and Prosthetic Transformations In Hollywood

We have all seen movies where we could barely recognize the actor who went through a massive transformation for the role he or she was playing. We are used to seeing actors as themselves or at the very least looking like themselves. However, in some films they undergo an extensive transformation to play a certain character. But how do they get to the end result of that huge transformation into a fantastic character? We collected the documentation from television and film to bring you the behind the scenes snaps of just how these actors went from themselves to something entirely different.

To get the actor from themselves to a character that does not even exist, there is a lot of makeup and prosthetic work that goes into making them that way. Hours in the makeup chair every single day to recreate the look. Hollywood has some of the most talented makeup artists and prosthetic technicians around, and these actors got the full treatment as they transformed every day for their role. From horror movie villains who were the undead, and medieval trolls, to Night Kings and fairy tale creatures, we are sure you have not seen these Hollywood A-listers looking like this before! You may not even have guessed that the character you saw on the screen was even the actor you were thinking of. 

Johnny Depp played the role of notorious drug lord and Irish-American crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger in the 2015 film Black Mass. For this transformation to take place and for Jonny to look like Bulger throughout his life, Depp needed to have various prosthetics glued to him. 

The most notable pieces were the blond hairpiece cap that transformed his entire head, as well as those light blue contact lenses. Depp’s before and after is quite jarring to see but the makeup and prosthetic work sure did their job in transforming him. 

The art of prosthetic-making that looks real and translates well is an art form. “The process of prosthetics is something I don’t think people are aware of how extensive it,” said prosthetic designer Barrie Gower. “It’s such a complex department, and the builds that go into these things is quite time-consuming.”

In order for Richard Blake to transform into the Night King in Game of Thrones, the team needed to have incredibly detailed head and face molds created which took several weeks to do. In addition to the prosthetics, Blake would sit in the makeup chair for another couple of hours to complete the look. 

In order to transform Angelina Jolie into Maleficent the design team needed to braid her hair very tightly and in a certain way to make sure the horned headpiece was to fit in four distinct locations. Prosthetics were also placed on her cheekbones to give them the extra sharp look that the character had.

Jolie also had dental prosthetics put in for those sharp teeth, all of which was followed up with a bold red lip, smokey eyes, and a look that only Jolie knows how to give and bring to life. 

The Terminator was set in a futuristic age that was far beyond our current one and certainly beyond when the original film came out. In order to transform Arnold Schwarzenegger into the terminator’s look post-battle, nothing less than prosthetic work could make it look real. You can see in the images here just how detailed the prosthetic work was, looking more like surgery than anything else. 

The prosthetic work for Schwarzenegger’s right side, the team needed to mold casts to his face and ensure the perfect and realistic fit – not to mention hours more in the makeup chair. 

In order to hone the role of John du Pont, a strange billionaire in the film Foxcatcher in 2014, Steve Carell sat through hours of prosthetics and makeup every day before filming. The most noticeable difference in Carell would have to be the prosthetic nose that would take his normally good-looking one and make it a whole lot less attractive.

In addition to the nose and teeth, the makeup team also airbrushed his skin to have sun damage, age spots, freckles, and varicose veins that Carell surely did not have. Carell even said, “once all of that makeup was on, people reacted and responded to me differently on set.”

Eddie Redmayne brilliantly played the role of Stephen Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything. He portrayed the man from his healthy younger days to his ill older ones. The prosthetics and makeup for this were challenging as they needed to not only show age, but the deterioration Hawking’s showed due to his illness.

Jan Sewell, an expert makeup and prosthetic artist was tasked with the job. “I was looking quite closely at how to change the shape of his face and what the disease did to his body,” Sewell said. “[Those with motor neuron disease] don’t use their muscles so they don’t age in the same way. It was important that we knew what he would look like at 21 and in the last stage. Then I would be able to work out the timeline.” She utilized varying ear and mouthpieces to portray various stages in his life, to make it look like he was “starting to shrink.” 

“Ryan Reynolds’ transformation started with gluing his hair down and hiding it under a tight-fitting skull cap,” Corso stated, the prosthetic and makeup designer on the set of Deadpool. He continued: “A ghastly skull and veined under paint was applied [over the cap] that would show through the thin, translucent silicone [mask] appliances, which were painted to match examples of extreme skin disorders.”

The layers were necessary to make the effect look real. “The closer you got, the more detail under his skin you could see. Ryan wore nine silicone prosthetic appliances when just his head was exposed.” Marvel spared no expense. 

