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Rick Baker - The Magic of His Make-Up
In the world of special effects make-up, one name stands out: Rick Baker. Baker has won six Academy Awards® in the category of Best Make-Up for his work on the films "How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” "Men in Black,” "The Nutty Professor,” "Ed Wood,” "Harry and the Hendersons” and "An American Werewolf in London.” As one of the most honored artists in motion picture history, the filmmakers were overjoyed that Baker agreed to work on their project.

"It took him nine months to create these looks,” recalls Davis. "When we first went in, we wanted to start the movie earlier. But Rick Baker said, "If I'm going to do the movie, it's got to be perfect.' And I didn't completely appreciate what perfection meant until the day we were on the set and we were ready to shoot. Eddie walked out dressed as Mr. Wong. And from the eyelids down, it was imperceptible that there was Eddie Murphy in there.”

"What came to my mind when I first read the script,” Baker says, "Was, it's going to be incredibly difficult to do. These kind of make-ups are very tough to do, human make-ups. They're the ones that fail the most often, and, they're much harder than doing an alien or a monster.

"It was just challenging to do a body that big that was going to be naked, and that's where we spent a lot of our time and energy - developing this body. It would look real and move real. And also, just the challenge of turning Eddie into an Asian, an old Asian man, you know, because he's … not Asian, you know. And he's not an old Jewish man, either. But, I knew that it would be an interesting challenge and it would be fun to see what Eddie does with it, when he's made up.”

"On a movie like this, where the make-up is everything to these characters,” comments Robbins, "to have the best guy ever, the guy who sort of invented it be involved, really makes me comfortable knowing that it's going to be great. And I would just marvel at the make-up. It took forever every day but it was worth it. 

"Even Eddie, who was in the editing room the other day, was like, ‘God, look at that make-up. Look at Mr. Wong. I can't believe it.' Even he who sat in the make-up chair for 75 days was still marveling at it. It's really quite brilliant.”

Allowing Baker and his team the time they needed to cast, create, test, sculpt, paint and re-test resulted in two astonishingly visual characters – Rasputia and Mr. Wong.

The final features of Rasputia were carefully worked out. Her face was constructed out of nine pieces of foam latex. Each piece was then carefully painted to look like skin. 

Prosthetic makeup supervisor Kazuhiro Tsuji applied each piece to Murphy's face one at a time each day he worked as Rasputia. This process took two hours of concentrated and painstaking work. 

Tsuji was also the artist on set when Murphy was transformed into Mr. Wong. 

So the creative team created Mr. Wong from scratch. After the design was completed, Tsuji applied 11 individual and carefully shaped pieces of silicon to Murphy's face. This material is delicate and needed to be applied cautiously. Therefore, it actually took longer to turn Murphy into Mr. Wong than it did to turn him into Rasputia. Tsuji usually needed three and a half hours of time to create the Asian orphanage owner.

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