Rick Baker & Harry Knowles howls at the full moon from the set of THE WOLFMAN!!!
Published at: Nov. 4, 2009, 2:20 a.m. CST by headgeek
Hey folks, Harry here with something a bit out of the ordinary. What you have below isn't a formal interview. Back around the start of the year, I went to London to visit THE WOLFMAN set. It was the last week of shooting principal photography and it had been a long and trouble filled beginning. Mark Romanek, the film's original director had left shortly before photography was to begin. Why'd he leave? From my understanding, the conditions were growing pretty "hairy" over many creative and budgetary issues - and Mark left over them. Enter Joe Johnston, who entered with his own vision and take on the material that while he shared much of Mark's vision, he had his own vision for the project as well. There was a strike impending and it was a very difficult situation. All of that said, at the point I came to set, I found a very divided house. Different producers wanting different things, Actors wanting more time to explore character, Rick wanting to do more with his amazing make-up and the visual effects supervisor wanting to do more with CG. After I left set there was an extended amount of additional shooting that was done. Many of the "issues" that come up in these interviews wound up being addressed to one degree or another - as you'll see in a brief Q&A I did with producer Scott Stuber.
But on top of that, this was not an interview - this was the discussion that took place as Rick Baker showed me around the make-up staging grounds for THE WOLFMAN. This was an informal chat that I was recording - and everyone was aware that I was recording it. As a result - there's story telling and informal chatting. I've met Rick a few times and we did some catching up. SO. What you have below is a FLY ON THE WALL chat with me, Rick Baker, Father Geek and some of his team. Personally I find it quite telling. There are quite a few moments where we are all collectively geeking out over the same things.
Rick Baker: Hey Harry, it’s nice to see you.
Harry: Hey Rick, it’s nice seeing you again.
Rick Baker: Crazy stuff.
Harry: Just fun. It’s way more exactly what I want to see from you than when I visited you on THE GRINCH. I loved THE GRINCH stuff, but WOLFMAN stuff is my favorite.
Rick Baker: Yeah, it’s cool. It’s fun and it’s nice that we are getting to do some makeup and laying some hair and stuff, you know?
[At this point I see an old gray & white haired werewolf. An exquisite design. Just beautiful.]
Harry: You doing an old wolfman, that’s cool.
[Rick Turns to ask “Is he…?” A voice replies “Yes, Harry’s in on it!]
Rick Baker: This was one of the first things we did for the other wolf, but it’s not the design we ended up using. We actually did, well on all of these things we did a whole bunch of designs, but we did a number of variations on him, but because of some story points and stuff, the white hair one didn’t work with in the story, so we had to change the hair more. I thought it was kind of interesting and liked some stuff about it.
Harry: Yeah, I do like that.
Rick Baker: Yeah, we got one that was completely white actually and that one was kind of cool.
Harry: Yeah, someone had said it was a little yeti-ish or that was the complaint that somebody had had. Me, I like that a lot. [Laughs]
Rick Baker: I thought people would dig it too.
Father Geek: I think the real problem was it wasn’t very stealthy, you know, being white and having to hide in shadows and things, there’s quite a different lighting problem.
Harry: Yeah, but at the same time maybe that’s why werewolves don’t traditionally get so old.
Rick Baker: I see you have a WOLFMAN cane.
Father Geek: Yeah.
[Dave Elsey walks in.]
Harry: Hey Quincy, it’s nice to meet you.
Rick Baker: It’s a heavy one, too man.
Harry: Benicio [Del Toro] was swinging it around.
Rick Baker: Oh he was? How was that, meeting with Benicio?
Harry: Really really good. He loves getting to be in the makeup and is hoping that when they do some pickup stuff where he can get in the makeup and do more stuff, because he’s convinced that he can do more in the makeup than computer guys can do.
