January 31, 2023

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Will MUAHs Awards Favor Transformation Follow the Oscars?

3 min read

Awards voters love a transformation: Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour,” Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and Christian Bale in “Vice” are among recent winners who have disappeared into their roles. And the recent Makeup and Hair Stylists Guild (MUAHS) nominations seem to be an indicator of this year’s continued trend.

Among this year’s MUAHS nominees is “The Batman,” which despite being released in March 2022, has been featured on numerous guild honor lists, including the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), Motion Picture of Sound Editors (MPSE).

The Batman, Colin Farrell, as Oswald Cobblepot / Penguin, 2022. © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection
Courtesy of Warner Bros/Everett Collection

The film’s adaptation belongs to Colin Farrell, who plays Oswald Cobblepot, a bruised and posse midlevel Gotham City gangster with the (unintended) nickname of “Penguin.”

Prosthetic makeup artist Michael Marino designed the look. Director Matt Reeves cited John Kazal, Sidney Greenstreet and Bob Hoskins as inspirations for the role. “I almost saw him as a throwback Warner Bros. gangster,” Reeves says. After four hours in the makeup chair, Pharrell became a penguin.

Blonde, Anna de Armas as Marilyn Monroe behind the scenes, Tina Rosler Kerwin (Department Head Makeup). No. Matt Kennedy / Netflix © 2022
Matt Kennedy/Netflix

MUAHS nominees Tina Roesler Kerwin, Elena Aroy, Jamie Leigh McIntosh and Cassie Lyons led Ana de Armas’ transformation into Marilyn Monroe for “Blonde” with wigs, false eyelashes and blue contact lenses.

THE WHALE, Brendan Fraser, 2022. © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection
Courtesy Everett Collection

Another transformation that surprised many was Brendan Fraser in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale.” The film follows Charlie, a 600-lb. A teacher who hides behind a computer screen — off camera — as she tries to preserve a relationship with her estranged daughter.

Prosthetics makeup designer Adrienne Morot enhanced Fraser’s appearance after the actor gained weight for the role using body parts made with a 3D printer. It took six hours to start the application process. During filming, it was reduced to four. Morot’s challenge was the epidemic. He didn’t have access to the actor the way he would normally measure up. This is where technology comes in. A producer visited Fraser’s home, and used an iPad, a laser imaging scan of Tara, to capture the data. Once Morot had the correct measurements, he used that data to create his requirements.

“In the digital world, I can blow everything up on a huge monitor and texture map to add all these details,” says Morot.

The 45-day shoot meant printing pieces every day, but as Charlie’s health deteriorated in the story, Morot had to make changes to the look of the prosthetics to reflect that downward spiral.

Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” received three MUAHS nominations, including hair, makeup and special effects. This past weekend, it took home the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Hair and Makeup.

The film follows a young Elvis inspired by gospel music and the blues as a 1970s Las Vegas performer. Austin Butler disappears into the role of Elvis Presley while makeup and hair work together with costume design to reflect the changing era and Presley’s iconic hair.

Prosthetics helped give Butler a more defined jawline.

Shane Thomas and Louise Coulston began using Butler’s real hair for early 50s scenes, but six wigs were used to make her hair as high as possible. Thomas and Coulston paid extra attention to Sideburns, especially during Presley’s Vegas era.

The makeup team kept prosthetics to a minimum for the younger Elvis, but like Presley
Older, Butler was given jaw and chin pieces. In his last performance in 1977, Luhrmann showed Elvis performing “Unchained Melody” at a grand piano.

Editors Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond cut Presley seamlessly. This transformation of his final days required Butler to wear a thick suit and a full face, chest and neck piece, prompting the audience to question “Is this Elvis or Austin?”

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