In many popular movies, some stars have to transform with the help of special effects completely. But have you ever wondered how they were able to achieve this? From prosthetics to body paint, we are taking a look at the behind-the-scenes work that goes into transforming actors into these famous characters. From Voldemort to the Terminator, take a look at the process of these transformations, and prepare to be amazed by the artistry that goes into the process.
The Most Impressive Prosthetic Transformations For Hollywood's Biggest MoviesPublished 1 month ago
The handsome Ryan Reynolds went from hunky to creepy with the help of special effects makeup. His hair was glued down and put tightly under a bald cap. They then painted on all the graphic details like veins and lesions.
The makeup team revealed that the secret to making this look realistic was all the layers that added depth to the design. He had nine silicon prosthetics on just his head.
In the Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, Johnny Depp portrayed the Mad Hatter. He helped with the overall idea for the makeup because he wanted to keep some of the ideas that Lewis Carrol wrote in the original book. Depp explained that he found a thing called The Hatter's Disease that was caused by toxic chemicals used to glue hats together.
The disease would give people Tourettes or personality disorders, and some would get darker. This helped with the idea for the Mad Hatter's skin color. Also, the glue had an orange tint, which is why they added all the orange accents.
In the 2010 movie Salt, Angelina Jolie hides her character's identity by transforming into a man. She has many disguises in the movie, but this was the most drastic.
Jolie said she invited her son Maddox to come to set, and he didn't recognize her until she said "mad," and then he couldn't believe it was his mom. Also, she said her former husband, Brad Pitt, refused to kiss her while she was in character.
Some parts of the character transformation take weeks to design like the prosthetics that were used to create the Night King in Game of Thrones. Prosthetic designer, Barrie Gower, said, "It's such a complex department, and the builds that go into these things is quite time-consuming."
For the Night King character, the design team make a cast of his head and face molds, which took about six weeks to prepare. On top of that, Richard Brake would sit through hours of makeup to get into character.
Naomi Grossman portrayed Pepper in American Horror Story and the transformation was truly incredible. Grossman loved the process even though it took some time to finish.
Grossman recognized the talent and artistry it took to create this intricate look. She said she felt lucky to take part in the show and the transformation process.
To transform all of the actors in Planet of the Apes, it took an incredible amount of prosthetic work on all the cast members. John Chambers was the lead makeup artist for the movie and he wanted all the actors to know how long the makeup would take before committing to the movie.
Chambers said a lot of actors did pass up the experience because of the required makeup. Produce Arthur Jacobs and Chambers came to the agreement that the actors would still be visible under all that makeup so the movie could be relatable.
For the 2015 movie, Black Mass, Johnny Depp Was made over into the Irish-American crime boss and drug lord, James "Whitey" Bulger. Throughout the movie, Depp's character had to be transformed into the different stages of his life.
The makeup team used bald caps with hair glued onto it so they wouldn't ruin Depp's actual hair. Also, blue contacts were added to top off the look.
In the 1989 adaptation of Batman, Jack Nicholson played the Joker. Nick Dudman was the lead makeup artist, and he worked closely with Nicholson to arrive at the final look. The process started by taking many different pictures of Nicholson with different expressions to get the prosthetics just right.
Dudman said the hardest part about this makeup was creating a white that would look normal on the dark set next to Batman.
Steve Carell had the anti-nose job to turn into the 2014 Foxcatcher character, James du Pont. They applied a prominent prosthetic nose and spray-painted his face to give it a discolored effect.
The makeup team added age spots, varicose veins, freckles, and sun damage to change his skin. The team was so happy with the outcome because the makeup blended seamlessly into Carell's face. He also had fake teeth to top everything off.
Richard Armitage had to sit in the makeup chair for three hours to be transformed in the leader of the dwarves, Thorin, in The Hobbit. They completely changed the structure of his entire head to get the most detailed end result.
Armitage said that each prosthetic cost around $2,000, so they had to be extremely careful with the delicate pieces. Although the pieces were so expensive, they would only be used once. You can only imagine how much the makeup alone cost for this movie.
Mila Kunis was unrecognizable in the 2013 movie, Oz the Great and Powerful. She plays the young witch, Theodora who is tricked and betrayed which causes her to transform into a hideous and wicked version of herself. The movie required an army of makeup and hair artists, making it one of the biggest American makeup shoots in years.
Howard Berger worked to transform Kunis and said her face was covered in prosthetics. The only part of her face that was showing was her upper lip. On top of all the pieces was paint that covered her entire body.
In this Hollywood transformation, Eddie Murphy is turned into a completely different person to become Saul. Every inch of his skin is covered in prosthetics by makeup artist Rich Baker. Murphy played multiple characters in the movie, so he had numerous looks, but this was the most detailed.