Rick Baker We had a really great day Saturday and I was just so excited. The place was on fire and he can open his mouth really wide and he was doing some really cool stuff and I was like “Yeah! Now we are seeing a wolfman!” It’s a wolfman movie, but there have been a number of those nights where it’s like you go out to the gypsy camp and there’s fog going and there are all of these cool gypsy wagons and there were these Romanians or whatever they were speaking Romanian and people riding up on horseback with torches and stuff, it’s like “The WOLFMAN movie!” You know?
Harry: Yeah. Did you do any makeup for Geraldine Chaplin for her Maleva?
Rick Baker: I didn’t. I think we might have done a little bit to enhance her, but she looks good. Did they show you, yet?
Harry: I haven’t seen any of it yet. Maria Ouspenkaya is one of my favorite character actresses in the history of character actresses and she is so good in WOLFMAN that I forget that she is in stuff like KING’S ROW and DODSWORTH, because she’s “that” character.
Rick Baker: And she always will be. I think Geraldine Chaplin did a great job, but still it’s like…
Dave Elsey: I liked her in THE ORPHANAGE.
Harry: She was great in that.
Dave Elsey: Did you notice that she said “Wolf’s Spain?”
Rick Baker: No, I didn’t notice that.
Dave Elsey: Yeah, she kept saying that. It’s “Wolf’s bane, right?”
Harry: Yeah, the wolf’s bane.
Rick Baker: Maybe that’s her accent for a gypsy.
Dave Elsey: Yeah, that’s what it is.
Rick Baker: But she’s got a cool looking ring with it… The gypsies are great and they are like real gypsies, so it’s really cool to have them.
Harry: Yeah, you are like checking to see if you have everything in your pockets…
Rick Baker: I went to craft service and it was gone. They had said “The gypsies were here!”
Harry: Next thing you know, the actors’ trailers are being hauled off! So what’s all the transformation stuff for?
Rick Baker: This was for the transformations that we didn’t really know what we were going to be at and we were just playing around with stuff. The problem, from the beginning, when I first started this, I said “What I think is going to be really hard is to do a transformation here, because it’s not AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF, we don’t have a naked man before they get help from hell… with Benicio, we don’t have a lot of places we can stretch out or do, so I don’t know how we do a big showcase transformation with that.” I still am trying to sort that out some, but where I think he was was rather than going from A to B, we rather go from A to Z to G and playing it like he doesn’t just smoothly transform into the Wolfman, he goes through some crazy shit before he gets there. These were sketches for different things.
We went with his hands that kind of bend and tweak in an unnatural way with weird stuff happening to him, you know. We are still trying to sort that out.
[Rick shows me this amazing hand thing that splits and pops – just like you see in the trailer. Now the make-up prosthetic that Rick showed me was actually exactly like what was in the trailer. And one of the things they were talking about doing was marrying Rick’s various things and using them like key frames for the animation in places. I’m not sure exactly what we’re seeing in the trailer, as… it looks just like what his wizards came up with!]
Harry: Ouch. That looks painful!
[Next was a full body Wolfman all animatronic’d out… Excellent looking!]
Rick Baker: This is what the sequence looks like now. It’s a fully animatronic thing and we had like three weeks to build it and a lot of stuff has come up at the last minute and they want these things to burn at the end.
Harry: So how excited are you to see a creation burn or is it like tragedy?
Rick Baker: Well, it’ kind of burned yesterday in the shot or it wasn’t in the shot, so I wasn’t all that happy about that and they cut some cables so that the controllers didn’t show up in the shot, but it doesn’t quite do what it’s made to do. I’m actually… When you make something to burn, you kind of want to see it burn, you know? It’s like it’d be cool to see…
Harry: For my sister’s baby shower, I had a friend create a full-sized piñata of, I refer to her on the site as “Sister Satan,” so we made a pregnant satanic version of my sister and it was supposed to be a piñata and so we filled it with… The boobs were filled with Milk Duds and the stomach was full of those carnival little babies and Red Hots and stuff… It was all about the moment where you see an incredibly pregnant woman beating a satanic pregnant thing to see it burst open and we were going to videotape the whole thing. She fell in love with the sculpture and preformed the C-section on it.
Harry: That worked well, but it’s always fun to do that sort of stuff.
