Make Up Artist    Issue #48

Captive Audience: The Passion

Is there anybody in the free world who still hasn't heard of The Passion of The Christ? Mel Gibson's gritty, unflinching look at the final hours of Christ’s life has become one of the most controversial projects in film history, giving everyone involved with the production a massive dose of attention. That includes Keith Vanderlaan, whose company Captive Audience Productions was responsible for the film's shocking make-up effects work. Contributing writer Joe Nazzaro talks to Vanderlaan about The Passion and their contribution to various projects that include Van Helsing, White Chicks, The Whole Ten Yards, Pirates of the Caribbean and Bulletproof Monk.

Excerpt dealing with Van Helsing:

In sharp contrast to The Passion’s disturbing ultra-realism, Van Helsing is a fantasy-based action adventure that revamps a number of Universal’s classic creatures.  Set in the late 19th century, it stars Hugh Jackman as the eponymous monster hunter who crosses paths with Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), the Wolf Man (Will Kemp) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Schuler Hensley).  Captive Audience came aboard the project in June 2002, contributing thousands of designs for various characters before focusing their efforts on creating a new version of Frankenstein’s creation.  “It was concerning at the beginning,” says Vanderlaan.  “What are we going to do to avoid looking like every other Frankenstein that’s been created I the past?  We started talking about the realism of it:  what would have been available to use in putting this creature together?  Would it have been rivets and clasps?  Would there have been a glass dome, bits and pieces of metal?  What would it look like?”
“A then we started saying, if Frankenstein was piecing body parts together, wouldn’t they be asymmetrical and somewhat mismatched?  Yes, of course!  He’s a genius in putting this monster together, but there have to be flaws, so that’s really what we focused on.  What would the flaws be?  Where would the skin not come together properly?  Where would it still look deteriorated?  Of course, it wouldn’t look fully alive, so there was no reason to use so many of the classic Frankenstein characteristics.  There were a couple that were there because I think the audience expects it, and once we knew who the actor was, so much of  what goes into the design process is what the actor looks like.  Schuler Hensley has a very distinct look, but it isn’t chiseled hard features or anything like that.  He looks like a big, Midwestern guy, and we were able to tailor the look of his face to that.
“For the head and face, we used silicone, and for the torso area, I was concerned that we’ve seen creatures in big foam rubber suits before, and it always looks like a foam rubber suit.  I couldn’t live with the idea of doing that again, so we patchworked silicone and foam latex together.  And if he’s a patchwork of different body parts, perhaps from different people, wouldn’t the skin tones or flesh qualities be different in certain areas?  There are also mechanical pieces across his waist area, down one leg and one arm.  The idea was that the muscle structure may not have been completely reattached properly so he’d need this mechanical piece to help motivate or give him strength in those limbs that weren’t completely successful in being put back together.”