(Key Makeup Artist)


PART #1:

- How did you get involved in THE 13TH WARRIOR?
- Jeff Dawn, who was the department head, interviewed me in Vancouver, in February of 1997.
- When hired, weren't you surprised by the association of Disney with a movie first called "EATERS OF THE DEAD"?
- Yes, absolutely! That was a very common thing on people's minds!
- How long did you work on this project?
- We started pre-production in April 1997, in Campbell River, B.C., and wrapped in early November of 1997.
- So, you were on the set when that storm wreaked havoc on August 97...
- Wow, was I ever - I watched a truck get flattened by a falling tree!
- You are listed in the end credits as "key makeup artist". What was your task, exactly?
- By usual definition, the term "key" means either the head of the department, or, in this case, a second in command. As Jeff Dawn was the actual department head, and it was a large film, he hired three additional makeup artists in the "key" positions: myself, whose duty it was to create special (prosthetic) makeups, and be a liaison with the special makeup labs, in addition to applying makeups to lead actors (I was assigned to Dennis Storhøi/"Herger", and assisted Jeff with Antonio's makeup on occasion); Stan Edmonds, who was assigned to other lead actors, and spent a great deal of time in the mud, on set, as he tended to be our "point man"; and Victoria Down, who was our third key makeup artist, whose primary job it was to schedule and supervise directly the 35 or so other makeup artists responsible for the extras, and deal with other logistics, like supply.
- How many makeup crew members worked on the show? (Seeems to me there was a lot of extras in some crowd scenes, hence a lot of work for the makeup department...)
- On our biggest days, we had about 75 makeup artists and hair dressers, with more than half of that total being makeup artists.
- Working with McTiernan, how was it?
- Jeff Dawn, who had worked with McT before, on PREDATOR, had a good rapport with him. He was very open to suggestions, and we had sufficient time to try things, let McT check them out, and then fine tune them. Most of my time with McT was spent fine tuning the "Wendol" prosthetic makeups, looking at maquettes, etc.
- What were the director's (and producers') desires regarding makeups? I assume they wanted some sort of realism, right?
- Yes, the makeups had to be technically excellent, and not betray their existence on film, and I think we achieved that.
- Were you concerned about some kind of historical accuracy?
- Michael Crichton, who was our writer/producer, is a very learned man. When he wrote the original "Eaters of the dead", he had done a substantial amount of research on both the Vikings and Ibn Fadlan, the true life character that Antonio Banderas plays. But, as it was clearly a work of fiction "inspired" by fact, and because there were obvious similarities to many norse myths and folklore ("Beowulf" for example) as well as other common movie themes (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and THE SEVEN SAMURAI), it was decided that all of the research done would guide us and inspire us as film makers, but not restrict us from telling a good story. So, there was some creative licence used when it helped the story. The "Wendols", for example, were Neanderthal style men, and very primitive - a bit of a stretch, really.
- What are the main differences between makeups for a contemporary show and makeups for a "period" show like this?
- Well, truly, as a makeup artist, every show is a period movie. It doesn't matter what period you are depicting, all of the same elements come into play: what was the fashion of the day? what has history shown us as far as archeological information is concerned, if it is an "ancient" civilization? how did they wear their hair? why? what did they eat, were they healthy? A common gripe that I have with ancient period movies, for example, is "perfect teeth syndrome"!
- What did you do on the level of facial hair and beards, which usually are considered as symbolic of the Vikings?
- Many of our actors had time to grow their own beards before we shot, others had full false beards or partial augmentations, and our extras were mostly real beards, with maybe 20% false.
- What about the actresses makeups on this show?
- Unfortunately, like in many "Hollywood" movies, our actresses were glamourized slightly more than really necessary, although, we really strived for a naturally beautiful look, as much as was possible within our various influences. Very light bases or no bases at all, very little makeup for the most part, just accenting their best features - eyes and lips - just cast beautiful actresses!
- I have heard that several actresses were used to play the Wendol Mother and that many makeup effects were tested for that same part that didn't seem to suit the director... Any truth in that?
- Yes, that was the toughest makeup concept to nail down on the show! Crichton and McT couldn't agree on the concept for the Wendol Mother - we shot it with a woman in Campbell River originally, then in L.A. in January of 1998 with another actress and concept, then a final time in L.A. in July 98, with yet another actress and concept (the one that finally ended up in the movie).
- The movie was shot in remote areas, on location, out in the mud and dirt and the miserable weather: did that pose any particular problems for the makeups? (touch-up, continuity, etc.?)
- Yes, especially mud/dirt continuity (oddly enough) and blood continuity. Due to the heat, the actors were perspiring profusely, and the rain (both real and from towers) in the battle sequences necessitated using various formulas of "sta-dirts" and "sta-bloods", most of which we concocted ourselves, or by adjusting commercially available products to suit our needs. For instance, in many battle scenes, if an actor had a fresh cut on his face and it required a trickle of blood that had some definition to it, we would dress that trickle with a "sta-blood" that wouldn't wash off in the rain, but then we would add to it using a regular running blood for each take for that washing-away look.