Father Geek: So is this silicone or wax?
Rick Baker: It’s silicone and that’s part of the problem we had too, since the short time frame, because it burns and we had to make it out of stuff that would burn safely and these guys made this sub structure out of this fireproof fiberglass and got it all built and the health and safety guy said we can’t do that, so we had to take all of those parts out and hammer them out of metal, like they were making armor and we had three weeks, but manages to get it all done. It’s like silicone and it’s heavy as hell, which was that much more of a strain on the mechanism.
Father Geek: So all of those cables, this is animatronic?
Rick Baker: Yeah. Is there anything we can move?
Dave Elsey: Because it’s pushed in the corner like that, the cables are a little bit tangled at the moment, but it does thrash around.
Harry: I’m sure I’ll see it on set tonight. To see a werewolf burning today, I don’t think I’ll leave the studio anytime soon.
[The scene got pushed to the next day… sniffle… I never saw it burn!]
Rick Baker: It’s not something that happens everyday, is it?
Harry: No… I love cadavers.
Rick Baker: These are some burn marks.
Harry: Either that or the worst hicky ever. What has been your biggest challenge on doing this? You have done wolves before, but have you ever done a wolfman? Well… Jack Nicholson.
Rick Baker: Yeah, but that was kind of a different thing. I think the biggest challenge was really convincing everybody that I know how to make a wolfman. We went through a real hard time with Mark (Romanek) to be honest and the Wolfman or the picture that were put online was basically my first design and I got about 2,000 other ones and they all went away. We came back to that and I said “This is what we are going to do.” I think it’s right for this. I was really glad to hear that they wanted to make it a guy in makeup and not a CG thing and they are going back a bit more towards that.
Harry: It would just feel weird. CG werewolves… AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS versus what you did, it’s like an illustration in everything that could go wrong. I guess that’s the more white version of the ancient Wolfman there?
Rick Baker: Yeah and there was actually a whiter one than that. That’s the stunt double in that makeup.
Harry: I like that. Yeah the maquette… Benicio said yesterday that when he saw the maquette that that’s the first time the 14 year old in him started screaming at him “Oh my God, you are a wolfman and you get to be that toy!”
Rick Baker: It was funny, because he comes in everyday when we make him up with a different set of monster magazines that he bought off the internet at probably a great expense and I know them all by heart and that’s where we kind of bonded, like he would bring this thing in and be like “Oh yeah on page 42, there’s a really cool shot of Frankenstein!”
Harry: It’s like yesterday we were talking and I was saying “My favorite monster cover with the classic werewolf from WEREWOLF OF LONDON on that French horror magazine, there was just something wonderful about that foreign magazine cover and he goes “Oh, I love FILM 54” or whatever that was called. Then he started talking about “Fear Book 66” and it was hard to sort of reign the interview into talking about the movie, because we just started talking the geek stuff, which is just fun. When he was shooting SIN CITY in Austin, my friends that run the comic shop, AUSTIN BOOKS in Austin said that Benicio came in and he was searching for “Famous Monsters of Filmland” and they didn't have much, so I told them about the time Dad found a load of “10,000 Famous Monsters” back in 1974 and so… I had 10,000 copies of “Famous Monsters” in my bedroom as I was growing up as a kid.
Father Geek: One whole wall, all the way to the ceiling…
Harry: They were issues like 26 through 62 or something like that, so that’s how I learned how to read from “Famous Monsters…”
Father Geek: Any that were damaged, so he had tons of them, so for years all of his friends at Christmas and their birthdays, he would give them stacks of “Famous Monsters” and of course now I think about it and the last time we did that, we gave Robert Rodriguez a stack of about 30 and Guillermo Del Toro about 50 of them.
Rick Baker: I like your shirt. It’s cool.
Father Geek: I thought it was appropriate for this visit.
Rick Baker: It’s funny. We were talking about it and he started on “Famous Monsters” when it was like issue one hundred and something and they were reprints. The first one I saw was number 3, you know?
