- BORIS KARLOFF
Jack Pierce created several famous make-up jobs for Universal in the ‘30s and ‘40s, but by far the most iconic is the flat-headed, bolt-necked Frankenstein’s Monster. It took Boris Karloff, however, to inhabit the make-up, acting his way out from behind the greasepaint and mortician’s wax to deliver a nuanced portrait of a childlike creature, prone to rage but also capable of great tenderness.
You need only compare Karloff’s monster to the later versions attempted by Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi to see the extent of his achievement. The clumsily lurching caricature of popular misconception owes everything to those performances, and nothing at all to Karloff’s tragically bewildered victim.
- DOUG JONES
PAN’S LABYRINTH (2006)
THE CURRENT GO-TO GUY FOR HEAVY
prosthetics work. Doug Jones plays both the Pale Man and the Faun in Guillermo del Toro’s Pans labyrinth Where the Pale Man is a great set piece monster for the trailer, it’s the Faun you remember after the credits roll Jones gives a twitchy unnerving performance as the ingratiating Pan his jagged movements and earth-toned costume making him seem like a Svankmajer puppet animated from within.
- MARTIN LANDAU
ED WOOD (1994)
A DECEPTIVE ONE THIS; MARTIN LANDAU’S
turn as Bela Lugosi in Tim Burtons biopic is not obvious as a full mask job… until you realise he no longer looks anything like Martin Landau. A subtle Oscar-winning creation by Rick Baker. Landau is transformed into almost a caricature of Lugosi, but the effect is softened by Stefan Czapsky’s black-and-white photography, and oilset by the oddball nature of the project itself (and much of the rest of the cast). Bakers work effectively but unobtrusively enhances Landaus touchingly weary performance as the morphine-riddled ex-actor.
- LON CHANEY’S PIONEERING WORK
The phantom of the opera (1925)
As The Man Of A Thousand FacesTM demonstrated nothing, if not a selfless dedication to his art. As the Phantom, his self-designed make over involved fish skin, glue, egg membranes draped over his eyeballs and a wire-and-rubber device which sliced into his nose until it bled But while he may have treated make-up application as an extreme sport. Chaney’s ability to elicit sympathy for his monsters remains his greatest achievement.
- HAL PACINO
Dick Tracy (1990)
A RARE EXAMPLE OF AL
Pacino playing broadly and exuberantly for laughs. Big Boy Caprice is a kind of amped-up version of De Niro’s Al Capone crossed with Richard III and P T Barnum. With a fondness for nightclub musical numbers and a penchant for misquoting dead presidents Pacino can sometimes be mannered, but this works to his favour playing a cartoon grotesque, and despite being practically unrecognisable encased m facial prosthetics and a body suit that gives turn the physique of a sock full of walnuts, he’s still unmistakable.
- KIM HUNTER
Planet of Apes (1968)
ARGUABLY THE KEY APE ROLE IN THE
original Planet Of The Apes belongs to Roddy McDewall, who turned out for three sequels and a TV series. Maurice Evans also deserves honourable mention as the prickly Dr. Zaius, but it’s Kim Hunter’s chimpanzee psychologist Zira that’s the standout a tour de force of indignant frustration, flirty shyness and subtle chimp mannerisms. Heston had the two most memorable lines in “Damn dim ape!” and “Damn you all to hell!”, but Zira’s “You’re so damn ugly” runs them a close third.
Star Wars (1977)
CHEWBACCA MAY HAVE BEEN
Sneeringly referred to as “the dog” by unconvinced crew members, but Peter Mayhew’s essentially mime based performance under all the fur is incredibly nuanced. Forget the scenes where he’s rushing around with a blaster (sorry, bowcaster”) – though he does it with aplomb – and consider the quieter moments irritability bordering on violence at the chessboard and exasperated embarrassment at Han’s love life far more than a walking carpet.
- RON PERLMAN
LIKE HIS CO-STAR DOUG JONES. PERLMAN
is not one to shy away from being buried under latex, and his prior stints under prosthetics have included three seasons of Beauty And The Beast and a near-wordless turn in Star Trek Nemesis. As Hellboy in his long-time friend and collaborator Guillermo del Toro’s comic book adaptation, he bears a superficial resemblance to Tim Curry in Ridley Scott’s Legend, but replaces Curry’s wordily immobile gravitas with a fully rounded character taciturn and petulant, but wryly humorous and quick to spring into action. It isn’t long before you almost stop the crimson skin and sawn-off horns, Almost.
- JOHN HURT
The elephant man (1980)
THESE DAYS WE RE USED TO THE STAR
of a David Lynch film being the twisted psyche of David Lynch himself, but pre-Twin Peaks and his career-low disaster Dune, the director could be found on restrained form crafting The Elephant Man for producer Mel Brooks Among a company of British character actors, John Hurt’s pitiable John Merrick is the unforgettable centrepiece. Christopher fucker’s meticulous prosthetic design prompted the creation of a new Academy Award category for best make-up.
- GARY OLDMAN
SOME ACTORS OPT TO FIGHT
then way out from behind an extensive make-up job. while others allow it to consume them Gary Oldman’s Mason Verger, the appallingly mangled, killer-pig-breeding sole surviving victim of Hannibal Lecter, was so immersive that the studio were able to turn the actor’s request for no screen credit to then advantage, attempting to spin some mystery and buzz out of who was actually under the latex An oblique tribute to Karloff’s? credit in Frankenstein?