Kelly Stables played the role of the young girl, Samara, in the sequel to the horror movie The Ring. Stables, however, was far from the age that young Samara was said to be – she was in her 30s. However, at just 4 feet 9 inches tall, she pulled off the look remarkably well.

Most people did not know it was her at all as she was covered in prosthetics. Every piece of exposed skin was plastered with material to give her the creepy look that she had, which was supposed to take on the look of what skin would look like if left in water for too long. 

DiCaprio landed the role of J. Edgar Hoover in the 2011 film J. Edgar. In order to transform him into the man in his later years, the team provided DiCaprio with contact lenses, fake teeth, body parts made of latex in order to make his face take shape, and skull cap and wig. All in all, DiCaprio was in the makeup chair for seven hours!

“Layers of prosthetics are like acting with a paper bag on your face and Leo had to learn to exaggerate his expressions so they would show through the appliances,” said the makeup artist. 

Johnny Depp transformed into the Mad Hatter in the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland. Depp also had involvement in the design of this character. “There were these weird little cryptic bits that Lewis Carroll dropped in there… I found this thing called The Hatter’s Disease… this very toxic substance to glue the hats together, which ended up poisoning them heavily,” explained Depp.

Depp continues: “Some would develop Tourettes style syndrome, some would develop a personality disorder… some would get darker. So, I just thought ‘yeah.’” Depp also explained how the substance also affects the hair, “there was also an orange tint to the actual stuff, which is where all the orange bits come from.” 

Carrey’s role in the 1994 hit film The Mask, meant that he sat in the makeup chair for four hours a day. His biographer said, “Carrey remembers that the long and involved daily makeup sessions just about drove him insane – which may or may not have prompted his Mask co-star, Cameron Diaz, to comment that working with Jim was not unlike visiting an insane asylum.”

The film’s director, Chuck Russell admitted that the fact that Carrey was able to show his expressions through the prosthetics had them save a lot of money on other effects that they thought that they would need. 

In order for Jennifer Lawrence to become Mystique in the X-Men films, she needed to undergo seven hours of makeup that was done by no less than six makeup artists. After a few times in the makeup trailer, Lawrence asked them “why don’t you just dip me in a bathtub with blue?” What you saw on screen as Mystique contained no CGI.

As for the risk in the body paint, she said “It’s just the paint… I’m like, ‘I can’t even pronounce this and that’s going in my nose? I’m breathing that?’” Celebrity makeup artist Melissa Rogers clarifies that the paint used can be toxic for the skin: “Body makeup is in the special effects category. Generally, special effects cosmetics are loaded with chemicals.”

Sir Ian McKellen has been in many films and theater productions. However, in terms of transformations, his shift into the character of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, was the most extensive one he had undergone. The makeup team provided McKellen with a huge fake nose so as to match the long grey hair, beard, and very dramatic outfit.

“I had requested a smaller nose than last time,” McKellen explained. “The WETA sculptors were making new noses anyway, silicone replacing the old sticky gelatine which tended to slide around if the wizard sneezed or shouted.” 

The lead guitarist for the metal band Anthrax, Ian Scott, got to live out every metalhead’s dream when he landed himself a role as a White Walker in Game of Thrones! I shared what it was like to go through the makeup and prosthetics: “I love it. It’s really cool to be able to become someone else. I’m not an actor, so this is like Halloween coming around every day, man. Who wouldn’t want to do that?”

“I’ve been fascinated with learning how they make the effects in horror and fantasy since I was a kid. It’s not something I’ve ever wanted to do, but to see the artists do it is amazing – because they truly are artists. They make the effects that are so crucial to the movies I love, so to be a fly on the wall is incredible.”

Rob Perlman landed the role of the lead in Hellboy. It was Perlman himself who hired the makeup artist, Jake Garber, for the huge undertaking. Garber was known for his work in puppetry, stunts, animatronics, and prosthetics. In order to put the prosthetics on Perlman each day, it would take four hour and a lot of red makeup. Only his eyelids were showing by the time they were done.

He also had dentures, fake hands, and contact lenses to make extra sure that there was nothing Perlman showing and all Hellboy. Garber said that there are several layers and tints of red to the character. 

In order to transform into the “Elephant Man” for the film, John Hurt was dressed in no less than 15 layers of prosthetics. He spent eight hours a day in makeup in order to achieve the look and another two hours at the end of the day to have the prosthetics taken off. Hurt was heard saying, “I think they finally managed to make me hate acting.”