When they did the test run for this character, Murphy was so impressed and he couldn't stop laughing at how funny he looked.
When it comes to special effects makeup, The Terminator was ahead of its time. There were many challenges to create the half-human, half-robot character. In the photos, it looks like Schwarzenegger is having facial surgery rather than a prosthetic application.
The team made a skull cap with the detailed metalwork that was positioned on the right side of his face. He had to sit there for hours to get into character. His stunt double also had to have prosthetics to look more like Arnold and the Terminator.
In the movie The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne played a young Stephen Hawking. Throughout the movie, the physical effects of Hawking's motor neuron disease start to show, and this required makeup changes throughout the filming process.
Jan Swell, makeup and prosthetics expert, was the lead for the movie's makeup team. She looked at pictures of young Stephen Hawking and recent pictures so they could create an accurate timeline of the changes he went through. She created these looks by using various mouth and earpieces to portray the different stages in his life.
In the 2018 film The Destroyer, Nicole Kidman underwent a dramatic makeover. The vision for her look was a middle-aged woman who had sun-damage and visible sleep deprivation along with stress and rage that took a physical toll on her body.
Kidman provided the acting to bring the character to life, but the makeup helped incredibly to tell the character's story.
From sweet to scary, Kelly Stables' character in The Ring Two is something out of nightmares. Her 4'9" stature helped her look like a young girl. You would never recognize her because her hands, feet, face, and neck were covered with prosthetics.
The prosthetics for Stables' character were created to look like skin that had been left in the water for too long.
For Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover in the biographical drama, DiCaprio wore layers of prosthetics. He sat in the makeup chair for about six to seven hours in which fake teeth, eye contacts, a skull cap and wig, and latex body parts were applied.
The makeup team said that DiCaprio had to learn how to exaggerate his facial expressions because it was difficult to act with so many layers on his face. Also, he wore two sets of colored contacts, brown and yellow, to give his eyes and aged appearance.
Harry Potter fanatics waited three films to finally see how Lord Voldemort would be brought to life, and they were not disappointed. There was a lot of makeup applied to created this translucent like skin, and his nose had to be edited out digitally.
The editor's went with slits instead of nostrils to play on the snake-like side of him. The makeup team used eyebrow blockers, fake teeth, fake nails, and vein tattoos to bring Voldemort to life.
While many people questioned Jim Carrey's method acting in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, he played the part well. His entire face had to be covered in prosthetics so they could change his facial structure.
Head makeup artist for the movie, Richard Baker, said that they start by cleaning the skin, so that the adhesive will stick. Then the prosthetics are applied and then the green base layer. After the base layer, yellows and purple's were added to give the makeup more dimension. The final step was the hairpieces to tie the look together.
When we first see Nanny McPhee, she is unpleasant on the eyes with her mole, snaggle-tooth, and unibrow. No one would ever imagine that the gorgeous Emma Thompson was under all that. Mark Coulier was tasked with this hideous transformation and he made it so convincing.
Thompson wrote the scripts for both the Nanny McPhee films, so having them come to life and be put into the costume was rewarding for the years she spent writing the story.
Greg Cannom was the makeup artist for the movie Vice, and he was tasked with changing Christian Bale into Dick Cheney. His secret was using a rubber-mask grease makeup that could be applied to rubber and appliances. It helped the makeup last longer, and it looked realistic.
Cannom used different shades of foundation and added in reds to make the skin look as realistic as possible. He said that on some shooting days, there were two different makeup looks, so they had to take off the makeup and redo it for a different stage of his life.
To achieve the blue skin of Mystique on the X-Men movies, Jennifer Lawrence sat in makeup for upwards of seven hours. Her entire body had to be painted which took a team of six people to complete.
Lawrence was nervous about the effects of the paint on her skin. She said that she couldn't pronounce the ingredients which made her worry about them going in her nose and close to her eyes.
To create Gandalf, actor Ian McKellen, underwent extensive hair and makeup to achieve the look for Lord of the Rings. Despite Mckellen's naturally bulbous nose, the makeup team gave him a prosthetic nose that was larger. He also got long hair and a beard.
McKellen said that he requested a smaller nose when the sculptors were making new ones out of silicon. The original noses were made from gelatin, which slid around if he yelled or sneezed.
Mad-Eye Moody from the Harry Potter films required many prosthetics and about two and a half hours of makeup application. Brendan Gleeson played the character and said there were multiple silicon pieces with an animatronic controlled eye.
Makeup artist Nick Dudman said if a well known actor is cast, their contract limits their working hours, so they makeup application time is also affected. Dudman had to think of ways to save time on this makeup.
Compared to the other versions of the Joker, Jared Leto's Suicide Squad was the most high-maintenance. It would take three hours to apply the makeup, and they had to use many layers to create depth. Makeup artist Alessandro Bertolazzi said the detail of the makeup helped Leto get into character and stay in character throughout the day.