Harry: The first for him was 2. A buddy of his had 1, but he ordered…
Father Geek: I was in the junior high band and I go into the band hall and this kid that played saxophone was opening his case and “Famous Monsters 1” was in it and I pulled it out and looked at it. I was like 13 and going “Wow, where did you get this?” All over town they were all sold out in San Antonio, so I went off and got the address and mailed off, I had to have it, and so number 2 came. That’s what started it all and I guess I started this.
Rick Baker: It your fault! Or it’s actually Forry’s fault!
Harry: It’s Forry’s fault. I blame him
Rick Baker: 3 was the first one I saw and my mom was a babysitter and stuff and tried to take me to the market with her and I always hated it, but I went to go look at the magazines and was like “What’s this?” I was looking all through it and “Boy and His Monster.”
Harry: Didn’t you submit something to one of the “Famous Monsters” earlier or something like that or have a letter in there?
Rick Baker: No, I never quite learned how to write.
Harry: I can’t remember…
Rick Baker: But my mom wouldn’t let me buy it and it think that it was really that she didn’t have the spare 35 cents, but anytime she went to the market after that, I happened to go with her. Every once in a while… The next one that blew my mind was issue number six and I saved my money to buy it and then I bought 3 as a page issue at the same time.
Father Geek: A few years ago I had unwrapped a package from Harry and it’s an original “Famous Monsters” mailing envelope with number 2 and a letter from Forrest Ackerman…
Harry: His mother had thrown all of his “Famous Monsters” away and I wrote Forrest to write me a letter saying “Here’s issue #2. Don’t let your mother throw this one away!” I had found the envelope and the other separate and put them together and actually on Christmas it was sitting at the mailbox and I said “Hey Dad, you should see it Santa left you mail or something” and he’s like “There’s no mail on Christmas!” He comes out and is like “Wow.” I actually sealed the envelope back and it had never been sealed before, but for me it was about the gag, you have to commit to the gag.
Rick Baker: I had this guy from the studio show me his loft space and I climb up this ladder and I’m up there, this guy comes up the ladder and as we see him come above the horizon, I could see it was issue number 4 in his hands of “Famous Monsters,” which is the one I didn’t have. It’s hard to find and he goes “Hey, I went to a garage sale and they had some magazines with some monsters in it and I thought you might be interested in this, because I know you have all of these monsters…” I was like “Its issue number 4!” It was pristine and he bought it for like a nickel or something.
Harry: Ever since Ackerman started selling off Ackermansion stuff, Dad has been basically getting all of the files that he had where he kept files on every movie and every project. Our idea is at some point, when I have a little bit more staff, to have some interns scan every file and actually create The Ackerman Archives as a sup part of Ain’t It Cool at some point.
Father Geek: It’s all of these exceptional and interesting…
Harry: There are thousands and thousands of things.
Father Geek: It’s all filled with such incredible stuff with journals from French magazines and clippings and I couldn’t believe it when those came up and nobody was really buying them, so I was able to get quite a few.
Harry: What’s your favorite gag that you guys have been able to do on this film so far?
Rick Baker: I don’t think there’s an actual favorite, but just actually getting people into the makeup and making some scary faces and stuff.
Harry: Seeing the stuntman in the thing, he attacked me at one point. He had a really great snarl.
Rick Baker: Spencer is really good.
Dave Elsey: You should see him without makeup.
Rick Baker: Yeah, he looks like Karloff.
Dave Elsey: Exactly like Karloff.
Rick Baker: One of the first times here, the stunt guys had him walk around with these big steak things that were ridiculous, but it’s like “It’s Karloff! I want to use this guy. We could use him as a double for Benny,” because they wanted him to be big anyways and he’s worked out great. He was like “I guess I’m not going to do it, since we are almost at the end?” I was like “You have to do your Frankenstein on them.” I thought it would be really cool to do a little FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN…
Harry: That’s what Benny yesterday was telling me, because I asked him “Do you see this as the start of a franchise? Would you want to do more of these?” He’s like “Absolutely.” He says “I would like to do more of these, especially if they allow me to do more character work as the wolfman” and I said “I think Lon Chaney did six performances as the wolfman, so what would you want the second film to be?” He says, “FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE WOLFMAN. I want to do that!” I like him… His heart is in exactly the right place.
