'Maleficent' to 'Foxcatcher': Deconstructing the Makeup and Hairstyling Shortlist

Steve Carell Foxcatcher - H 2014

Steve Carell Foxcatcher - H 2014

Earlier this month, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced a shortlist of seven films that remain contenders for the makeup and hairstyling Oscar. Below is a look at the work on Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy, Maleficent, Noah and The Theory of Everything. The final film on the shortlist is The Amazing Spider-Man 2, whose representatives didn't respond to requests for this story.

On Jan. 10 the Academy's makeup artists and hairstylists branch will view the work on the seven films and select three nominees for the category.


Makeup department head Bill Corso and director Bennett Miller knew the damaged character John Du Pont couldn't look like the actor who played him, the widely recognized Steve Carell. "Steve has very distinctive hair and eyebrows, so the first thing I did was get rid of those," Corso explains. "I used a prosthetic that covered his eyebrows. Then I put pale, thin eyebrows on him. I also added a nose prosthetic. Du Pont also had very small teeth, but Steve has big, white movie-star teeth. We gave Steve little tiny teeth, and in doing so, we decided to add 'plumpers' to the teeth —almost like Marlon Brando in The Godfather. It changed the shape of his month, which altered his facial shape." The look was completed with a lower-lip prosthetic, contact lenses to make his eyes darker, makeup to make his skin more pale and translucent, and by moving his hairline to expose more forehead.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

There was a lot of work needed for the colorful ensemble cast of Grand Budapest, including for the character Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), who required an elegant but aged look. "I didn't want the prosthetics to overtake Tilda's ability to act within them," hair, makeup and prosthetic designer Frances Hannon said, adding that the actress wore thin prosthetics, including cheek pieces, elongated ear lobes and 'chicken' neck. "Her hairstyle had to be a throw back on the past, Edwardian but moving into the '30s, and it needed to be opulent, balancing the prosthetics with the volume of hair. For her makeup, she doesn't necessarily stand in front of a mirror, so her lipstick was slightly wonky and her eye shadow was applied with a thick stroke."

There were also hundreds of mustaches required. "For the principals, every mustache style said something about their characters," related Hannon. "M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) valued perfection, so he had a neat, tight mustache. [Lobby boy] Zero (Tony Revolori) originally had none, but he wanted to copy Gustave, so he drew on a pencil one. As Zero got more confident, he grew his own. So it gives a passage of time as he developed as well."

Guardians of the Galaxy

"The shear volume of characters in prosthetics was outrageous. I would say this was one of the key challenges, to make sure all the actors had the same height level of artistry working on their looks day in day out," said special effects makeup designer David White of creating this assembly of Marvel characters. This included Gamora (Zoe Saldana), for whom a lot of makeup testing was required to get the right tone of green for her skin. "Drax (Dave Bautista) was a massive physical challenge for the day-to-day application, and Nebula (Karen Gillan) was a multi-medium prosthetic, with a complex range of colors and five-piece prosthetic applied over a four and a half hour sitting," White said.


"We were working with two really well known faces: Angelina Jolie and the character from the animated film," says seven-time Oscar-winning special effects makeup artist Rick Baker. "We didn't want to just duplicate the look on the animated film, so I had to design something that gave us the elements of Maleficent and of Angelica Jolie.

"I was afraid to mess with [Jolie's] face. She's so beautiful," he said, noting that he sought out to make the character evil, but in an elegant way. He said a challenge was applying silicon cheekbone appliances and making them look seamless. Jolie also wore pointy ears and horns. "We then applied beauty makeup, and we softened her look in the [postproduction process of digital color grading]. Contacts gave her more intense eyes."


Noah was a massive undertaking for Adrien Morot, who was tasked with makeup effects and creature design. Anthony Hopkins (Methuselah) needed to be an "incredibly old man" and the work involved a combination of effects such as a silicon neck and "painting thousands of wrinkles on his face, which took about two and a half hours," Morot said, adding that Ray Winstone's Tubal-cain had been though many battles, therefore "his face is covered in scares. Ray's character also goes through hell onscreen — he's thrown against the ark and his face gets lacerated."

For the characters that spent nine months on the ark, the team also had to reflect the passage of time with the hair and makeup choices, including how wounds would heal or hair would grow. Morot's work on the production also entailed contributing effects to the puppets and animatronic mammals that populated the ark.

The Theory of Everything

Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking, the renowned astrophysicist who suffered from a motor neuron disease, and hair, makeup and prosthetic designer Jan Sewell had to allow audiences to see him transform from a healthy, 21-year-old through a slow transformation as the disease progressed into more advanced stages. "I had some very fine prosthetic pieces made, for instance ears because I had to change the scale of his face," she said. "In the beginning Eddie always had clips behind his ears to make them come out a bit. Halfway through we added ear lobes and different mouth pieces. For the end, I had a head shape made so you got the visual effect that the face was starting to slope, and had his ears made bigger so it looked like he was starting to shrink." To make Redmayne appear boney, by this point he also had prostatic shoulders, kneecaps — even hands.

E-mail: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA