Matt Rose, Makeup Artist on 'Hellboy' and 'Ed Wood,' Dies at 53

Matt Rose-Getty-P-2019
Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

He worked often with legends Stan Winston and Rick Baker. "If our craft ever had a golden age, he was one of the Titans," says Guillermo del Toro.

Matt Rose, an admired makeup artist and sculptor who worked on the first two Hellboy films, Ed Wood and the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes, has died. He was 53.

Rose died Friday at his home in Burbank, his best friend and business partner, Chad Waters, told The Hollywood Reporter. The family was awaiting a coroner's report as to the cause of death, but "all signs point to natural causes."

A protege of makeup legends Stan Winston and Rick Baker — he spent 15 years at the latter's Cinovation Studios in Glendale — Rose also contributed to other notable effects-driven films like Aliens (1986), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) and The Nutty Professor (1996).

According to a story on the website Daily Dead, Rose and Waters figured that actor Ron Perlman would be just perfect for Hellboy, so they used his likeness for the sculptures that they presented to director Guillermo del Toro to get the 2004 movie — based on the Dark Horse Comics' half-demon character — rolling.

"Once Hellboy was greenlit, Matt and Chad spent six months in Prague, working on Ron nearly every single day, and when it comes to the characters and creatures he had created throughout his entire career, Hellboy was one of his very favorites," Heather Wixson, who recently interviewed Rose, wrote on the site.

On Twitter, Del Toro lamented Rose's death: "Matt Rose passing hurts deep. If our craft ever had a golden age, he was one of the Titans. And a real pal: approachable, generous and full of love."

And on Instagram, Baker wrote that Rose "never failed to make me look good."

"I have been lucky enough to have [had] some of the most amazingly talented artists work with me on many projects, but none more talented than Matt," he continued. "Matt could sculpt a maquette in no time, and they didn't look like a quick sculpt but a piece of art."

Rose did prosthetics for Martin Landau on Tim Burton's Ed Wood (1994), and the actor went on to win an Oscar for his portrayal of Dracula star Bela Lugosi. (Baker, Ve Neill and Yolanda Toussieng shared the Academy Award for best makeup.)

Rose had first collaborated with Burton on Beetlejuice (1988).

Rose also worked with Baker as a sculptor on the Joel Schumacher films Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), on the first two Men in Black films from Barry Sonnenfeld and on Burton's Planet of the Apes.

His more recent credits included Star Trek Beyond (2016) and the 2017 Netflix movie Bright.

Born Oct. 22, 1965, Rose was raised in San Jose, Calif., and sculpted monsters out of clay as a kid. One of his first professional jobs came at the L.A. Effects Group, where he designed miniatures for Winston on James Cameron's Aliens.

That gig led to more work with Winston on such films as Invaders From Mars (1986), Predator (1987) and The Monster Squad (1987). 

Rose went on to work alongside Baker on about two dozen films; those included Harry and the Hendersons (1987), Gorillas in the Mist (1988), The Rocketeer (1991), Wolf (1994), Mighty Joe Young (1998), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) and The Ring (2002).

"I love this industry. I love the craft," Rose said in his interview with Wixson. "I love everything about it, but the best thing out of my career is knowing all of my colleagues. I really mean that. Even if you have arguments, there is still this sense of camaraderie that we all share. We have all been in the same battles together, and we understand the importance of being supportive for each other, even if we don't always agree 100 percent on everything." 

Survivors include his parents Anna and Mike; siblings Michael, Pamella, Cathy, Mark and Stephanie; and six nieces and nephews.