While the actors and directors get most of the credit in movies, there’s so much more going on behind the scenes. Set designs, camera work and costumes all come together to create a movie. Not only that, but productions would be nothing if not for the makeup. Movie makeup can change an actor in subtle or intense ways. Makeup creates or enhances various characteristics and effects, from fantasy elements to gore.
It can transform actors into just about anyone–or anything. Here’s a list of some of the best makeup through the ages of cinema. Take a look!
1.) Rebecca Romijn as Mystique in X-Men (2000)
Actress Romijn spent up to 12 hours a day in the makeup chair to achieve Mystique’s scaly blue look. While it certainly looks like she’s naked, she’s actually wearing silcone prosthetics over two-thirds of her body, which were applied before a full-body airbrushing to achieve the solid blue hue. We don’t even want to think about how long it took to get outof the makeup. Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique took a slightly different approach with a bodysuit.
2.) Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie (1982)
Hoffman said he would only take this role if the makeup was good enough for him to pass as a woman in everyday life, not just in the world of the movie. The rigorous transformation included skin tightening treatments and prosthetic teeth. The results were so good that Hoffman fooled his own daughter, and the costume also made him more aware of how he, as a man, viewed women and how women are viewed in public, which made for some personal growth
3.) Jeff Goldblum in The Fly (1986)
To get the effect of a gradual transformation, makeup artist Chris Walas actually started with Jeff Goldblum’s final fly form and worked backwards. There were seven stages of mutation, all completed in only three months. There’s a total of five pounds of prosthetics at work here
4.) John Hurt in The Elephant Man (1980)
The prosthetics for Hurt’s portrayal of Joseph Merrick
, the real-life figure behind this biopic involved 15 separate pieces, and was created using a cast of Merrick’s head as well as Merrick’s actual skeleton. The makeup was so impactful that after it, the Academy Awards began including a category for Best Makeup.
5.) Boris Karloff in Frankenstein (1931)
This was the movie that made a big square head with neck bolts the signature look of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster for years to come. Because of technological limitations of the day (no silicone or latex), makeup artist Jack Pierce built up Karloff’s face and head using gum, cotton and surgical glue. In total, Karloff wore 35 pounds of makeup and costume for this role. Karloff himself contributed to the look as well; by removing his dental plate, he created the dent on the right side of his face, rendering it asymmetrical.
6.) All the Apes in Planet of the Apes (1968)
It wasn’t just makeup for one, but for hundreds. Makeup artist John Chambers invented a new type of foam rubber specifically for this film to allow for a naturalistic range of motion. Because of the sheer number of actors who needed to be ape-ified, Chambers hired pretty much all the makeup artists in Hollywood, delaying many other films as a result. The makeup here was updated in the 2001 remake, but owes a lot to the original.
7.) Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972)
This is one of the more subtle looks, but in that way, it’s even more incredible. No one thinks of Don Corleone as being a costume, but consider that Brando was only 47 in this role, while the character was considerably older. Brando refused to wear prosthetics, and so the decades were added to him using makeup alone. The only thing added to his face are dental devices called “plumpers,” meant to fill in sunken areas of the mouth (see Karloff’s makeup for the opposite effect) that created the signature jowls–and speech.
8.) Charlize Theron in Monster (2003)
Theron gained about 30 pounds for this role, and makeup artist Toni G also fried Theron’s hair and bleached out her eyebrows to make her into serial killer Aileen Wuornos. In addition Theron’s face was sprayed with a mixture of tattoo ink and marble fixture to create the rough, worn-out looking skin, but the only prosthetics were dentures and eyelids.
9.) Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street (2012)
This super-meta remake featured Johnny Depp in a serious disguise that renders him unrecognizable for much of the film. This might have been a spoiler.
10.) Doug Jones in (2006)
The Faun’s costume involved a full body of makeup and prosthetics topped off with 10-pound horns, and bottomed off with eight-inch lifts and fake legs. Jones’ real legs were digitally edited out. But besides the makeup and the CGI, this costume also used animatronics for subtle, naturalistic movements. The ears and eyelids were remote-controlled, so they could be operated from off-screen while Dog Jones acted out the rest of the Faun’s movements.
There are plenty of other notable uses of makeup in cinema, from the effects in the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera, which supposedly made movie-goers scream, to the aging of Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose, and plenty more.
Images via CineFix