Voila! How to Turn Johnny Depp Into a Bald, Mean Gangster

Black Mass Trailer - H 2015

Black Mass Trailer - H 2015

Prosthetics, wigs and hours of preparation transformed Depp into 'Black Mass' subject James "Whitey" Bulger and Eddie Redmayne into transgender pioneer Lili Elbe.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Black Mass
Warner Bros.

Joel Harlow, Makeup Department Head
Gloria Casny, Hair Department Head

As James "Whitey" Bulger, Johnny Depp needed a receding hairline. Casny says the look was created by punching individual hairs into a silicone prosthetic — a pro­cess that took 22 hours (40 were made because they're not reusable). Harlow adds that Depp's look also included a prosthetic nose and forehead and contact lenses: Bulger "had piercing blue eyes, and that's what Johnny wanted," even though it meant two hours each day getting ready.

Mad Max
Warner Bros.

Lesley Vanderwalt, Hair and Makeup Designer

Nicholas Hoult portrays Nux, a war boy from the Citadel. Vanderwalt says such boys "are not well educated. They live to fight for their warlord." To reflect this, "Nux's face was skull-like with scars on his cheekbones. And they are covered in white paint to emulate their leader. His body is white with black eyes. And he had tumor growths on his neck." Vanderwalt adds that as Nux falls in love, "I gradually reduced the intensity of his makeup, softening it."

Mr. Holmes
Roadside Attractions

Dave Elsey, Hair and Makeup Designer

Ian McKellen, 76, plays Sherlock Holmes at two ages decades apart: 63 and 93. "In profile, I wanted the 'hawk-like' classic silhouette, so we used a prosthetic on the bridge and tip of his nose to sharpen it," says Elsey. For age 93, Elsey also used an old-age stipple on McKellen's face. "Ian and I worked out a series of moves and facial expressions to maximize the wrinkles we could get. I also added sun-damage detail, as this is a more relaxed Holmes who spends time in his garden."

The Danish Girl
Focus Features

Jan Sewell, Hair and Makeup Designer

Reteaming with Eddie Redmayne — who plays transgender pioneer Lili Elbe — after working with him on The Theory of Everything, Sewell says the two "talked about feminization of someone who is transitioning." Their research convinced them Lili "would overfeminize in the beginning, so we gave Eddie access to wigs" and gradually reduced the amount of makeup. They realized that Eddie's skin tone matched Lili's in the original paintings by her wife, Gerda. "And the iconic red wig was born."