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Interview with Special Effects Make-Up Guru Rick Baker

Rick Baker Discusses the Changes in the Industry with the Popularity of CGI


Updated February 16, 2014
Rick Baker, the man behind the special make-up effects in such films as An American Werewolf in London, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Planet of the Apes (2001), and Hellboy, braved the huge red carpet lined with tons of screaming fans for the World Premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Before taking in the special screening of the Pirates sequel, make-up master Baker took the time for a short interview:

On Changes in the Industry with the Popularity and Availability of CGI Technology: "Well it did kind of cut out a lot of the animatronic part of it. You don’t get many of those jobs anymore, but it hasn’t affected the make-up stuff that much. A lot of what we did were the animatronic things and those jobs just don’t exist anymore. Or you do it and its just in one shot – and it’s not exciting to do that. But my two current projects have been make-up films, and I’ve done a lot of make-up in them. I think that’s still going strong."

Baker's Two Most Recent Projects: Baker did the make-up effects for Click starring Adam Sandler and Kate Beckinsale and is currently at work on the Eddie Murphy film, Norbit, in which the comedian/actor will play a variety of characters. For Click Baker had to create a fat suit for Sandler and old-age make-up for Sandler, Beckinsale and a few other members of the cast.

Baker explained the process he goes through to design the make-up effects: "It depends on the movie. On this one, Click, nobody wants to see Kate Beckinsale looking old and ugly, you know? So we kind of tried to be subtle with it, and same with Adam. We wanted Adam to be handsome as an older man – kind of like me (laughing). But you know I always try to be subtle with the stuff I do, but it’s tough. It depends on the film, how far they want you to go, how long they’re willing to sit in the make-up chair for it."

Remaining Still for the Make-Up Process: Baker said unlike other improvements in the make-up process, actors still have to endure hours of sitting patiently while the effects are applied. "You sit in the chair for two to three to four hours, depending on the make-up," said Baker. "I think the thing that changed the most is actors these days are less willing to sit for that long. It is a business that kind of rewards bad behavior. I think in the older days they were a little more patient and sat there like, ‘It’s your time to do your job.’ Now it’s like a lot of people are getting up, talking on the phone, doing their taxes, and it makes it tough."

Rick Baker's Personal Favorite Film Project: "I’m proud of most of the things that I’ve done. One of my favorites though that I just really have the most fond memories of and really think the work is still good, is a film called Harry and the Hendersons. I really loved that character and I think it still holds up. I just read an article about CG stuff and somebody was talking about animatronics and how they didn’t think they could do something better than Harry was in that film – and I did that in the 80s."

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