Hurt took on the role of John Merrick, a man born with deformities that were extremely severe back in the 1800s. Due to the time of his birth and the extent of his deformity, he was put as a “freak show” and called the “Elephant Man.”  

Johnny Depp seems to take on roles where he needs to spend hours in makeup. In order to become Edward Scissorhands, Depp sat through nearly two hours of makeup every day. His facial scars, hair, pale skin, and let us not forget the scissors for hands, were all a part of the transformation Depp needed to undergo to become Tim Burton’s character.

You can see the steps by step work it took to achieve jus the facial scars as they were risen scars and were worked onto Depp’s skin to make them look as natural to Depp as possible. 

One of Eddie Murphy’s most incredible transformations was into Saul, an older Jewish barbershop client. The makeup and prosthetic team covered every inch of Murphy’s skin and were designed by Rick Baker, who also worked on the other characters in the film.

Murphy found himself very funny in the character, a transformation that the makeup artist said was the hardest of all but the most rewarding for sure. He said, “it’s the best makeup in the movie.” It is hard to imagine how many layers and smaller details went into this. 

In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt played the role of a man who aged backwards. Aging in the opposite way than all others also meant that the makeup and prosthetics would be doing the same. I was so impressed with the detail. It wasn’t that uncomfortable. in the end, it was surprising how it could tell the story better,” Pitt recalled.

Pitt spoke about his admiration for the makeup and prosthetic work: “They sculpted each age that we wanted to portray in the film. They had to keep track of pieces that were so minimal, you’ll just feel the gradual progression throughout the film because of its such a seamless transition.” 

In order to play the role of Mark Twain in the 2012 show Citizen Twain, Kilmer needed to have some serious prosthetic work done to him. Kilmer said this about he came to have a live show: “I was looking for a story that would represent me personally, so that’s how I came up with this idea of Mark Twain and Mary Eddy Baker and how he was obsessed with her for the last 10 years of his life.”

The total amount of time he was be in the chair daily was two hours, and included makeup, hairpiece, mustache, and prosthetic nose and lower jaw and neck.

It is no question that The Lord of the Rings makeup and prosthetic team is beyond many others. In addition to the work they did to bring to life Orcs and other creatures, the prosthetic and makeup work they did to make Bilbo Baggins real was unparalleled.

Actor Ian Holm played the role of Bilbo, and within the film itself also went through various points of aging. The WETA Workshop in New Zealand was the one responsible for the prosthetics. The many characters that needed the hard work of makeup and prosthetics explained the massive budget this film had. 

Many people forget that Tim Curry was the one to play the terrifying role of Pennywise in the original film It. Bart J. Nixon was the makeup artist who transformed Curry into the horror character. Nixon recalls, “I started out designing Pennywise by doing lots and lots of research into various clown looks.”

Curry wanted a different approach, though, “Tim wanted to wear as little prosthetics as possible, so we tested two looks for Pennywise. The first was just the nose and headpiece and a paint scheme that Tim contributed some ideas to,” Mixon said. 

The makeup artist on the 1989 film Batman, Nick Dudman, detailed his work on the Joker character played by Jack Nicholson. ”I went to Burbank to get Jack’s lifecast. I took one smiling, one neutral, plus plenty of pictures to see how he smiled. I then sculpted five different looks from subtle to extreme and showed them to Jack. Luckily, he chose the one I hoped he would.”

The indentations were made with the prosthetics, which Dudman said, “the hardest thing was arriving at a “white” that worked on a dark set next to a guy dressed in black rubber. That took some testing. In the end, we heavily shaded it with a metallic gunmetal.”

Naomi Grossman landed the role of Pepper in American Horror Story. Despite the long hours in the makeup chair, she did not hate the process like some actors do. “The process of doing the makeup is a blast,” Grossman said. But she did add, “I know that’s not a conventional answer, sitting still for hours and hours…”

She realized how hard the makeup artist had to work to bring her character to life and said that it was “really fun.” She also knows just how lucky she is, “What a prize of a part any actor would want to totally transform one’s self,” she added. 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas was a hit film, but it did bring to light a different side of Jim Carrey. Carrey, a method actor, was not gaining friends on set and according to his makeup artist, Kazuhiro Tsuji, he needed to “check into therapy” after working with Carrey.

