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Creature Design And Effects
Notorious for his design and transformation of David Naughton in John Landis' classic An American Werewolf in London, six-time Academy Award®- winning creature effects designer Rick Baker was asked to come aboard the production. He wanted to keep the look as close to the original Wolf Man as possible, while paying tribute to Jack Pierce's creation from the '40s. "Jack Pierce was my idol,” says Baker. "He was the guy I really admired, and I wanted to be true to what Jack did…but still modernize it. It's still very much the Jack Pierce Wolf Man, but with a little Rick Baker thrown in. I wanted my Wolfman to be a little more savage and look like he could do a lot more damage than Lon Chaney, Jr.”

For producer Rick Yorn, the idea that Del Toro would be transformed by one of the greatest-living movie-makeup artists was simply a must. He notes: "Rick was our first choice; he's a legend. You go to his shop and you see all the movies that he has worked on. It's absolutely a museum. For us, he did such an amazing job.”

Academy Award® nominee DAVE ELSEY, who co-created the look of the Wolfman with Baker, remembers the early days of preproduction as he and Baker were paying homage to the look of the fearsome creature. "The design brief we were given for the werewolf was very open, so we could almost come up with anything,” recalls Elsey. "We were sitting in Rick's workshop, and the more we talked, the more it seemed like the best thing would be to create a fresh version of what people would recognize as the Wolfman. Rick brings so many ideas to the table and so much enthusiasm for this type of film; it's a dream come true for us to be working on this classic creature.”

The producers and director Johnston were well aware that the sequences audiences most would anticipate in the film would be the transformation of the human protagonist into the title character. The Wolfman takes a leap forward in that department…with extensive help from the visual effects division, an area with which Johnston is intimately familiar.

Explains the director of the synergy: "The makeup is in several different pieces. It's applied individually. It's not a mask, so that allows Benicio to move and to express himself. We didn't want to rely completely on computer animation, because you can break this barrier of believability or break the laws of physics. What we're trying to do with these transformations is to keep it as absolutely real as possible and use VFX as a tool to extend what is possible with makeup.”

Baker tested the intricate makeup on himself before having Del Toro sit in his chair for the first time; it would be a process the men whittled down to three hours. Just to see what it would look and feel like from an actor's perspective, Baker applied the hair with glue, airbrushed his face, poured "blood” in his mouth and took pictures of himself as the wolf. "It's very different when you're a makeup artist and you're trying to get this guy ready and you know the clock is ticking so fast…it's a blur,” offers the makeup artist. "But when you're the guy in the chair, it's a really different time frame.” He adds that he's much more familiar with his creations than the talent behind them. "I spend a lot of my time with actors in the face that I've designed for them,” says Baker. "They come in the morning as themselves and almost immediately I stick this piece of rubber on them, and I don't see the actor anymore… but a creation. I recognize Benicio as the wolf; I hardly ever see him as himself.”

For Del Toro, Baker's team created an "appliance” made of foam and latex that covered the actor's brow and nose. The edges of Baker's appliance were made quite thin, so that they would seamlessly blend into the actor's skin when laid on top of his face. Wh

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