10:00am PT by Carolyn Giardina
'Wonder': Jacob Tremblay's 90-Minute Makeover Involved Custom Teeth and Full Facial Prosthetics
Makeup designer Arjen Tuiten admits he "can't think of any child who has worn full prosthetics as a lead" in a film before Wonder, the surprise hit that has grossed nearly $200 million on its $20 million budget since it was released in November by Lionsgate.
Based on R.J. Palacio's New York Times best-seller, Wonder is the story of Auggie Pullman, a young boy — played by Room's Jacob Tremblay, who was just 9 during filming — with Treacher Collins syndrome, a genetic condition that affects the face and eyes.
The young actor wore full silicone head, neck and face prosthetics with individually punched eyebrow hairs. "Underneath the wig, Jacob wore a skullcap made of carbon fiber, which contained a mechanism to pull his lower eyelids down so they appear droopy," explains Tuiten. "He also wore contact lenses to enlarge his irises, custom teeth and a hand-tied wig that was styled long to simulate the look of kids with Treacher Collins, who often try to hide their malformed ears."
Since a 9-year-old can be on set only for a limited number of hours each day, the amount of time it would take to get Tremblay camera-ready was a key consideration. "A makeup like this normally takes about three hours, but due to the time constraints involved in working with a minor, we were able to get it down to 90 minutes," says Tuiten. During the shoot, which lasted several months, rather than using multiple facial prosthetics, he opted for two primary pieces: one for Tremblay's neck, chin and lower cheeks and another for his forehead, nose and upper cheeks.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.