Rick Baker, the head makeup artist described the work that needed to be done to make Carrey into the Grinch: “First thing you’d do is clean the skin so the glue works, then we’d put a protective coating on to help preserve their skin. [Then] the appliances are glued on with a medical adhesive [and] each piece is individually put on.” He continues, “We have a basic green coat that goes on first but then there’s purple and yellows and different layers to make it look more real and translucent. And then the hairpieces go on…”

It is impossible to imagine Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather played by anyone other than Marlon Brando. Originally, however, the studio was not sure about him in that role. It was not until they saw him in his own prosthetic that he made that they decided otherwise. Director Francis Coppola remembered:

“We went to his house on Mulholland Drive and it was early, he wasn’t up…the door opens, and in walks this beautiful man with long blond hair. He did it up himself in the back, and he took shoe polish and he made it black.” He then proceeded to take Kleenex and put it in his mouth to achieve the look and sound. 

Makeup artist Greg Cannom worked on actor Christian Bale in order to transform him into Dick Cheney in Vice. “I used a special rubber-mask grease makeup that you could use on rubber and appliances. It holds up really well, and it gives a translucency to it that looks very real. I’d use different colors of bases, and the very last thing I’d do is I’d go in with reds to pop the reds in his face to look really natural.”

“Sometimes we shot two different makeups a day, so we’d have to take him out of that and redo the whole thing at a different age. I was very concerned with Christian sitting that long for the makeup, but he never had a problem with it. While we were doing his makeup, he’d be researching Cheney photos and videos.” 

Margot Robbie transformed into Queen Elizabeth I in the film Mary Queen of Scots. It is hard to imagine a beauty like Robbie being anything but, yet somehow it was achieved. Robbie would sit for four hours in the makeup trailer and become the Queen. 

She would start it out by wrapping her natural hair prior to having a cap and wig put on. “Surprisingly, the quick part was the white makeup,” she said, “and the heavily drawn-on blush, eyebrows, lips.” The smallpox scars that the Queen had were recreated using silicone. 

For Jeremy Woodhead, the lead makeup artist on the Avengers, the hardest part was doing Vision’s makeup and coloring. “The red color was actually the hardest thing because we didn’t want him to be a bright scarlet, which would look slightly absurd, so we ended up with a color that’s hard to describe,” he explained. 

“In some light, it looked pink and in others, red. It was a light-dependent thing, which necessitated a mix of colors and layers.” Woodhead also explained how they used the most minimal amount of prosthetics so the actor could move as much as possible. 

In the new It, Bill Skarsgård reprises the role of Pennywise in yet another terrifying film. Andy Muschietti, the director of the 2017 film wanted to make sure that the childlike quality of Pennywise was there. Therefore, the prosthetics and makeup team created fake cheeks for the actor to wear, giving him a more childlike look.

Another element that they added, which was less childlike, were those teeth and contact lenses. Bill Skarsgård said that in order to prepare for the role, he studied footage of bears and other wild animals. 

In terms of length of time in makeup, Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad was the most high-maintenance of the Jokers so far, taking three hours to apply everything. Alessandro Bertolazzi, the makeup artist, said he applied “six or seven” layers onto Leto’s skin for more depth to the layers.

“We had a special makeup department only for Jared,” Bertolazzi admitted. “When he arrived in the morning, he’d come straight to the makeup department.” It took Heath Ledger one hour in the makeup chair, and Joaquin Phoenix a mere 15 minutes to transform into the Joker. 

The special effects team that was responsible for the 2011 X-Men film, X-Men: First Class, was headed by Alex Gillis in the makeup department. He said, “Director Matthew Vaughan really gravitated towards the more lion-like versions of the Marvel Comic Beast. He wanted a clean break from the Kelsey Grammer version. Fur was in, hair was out. Any version of Beast that featured human head hair was too ‘rock star.’”

Gillis continued, “so ADI and Dave and Lou Elsey kept the palette to the feline textures.” However, there was a change in post-production. “Some warm tone break up was introduced to make the skin tone less monochromatic and more alive. The studio stepped in during post-production and digitally removed the naturalistic color break up in favor of a more straight forward blue.” 

John Rhys-Davies is a well-respected actor in Hollywood and theater. So when he took the role of Gimli in The Lord of the Rings, it was pure joy. However, he did not think it would be a success as much as it was. “I didn’t want to spend three years in prosthetic make-up on a film that was going to fail,” he admitted.

