YOU'D BETTER WATCH OUT!
There was once a time when filmmakers underestimated what makeup could do, these days filmmakers take these effects for granted. When Ron Howard called Rick Baker, it was because he knew every actor needed elaborate makeup effects.
"I got a call from Ron," says Baker, "and he said something like, `I don't know if you read that I was doing THE GRINCH, but I figured you'd wonder how long it was going to take me before I called you.' I said, I did hear that was happening and I was hoping that you might call. He said, `yeah, we're doing it, and we'd like you to be involved. Are you interested?' And I said, of course."
Rick Bakers group of talented artists at his company CINNOVATION; Kazuhiro Tsuji, Matt Rose, Eddie Yang and Mich DeVane did concept sculptures of the characters. Baker says "I would separate them into different rooms in the shop and wouldn't let them look at each other's work. I find a lot of times if you've got the guys sitting next to each other sculpting, they look over at what the other guy's doing and pretty soon you've got these homogenized designs. The whole reason for having different people working on is to get different ideas and approaches. I wasn't looking at their stuff either. I did one Grinch design that I thought was a good practical approach. Something I knew he could move well and would be a fairly comfortable makeup and still try to capture the character. What I didn't really like about it was the nose. I placed it where his nose was so he could breathe. It Really didn't look as much like the Grinch because of that."
Doing a test makeup on himself Baker said, "I thought it would be easier to convince them that it's a good way to go when they see it as a makeup and not just a clay thing. I got a call from Ron on Christmas Eve. He said, `This is good but I think it's too much. It doesn't look enough like Jim.' Well, that's because it's on me, for one." Baker said. " We're very different. The differences in the design where my nose is so much bigger. But listen, I think it's a pretty good way to go. And he [Ron] said, ` We'll see. We kind of liked that other one that you did'"
"Jim really wanted to go with a minimal approach to begin with, so we tried a very small appliance on him, a little brow cover thing." says Baker " I didn't think it was enough. To make a long story short, we went through at least half a dozen tests. It kept coming back to `just paint him green, because he can make this cool Grinch expression.' I was heartbroken. I just had to get away because I was really disappointed. So I'm in my Room and Kazu is finishing the makeup and I was working on trying to come up with a new approach when Jim got up to take a break. He says, `What's this?' And it was when I did a Grinch makeup on myself back at Christmas time. Jim says, `This is what the Grinch should look like. This is the Grinch.' My jaw just kind of dropped. I was glad to hear him say that. I said, I agree, this is what I feel that the Grinch should be. But everybody's had different ideas. You said a few seconds before that you wanted to be painted green. He said, `I'll go for it, if I can look like this.' So I showed him the video of me in the Grinch makeup and he got more excited about it. So we went all the way back to where we were four months before. But I was really glad to see him going in that direction.
Baker says, " It takes two and a half hours makeup time for Jim. That's pretty good for as elaborate as it was. But it would always take longer because of all the breaks. Jim definitely found the whole process torturous. It is a lot more difficult then coming in and getting a base rubbed on your face and getting out the chair in ten minutes. He's a very hyperactive Guy and he has a hard time sitting still in the chair. I definitely understand that. Any time I'm in an airplane for four and a half-hours, I have a really hard time with it myself. I feel that every makeup artist working with appliances should go through the process himself or herself. The perspective form the makeup artist's point of view is that the time whizzes by, the performer's perspective is that time is standing still."