- When creating makeups for the actors, did you take into account the (rather unusual for an Hollywood movie) lighting with fires and torches?
- Absolutely! Peter Menzies, our brilliant DP [director of photography], encouraged us to try different things to either enhance what may be lost because of the light, or mute what may have changed, but overall, after some experimentation and checking dailies, we found too much adjustment wasn't necessary, as we were all working within a very natural and somewhat muted and earthy colour pallette.
- Did you try to give each Viking his own sort of individual personality through makeups?
- Yes, as much as possible. For example, the tattoo on actor Richard Bremmer, aka "Skeld the superstitious" - we thought that a celtic style tattoo would add mystery to the character.
- If any, could you elaborate on some of the unused original ideas for the main Vikings characters?
- To be honest, I don't remember many, maybe a couple of possible bald looks, but that's it.
- Regarding the tattoos, I have seen several different versions myself, on photos... Did each of the main Vikings characters go through many looks like that before the final version being picked?
- Yes. As a makeup artist, it is common to explore a number of different concepts to give choices to the people making the decisions. Sometimes, a commitee decides - director, producer, actor - so the more choices you have for them, especially when based on research, the easier and more satisfying the process.
- Besides their costumes, I noticed three elements that helped characterize the main Vikings from one to another, in their final look: scars, colors of the hair, and braids. For example, Halga (Asbjørn Riis) has giant scars on his face and left biceps ; Weath (Tony Curran), the "Scottish" one, has red hair (I think it was colored, right?) ; and Rethel (Mischa Hausserman) wears a big braid on his side...
- Texture, texture, texture. To give these characters believability within their environment, time and profession, it stood to reason that all of the things you mention would add visual interest as well as a patina'd past.
- I was wondering... Did you test makeups with beard for the Buliwyf (Vladimir Kulich) character (he has no facial hair in the movie, which is a rather unusual look for a Viking, by the way...)?
- Yes, some beards were tested, but it was decided that the character looked more regal without a beard and it set him apart.
- Antonio Banderas' look is evolving throughout the movie, from the Baghdad opening scene to the final battle. Could you elaborate on the evolution of his makeup?
- Jeff was responsible for Antonio's look on the film - and, as Antonio loses his Arab look as he goes through the film, it signifies and mirrors his acceptance of this hugely different culture, he has become intertwined in.
- Did the actors give any suggestions for their character's makeup?
- Yes, all of the actors were fabulous and had great ideas about incorporating certain things into their "looks" - a definite team effort between the actor, director, makeup, hair, costumes, etc.
- Back in early 1997, there were rumours circulating about Arnold Schwarzenegger doing some cameo appearance in the movie. Did you hear about this on the set?
- Yes, although it was always just a rumour.
- During the tests (or when working in the makeup trailers), did you ever play movies on VCR, or film music, to put actors in the mood? I have heard about Richard Fleischer's THE VIKINGS, and BRAVEHEART, played during the shooting of THE 13TH WARRIOR...
- Yes, on a day-to-day basis. Although never too conciously, that we left up too the actors as individuals to play what they wished in their trailers. Sometimes, the music or videos were to inspire the makeup artists!
- What were your inspirations for the Wendol makeups?
- As a matter of fact, the Wendol makeups were one of my largest priorities on the film. John McTiernan felt that they should be very "early man" like - perhaps Neanderthal in nature, hence the low brow ridges, enlarged noses, and muzzle like lips. NEG, which was a makeup effects shop in Vancouver that I was heading up for Steve Johnson, got the contract to produce all of the Wendol appliances, and the master sculpts were done by a wonderful young sculptor named Sean Sansom, who I originally met when I hired him as an elf makeup artist on the Tim Allen movie THE SANTA CLAUSE in Toronto, in 1994. I would show McT and Jeff Dawn the maquettes, we would discuss them at length, make changes until we were all satisfied, then run them.
- Wasn't the Wendol leader's makeup more elaborated than the ones of his troops?
- The makeups for the Wendols were mostly similar: appliances, then a black tribal body paint with different colours of streaks and slashes, almost like lightning bolts in some cases... The makeup schemes were decided upon by the individual makeup artists, while doing each Wendol, but after the schemes and colour pallette decided upon mostly by Jeff Dawn and McT. Jeff also hired a very talented concept artist named Chauney Bawlff, who did many different sketches and colour versions for review. When it came to the leader's makeup, slightly more time was spent detailing it, and the antlers were added to the headress later, during additional photography in L.A.
- Most of the Wendols are wearing bear heads and, in the first part, they are supposed to be demons... Did that translate in their makeups in any way? For example, did the director ask their face to be darkened in order to make them more nondescript, or things like that?
- Making them black gave them nightime camouflage and made them more mysterious...
- I noticed paints on some of the Wendols' horses. Were they also designed and applied by your people?
- Designed by the makeup department to compliment the actor's designs, but applied, I believe, by the horse wranglers.



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