The real actor lost his finger when he was younger so he was given a prosthetic one on set. He used the finger to play pranks on director Peter Jackson by calling out that he had an accident and then showing up with the finger in fake blood. 

For her 2018 role in the film Destroyer, Nicole Kidman underwent a major make-under transformation. “We always knew that what we wanted her to look like was a real middle-aged woman with a past that she wears on her face. With sun damage and sleep deprivation and stress and rage, just in her whole physical body.”

Kidman did the acting but the prosthetic and makeup did the real effects in the character. “[She] wears her ugliness on the outside, all that smallness and bitterness,” director Karyn Kusama detailed. Kidman wore minimal prosthetics but they were enough to make a huge difference.  

And by ex-hubby we mean Brad Pitt. In the 2010 film Salt, Angelina plays the role of Evelyn who hides her identity, and in some cases gender. For that to happen she needs to undergo prosthetic transformation to give her a more masculine look.

For Jolie’s family it was a little hard to grasp. “I invited Maddox to come and say hi and didn’t tell him who I was. He hung out with me for a while until I said ‘Mad’ – and when he realized it was me he was just freaking out. Brad wouldn’t kiss me either, he wouldn’t go there.”

Robin Williams transformed into Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993. He collected many awards and accolades for his role. It was also the movie where he turned into the beloved nanny, with a lot of prosthetics involved. “The makeup on a good day would three and a half hours, on a bad day four and a half,” Williams recollected.

For his headpiece, he wore eight overlapping latex pieces. “all made fresh, weekly, so we don’t have a problem with shrinkage,” the makeup artist detailed. At the end of the day it would take another hour to remove everything from Robin’s face.  

In order to play the role of Penguin in Batman Returns, Danny DeVito needed a lot of prosthetics and makeup. DeVito remembered, “that first cold brush of glue all around my nose.” That was just the first step to a long makeup routine.

“Danny wore false teeth, uppers and lowers, and then I mixed up a concoction of mouth wash with red and green food coloring in it… we decided it was some sort of bile.” DeVito himself remembered that “I would always take a big mouthful of that and let it ooze out… when I was feeling adventurous!” 

Josh Brolin played the role of Cable in Deadpool 2. It was for this role that prosthetics were placed all over his bare skin. Bill Corso, the makeup artist on the set said, “more complicated than the Deadpool makeup, and it kept evolving as we started shooting.”

Cable’s body was becoming mechanical in nature and no longer natural. “This makeup is not like the Terminator,” Corso stated, explaining that “it’s a disease that’s growing on Cable that’s turning his skin into metal. So it’s gotta look like metal, but there’s a lot of skin involved that’s been mutated, and it’s kind of messed up.”

Tilda Swinton played the role of an 84-year-old Madame in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Mark Coulier was hired to do the makeup for the film as he was very familiar with the work as the head makeup artist for all of the Harry Potter films.

While he was very experienced, he always looked to learn and so decided on “a very soft silicone rubber that’s encapsulated in a plastic barrier that dissolves into the skin,” for Swinton, adding that “every time you learn from what you did last time and you make improvements.”  

Planet of the Apes is a legendary film for many reasons, one of them being the heavy use of prosthetics. John Chambers was the lead makeup artist and was open with the actors about how long this was going to take. A fellow artist said, “They were afraid that actors would not wear the make-up because of the length of time it took to apply, and they had to wear it all day long.”

The producer even said, “John, we’re having famous actors play these parts, we want to see them through the make-up, we don’t want to go so ‘ape’ that the audience can’t relate to them.” 

Transforming into the wicked witch in the 2013 film Oz the Great and Powerful, Mila Kunis underwent hours of makeup and prosthetic work. The work was so extensive that Makeup Artist Magazine called it “one of the biggest American makeup shoots in years, employing an army of union makeup and hair artists for the better part of a year.”

Howard Berger, the makeup artist, said: “She’s pretty much covered in appliances. The only part of her skin on her face [that isn’t] is her upper lip. Everything else is a combination of silicone and foam rubber. Then she’s completely painted, her shoulders are painted, her chest and back and neck and everything because her costume reveals so much.”

Tim Burton’s films are without a doubt imaginative and therefore need hours of makeup and prosthetic work on each individual actor. His 1988 film, Beetlejuice, was no exception. Michael Keaton played the title role and recalled Burton asking for “hair that looks like I stuck my phone in an electrical outlet.”

