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September 25, 2015
Oscars: Makeup in Prank-Heavy 'Bad Grandpa' Was Serious Business
Star Johnny Knoxville and lead artist Stephen Prouty tell The Hollywood Reporter about the film's surprise Academy Award nomination and why their film was held to a higher standard.
Before this week, most people probably wouldn't have used the phrase "Oscar hopeful" to describe Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. But on Thursday, Paramount's prank-filled movie -- starring Johnny Knoxville as 86-year-old Jackass character Irving Zisman going on a wild cross-country road trip with his grandson -- was nominated for an Academy Award for best makeup and hairstyling.
Lead makeup effects artist Stephen Prouty tells The Hollywood Reporter he was "shocked" by the nomination, claiming that he didn't seriously think the film would get a nomination.
"We really didn't think about it while we were shooting," he says. "We joked around a couple of times throughout the shoot that, 'Oh, we should put this up for an Oscar' or whatever, just kidding around. But once the project was done, we actually gave it serious consideration. We thought we should submit this. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?"
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Once the film made the list of the final seven candidates for the makeup and hairstyling nominations, Knoxville says he tried to do everything he could to make sure the film got a much deserved nod.
"At that point, we all got in on the discussion, and [were] trying to work with Paramount to see what we could do to get Stephen and the team the nomination," he explains, adding that they're now working to help Prouty and his makeup team get the win. "We all want it for them very bad, so we're trying to do whatever we can, because I feel they deserve to win."
Indeed, the makeup behind the prank-filled comedy was serious business. It took nearly three hours every day to apply the 11 prosthetics and other makeup to transform Knoxville into an old man, Prouty explains. He adds that three makeup artists, with him taking the lead, were necessary to create Knoxville's disguise.
And Knoxville points out that flawless makeup was crucial to the film, with his appearance needing to be even more perfect than those of characters in other movies.
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"Without the makeup, this movie doesn't exist," he says. "And our movie was held to standards that no other movie was held to: It had to look real onscreen like all the other movies, but I was nose-to-nose with people in bright sunlight, so if they recognize it's makeup, the prank is up. And no one ever recognized it was makeup."
Prouty says that creating a truly convincing appearance was the biggest challenge with Bad Grandpa's makeup, "People know what old people look like in real life, so if they see something on the makeup that's a tell, that's a giveaway -- they're going to spot it immediately -- so our challenge was to make sure there was nothing there that would give him away, that could give up the gag," he tells THR.
And he too thinks that they were pretty successful, noting that even an emergency room physician inches away from Knoxville as Zisman didn't realize that he was talking to a younger man in disguise.
Prouty adds that being outside in direct sunlight, where Knoxville did most of his pranks, is when makeup can really be exposed. During the shoot, Knoxville notes there were no trailers, so the makeup team had to wait in a little minivan to do touch-ups.
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Although Knoxville says he was initially dreading having to spend three hours every day getting his makeup done, that time helped him prepare for the pranks and scenes he had to film. And, by discussing some of the scenes in the makeup room, some of the makeup team's lines made it into the movie, he says. "So they contributed in so many ways," he adds.
He also points out that the makeup team was responsible for creating the duality of a character with a lively, sympathetic face who says terrible things.
Prouty worked on the prior three Jackass films and was previously nominated for three Emmys. Although he came up empty-handed at the Creative Arts Emmys, Prouty says he "absolutely" plans to attend the Oscars.
"I'll definitely be there. I'm very excited to attend and be a part of it," he says.