As the godawful Bohemian Rhapsody’s reception at last year’s Academy Awards showed, trying to make an actor look like another famous person with bad prosthetics doesn’t necessarily mean that people will take your movie less seriously. That said, when makeup effects work well, as is the case with Charlize Theron’s Oscar-nominated transformation into Megyn Kelly for Bombshell, the result is worth celebrating.
Theron’s is believable as Kelly, mostly because she nails the latter’s cadence and screen presence, but also because of makeup effects artist Kazu Hiro’s work. IndieWire’s Bill Desowitz spoke to Hiro, who won an Oscar for turning Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, about how he approached making Theron resemble the former Fox News anchor.
Hiro described having to use a “nose plug and tip” along with “jaw and chin pieces” to change Theron’s “soft, round face” into Kelly’s “strong, angular face.” Hiro told Desowitz that hair and makeup artists usually “tend to avoid” the kind of approach they took “because each [prosthetic] piece is so small and was hard to maintain on set.”
“You see right away if it’s not applied well. It has to be applied in the exact position every day,” he added, mentioning that he used “scanned data to make another life cast of Charlize to sculpt just the eyelids” (which was “changed ... six times”). To see how intensive the process was, check out the IndieWire piece, which also includes a time-lapse video of Theron sitting down in the makeup chair as herself before eventually emerging as Kelly.
Our brains filled with images of Rami Malek’s face stuffed chipmunk-like with fake teeth, the actor doing his best to channel Freddie Mercury through a slobbery mouthful of ill-advised prosthetics, we can see that Hiro’s careful work was worthwhile.
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