There was a special makeup department just for Leto. Bertolazzi said it was a painstaking effort for Leto, who took three hours compared to Heath Ledger, who was only an hour, and Joaquin Phoenix's makeup only took 15 minutes.
Studio ADI was hired to do the special effects makeup for X-Men: First Class. Makeup artist Alec Gillis said that they went for a lion-like look for the Beast. Director Matthew Vaughan wanted it to be completely different from the Kelsey Grammer version. Instead of hair, they used fur to make it realistic.
They kept with the feline textures, and in post-production, warm tones were added to make the skin look less monochromatic. Although the makeup itself was detailed, post-production helped to make him look more alive.
There are many special effects used in Game of Thrones, so it is no surprise how much makeup is used to create these fantastical characters. Ian Scott, the guitarist from the band Anthrax, was lucky enough to land a role as a White Walker, and he loved the transformation process.
Scott said he had been fascinated by the special effects makeup used in horror and fantasy movies since he was a child. It was like living his dream when talented artists transformed him.
For the movie Hellboy, Ron Perlman hand-picked the talented makeup artist Jake Garber. He has worked in art direction, animatronics and puppetry, so Perlman thought he would be perfect for this intense transformation. Perlman's face was covered entirely with prosthetics. The only part that was showing was his eyelids.
The prosthetics took four hours to apply, and he also had to have his body painted red. There was lots of shading used, so his body and face still looked realistic.
For the 1980s movie, Elephant Man, John Hurt had to wear 15 layers of prosthetics. After filming, it took two hours to remove. Hurt once said, "I think they finally managed to make me hate acting."
To share the story of John Merrick, the original "elephant man", was a major project. Merrick was born with severe deformities that were unexplainable in the 1800s. He spent his life being treated like a freak show.
Most people would never recognize Karen Gillan when she is fully made up for her role as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy. Makeup artist David White said that her prosthetics were so intricate and went on like a five-piece puzzle.
When Gillan auditioned for the role she was told she would have to shave her head, and she didn't think she was going to get the role so she said yes. After a few screen tests, she realized she was actually going to have to shave her head.
When it comes to prosthetics, the transformation to become Edward Scissorhands was relatively quick. It only took one hour and 45 minutes to apply the prosthetics for this look on Johnny Depp.
His face had added scars and makeup, which was simple compared to his intricate costume with weapon hands.
In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt had many makeup looks to help him look like an old man who was aging in reverse.
There were so many minimal pieces that went into each stage of Benjamin Button's life, but it really helped tell the story of the character.
To transform into Mark Twain for the show Citizen Twain, Val Kilmer had to have many prosthetics. It took about two hours of makeup to achieve this look, and silicone parts were attached to his hairpiece.
The makeup team made sure that his face look realistic, and he even had the signature Twain mustache. Kilmer would take selfies throughout the makeup process because he was so fascinated by the artistry that went into his transformation.
In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, many characters had incredible prosthetics to show the realistic aging process throughout the series. Ian Holm was transformed into the character Bilbo Baggins, and there were many layers of prosthetics and makeup used to age him so drastically.
In the trilogy, Bilbo was depicted at various stages of his life, so there had to be multiple makeup looks. The WETA Workshop in New Zealand created the prosthetics for the movies, and the application process for each character was about four hours.
It took a lot of work to transform the young Danny DeVito in the Penguin for Batman Returns. The makeup started by applying the beak-like nose because it was the first step to anchor everything else on the face.
DeVito wore two sets of fake teeth, and they created a bile-like fluid by mixing red and green food coloring with mouthwash. He said he would take a big mouthful of it and let it ooze out throughout the scene.
For the original iconic role of Pennywise the clown in the movie It, Tim Curry was transformed into this disturbing character. Bart J. Mixon was the lead to design the clown, and to prepare, he researched many clowns looks.
Curry wanted to wear as little prosthetics as possible, so the original idea had to be scaled down. In the end, Mixon and Curry compromised by keeping the makeup "light" and mixed in some of the "battery-acid" touches.
In the movie Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman played Winston Churchill which required major prosthetics. The makeup required Oldman to sit in the chair for four hours and he respected the artistry that went into this long process.
Makeup supervisor, David Malinowski said Oldman wouldn't sleep or eat while he had the makeup on to keep it from getting messed up and requiring touch-ups.
When Marlon Brando was cast as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, the studio was against the idea until they saw his audition tape. In the tape, he took shoe polish to make his hair black, and he slicked it back.
Brando stuffed his cheeks with Kleenex to give his mouth a bulldog look. The directors were so impressed with his use of household items that they knew he would be the perfect fit.
