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THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK

About The Mask

Together with Director Randall Wallace, three other men were responsible for the final look of the iron mask: Makeup Supervisor Giannetto de Rossi, Leonardo DiCaprio and Luigi Sebastiani del Grande, the artist who actually made it.

de Rossi recalls the sometimes-turbulent process which took him to the final product: "I saw only one mask from a previous movie in 1934-35, and it was terrible because it had the influence of Metropolis. We all wanted something unique. Randall tried to explain what he saw in his mind, but sometimes it is difficult to express these images in words. We did two or three sculptures, two or three molds and it kept changing and evolving. Then we tried to fit it on Leonardo and thank God, he was so professional that he wanted to really feel the tightness of the mask. So for me, it was magnificent, because I could make it smaller and smaller and in the end, I think we achieved something very interesting because this mask has a particular look."

de Rossi adds that "the final product is a creature of different fathers. Of course, I was responsible to sculpt it, so the mask is my daughter, but Randall is the godfather. For the proportions, Leonardo is another godfather. Without him suffering inside the mask, I could never make it this tight and when, you see it on the screen, in the final scene, when he's walking behind the Musketeers, you see this tiny head compressed inside this mask. It's quite impressive and it's thanks to him. Then of course, I added some rust to it and then the lock at the back."

The ultimate goal was to give the mask a personality of its own, something, which de Rossi is confident was achieved: "The mask in this movie is one character. I'm very happy because this mask with Leonardo's eyes in it can compete at the same level than any other member of the cast."

Leonardo DiCaprio gave the mask life and describes what it feels like to inhabit and how it defined the character of Philippe: "It definitely gets claustrophobic, and, within ten minutes of being in there, I can almost bash my head against the wall with frustration. It must become like part of your own body after a while. I wore it around for a while and got used to it; it becomes a part of you and you have to fight all the urges you have to scratch your face off.

"I came to this project thinking that this guy would be mentally disabled from being in this mask for so long. The thing I found that was interesting when I talked to Randy about it is that he saw Philippe as a Nelson Mandela figure, who was trapped in a place for so long and did only good while he was enclosed by himself. Mandela came out and ended up ruling his country. The mind must take over the body and he's able to control himself and not completely lose it, which I found very interesting and which I didn't expect."

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