Keaton continues to recall: “I want mold somewhere because the character lives in the rocks.” The makeup artist managed to get to where Burton wanted them to be and covered him in mold from his hairline to his neck and back. 

Emma Thompson landed the role of Nanny McPhee who was a caretaker of five children and had a very large nose and one snaggled tooth. The makeup and prosthetics team worked wonders on Thompson, transforming her into the character. The makeup artist in charge of this wonder was Mark Coulier.

Thompson wrote the scripts which changed how she handled the makeup chair. “In a sense, putting the costume on is the reward for having sat on my own for a few years writing the story,” she confessed.

Heath Ledger played the Joker and did so with emotional gusto as ever. The prosthetics director said, “I was never given a concept or reason for the scarring before I started on the design of the Joker’s scars. Once I had it in my mind that it was going to be scars, rather than a fixed smile, I immediately thought of the punk and skinhead era and some unsavory characters I had come across during this time.”

As for the transformation, Heath was the one who said, “It’s pretty quick. They’ve come up with a new technology for the mouthpiece, as the scars are made out of silicone not prosthetic. My whole bottom lip is fake.”  

Ralph Fiennes played the role of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films. The makeup and prosthetic teams worked wonders on him, digitally removing his nose by using tracking dots that were brightly colored and perfectly positioned. Instead of nostrils, he got slits to breath out of to make him look more animalistic and less human.

Other than the nose, the makeup team removed his eyebrows, added fake teeth, nails, and made his skin look translucent and ominous like the character was meant to be.  

Charlize Theron won an Academy Award for her role as Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster. For the role, Theron committed entirely as she underwent a massive make-under transformation that also had her gain weight. Toni G, the makeup artist, recalls: “She’s got this beautiful face, but she’s a very brave woman because you’ve got to have the weight in order for the jowls to look right … You could never do something like that with an actress who isn’t totally willing to go for it.”

“We had all those things together but she still had this creamy, poreless, gorgeous skin. With makeup, I had to create the years of abuse to her skin – all the freckles and capillaries and sun damage – either through hand-painting or working with an airbrush.”

Gary Oldman transformed into Winston Churchill in the 2017 film Darkest Hour. Oldman needed to go through major changes to become the character, and it was a lot of work for the makeup and prosthetic team, as you can see here in the progress photos. David Malinowski, the makeup director on the film said, “He’s so respectful of our craft, he would sit still in the chair for four hours.”

“He wouldn’t sleep in the trailer – lots of people they fall asleep and there’s either the impression of their iPhone on their face or a pillow, you know, you get red lines, all sorts of stuff. But Gary didn’t want to sleep. He didn’t eat and if he did he would just have really small bits of food. So a lot of it is down to Gary, it’s not just us looking after it, it’s him looking after it for us.”

Karen Gillan played the role of Nebula in both The Guardians of the Galaxy films. Her makeup made her nearly unrecognizable in the film so do not feel bad if you did not realize it was her. David White, the makeup artist, said that her prosthetics were “the most complex and interesting.” He continued by saying, “The five-piece prosthetic was a puzzle of butt joins and blend offs, all on the same pieces.”

Gillian committed too, “I was told even before I auditioned that the actress who got this would have to shave her head, and I didn’t think I was gonna get it. So I was like, ‘absolutely, I will shave my head! Sure!’ Then, like three screen tests later, [I thought], ‘oh God, this might actually happen.’” 

Brendan Gleeson played the role of Mad-Eye Moody in the Harry Potter Films. It took around two and a half hours a day to become the character. “We did Mad-Eye Moody, a major multi-piece silicone prosthetic makeup for Brendan Gleeson, with an animatronic, radio-controlled eye,” Nick Dudman explained.

Dudman also shared another little-known fact: “If an actor is well known, his contract usually stipulates the hours he can work and that limits the time in makeup. So at the beginning, I spend time thinking about how we can get that time down.”

In order to become Thorin in the film The Hobbit, actor Richard Armitage sat for three hours every day in the makeup trailer. “About an hour and a half for the face and 45 minutes for the hair. If we started shooting at eight o’clock we would have to be in the chair at 4.30 am. That’s over 270 film days,” Armitage recalled.

Armitage detailed, “Each piece had a price tag on it that would make you balk. They cost about $2000 each, you only stick them on once because they’re so delicate, and once the day is over you throw them in the bin. Our prosthetic artist would spend each night punching eyebrow hairs into the mold, being so meticulous about it. It’s a whole new world of skill.”


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