The beautiful Margot Robbie looked nothing like herself after transforming into Queen Elizabeth I for Mary Queen of Scots. Each day it would take her four hours to get into character. It started with them wrapping her hair and putting it in a bald cap followed by a wig. Robbie said the quickest part was the white makeup, blush, eyebrows, and lips.
The prosthetics were used to recreate the smallpox scars that Queen Elizabeth had as well as her nose shape. The makeup designer, Jenny Shircore, go creative with the placement of smallpox and where they would have left scars.
The most difficult part of the Vision's makeup was figuring out his coloring. Makeup artist Jeremy Woodhead didn't want the color to be bright red, so they mixed many colors to come up with the final color. In some lights, it looks pink, and in others, it looked red.
For Vision's character, they used minimal prosthetics so that he had the freedom to move. Also, they wanted to keep Paul Bettany's delicate features. The prosthetics ended up being used on his forehead, the back of his head, and neck, which left his face free.
For the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King's novel It, Bill Skarsgård played Pennywise and the makeup was much more intricate for this version. Director Andy Muschetti wanted the clown to have more child-like features so they added prosthetics to give Skarsgård's cheeks a fuller look.
Skarsgård said that many of the child-like qualities came through in the acting after he studied the movement of hyenas and bears. He wore fake teeth, and yellow contacts to add to the demonic look.
To achieve the transformation in the 1994 movie, The Mask, Jim Carrey would have to sit in makeup for four hours to have the prosthetics fitted properly. Carrey said that the time he spent in the makeup chair slowly drove him insane.
Carrey's ability to distort his face helped save a lot of money on special effects. He was able to do so much more than what they had intended in the original idea.
Here is another Lord of the Rings character who requires hours of prosthetic work. John Rhys-Davies played Gimli, and he was originally hesitant to take the role because he didn't think the movie would be successful, and it wouldn't be worth the years spent in prosthetics.
Fun fact: Rhys-Davis was missing a finger in real life, so they had to use a prosthetic one for the character. He would go around the set with the fake finger and blood to trick people into thinking he had an accident on set.
Robin Williams famously played Mrs. Doubtfire in the 1993 movie. He wore heavy prosthetics that took three to four hours to apply. In the movie, there is a scene that gives a quick look at the application process when he is trying out different looks to create the character.
He wore eight layers of foam latex pieces on his head, and they were all made fresh every week of filming. On top of the time it took to apply them, he would sit for hours at the end of the day to remove everything.
In Deadpool 2 Josh Brolin transformed in the comic book character, Cable who required many prosthetics all over his face and body. Makeup designer, Bill Corso, said it was more complicated than Deadpool's look.
The makeup team had to make it look like Brolin was morphing into a bio-mechanical body. Unlike the terminator makeup, Cable was infected with a disease that turned his skin into metal, so it had to look like he was mutating.
In The Grand Budapest Hotel, makeup artist Mark Coulier transformed Tilda Swinton into an 84-year-old Madame. He worked on movies such as Harry Potter, so he had plenty of experience with drastic transformations. To create the aged skin he used a soft silicone rubber that dissolved into the skin.
Coulier received an Oscar for his work along with Frances Hannon, who worked on the hair. Hannon came up with the idea of having the messed up lipstick like an old lady would do.
To get Angelina Jolie into character for Maleficent, the makeup team used prosthetics and fake teeth. Disney gave a behind-the-scenes look for the process of this transformation.
It starts with braiding her hair tightly to put into the horned head-piece and then placing prosthetics on her cheeks to make them have sharp edges. She also added fangs as the final touch once her makeup was complete.
Charlize Theron went from having poreless skin to looking like she had years of sun damage thanks to the help of special makeup. In the movie Monster, Theron had to gain some weight in order for her face to look like the character. She had to have the right weight for the jowls to look normal.
The makeup team completely restructured her face by changing her eyebrows and adding discolored ventured. They also gave her freckles, capillaries, and sun damage with the help of airbrush makeup.
In the 1988 fil, Beetlejuice, Michael Keaton was transformed by makeup artist Ve Neill. Keaton's one request for the character was that he wanted the hair to look like he had been electrocuted.
Tim Burton, wanted Keaton's character to have mold somewhere because the character lived in rocks. Ve Neill managed to create convincing mold that she applied to various crevices and to his hairline.
Out of all the versions of the Joker, Heath Ledger's was the most legendary. His face required prosthetics all around his mouth because of the Joker's distinct scarring. Conor O'Sullivan was the makeup artist for the movie, and he said there was no concept for the scarring, so he came up with it on his own. The punk and skinhead era inspired him.
It wasn't process to complete the transformation because they only added the bottom lip and scars. The entire costume was supposed to look disheveled so the makeup didn't have to be precise.