Rick Baker: That’s right, because his brother was here Saturday when we were making him up, because with Benny and talking about the monster magazine, you don’t necessarily have the same taste in stuff and I’ll give him a hard time and he was talking about Frankenstein and he’s talking about the Glen Strange Frankenstein being the best and I’m like “I’m leaving… You don’t know what you are talking about.” He’s like “You sound just like my brother. You remind me of my brother a lot.” He showed up the other day and it was fun. He’s like an answer dodger, a quite soft spoken kind of guy and it was interesting to see him, because you could tell…
Harry: Karloff just had the most perfect bone structure for makeup ever, you know? Everything worked on him.
Rick Baker: I love his face and he pulled off the monster makeup better than anybody else.
Harry: Glenn’s face was too wide and it changed the shape of the head so much.
Father Geek: It was more square than any of the others.
Harry: I like the more rectangular and cadaverous look for Frankenstein. It looked like he had been in the ground a little bit.
Rick Baker: The best was in the first films when he was a starving actor, because as he got bigger, it didn’t quite work as well when his face got fuller.
Harry: If you were to get… Like if at some point Universal does a Frankenstein, would you want to go… You wouldn’t want to go green with Frankenstein…
Rick Baker: I always had a problem with making him green.
Harry: Did you do at home versions where you tried to make him color?
Rick Baker: I have done stuff. I did some computer animation stuff and played around with that greenish, just because that’s what people seem to… It would be a tougher one, probably it means so much to me like Karloff and the look of that and you know, people are saying “If you did it now, you would have to change it a whole bunch” and I’m like “That’s a little too perfect makeup.”
Harry: I always wanted to see someone put Jeremy Irons in that makeup.
Rick Baker: That’s the same thing I said. That would be so cool if you hired Jeremy Irons.
Harry: He would be fantastic.
Rick Baker: He would. He’s got a real Karloff look, you know?
Harry: And he’s a classical actor, yeah.
Rick Baker: That would be the perfect choice for him. Somebody at one point was thinking about doing a movie about Karloff and mentioning Jeremy Irons and I said “I’d do that for sure. I’d do that for free!” [Laughs]
Harry: That’s like getting to do Lugosi for ED WOOD, where you have to do it! Are you involved at all in what Breck Eisner has been doing with designs for the Creature?
Rick Baker: No. I did designs for the Creature a couple of times way back when.
Harry: It’s the most perfect creature suit ever. It works in the water. It’s amazing.
Rick Baker: That’s what scared me, I wasn’t relishing the idea of putting a rubber suit in the water, you know? The stuff I was hearing about what’s going on with this movie… “It’s got stegosaurus plates on it’s back and a tail with spikes…” They are turning it into a hodgepodge of dinosaurs and crap and it’s like “That’s not the gill man…”
Father Geek: What made him effective was that he was humanesque.
Harry: I have never liked any modernization of the Creature, like when Stan’s crew did MONSTER CLUB, their gill man in it… “It’s totally wrong!” It’s nice and I like it, but I love the real creature.
Rick Baker: When we were doing the designs, I had a bunch of guys working on it and we were trying all kinds of different things, but mine was a slight reworking on the old creature and in the end everyone is like “Yeah, that’s what it should be.”
Harry: It’s like for me if somebody were to do THIS ISLAND EARTH, the fun you can have with the metaluna mutant is below the waist, because below the waste was horrible! Everything else… just make it more articulate with more movement, but that design was perfect.
Dave Elsey: What did you think of the ADI ones that were done for that Warner Brothers thing?
Harry: I saw the movie once and not much locked into my brain. I’m such a classic movie freak, so to me I wound up hating MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER just because they decided to lampoon THIS ISLAND EARTH and I don’t think THIS ISLAND EARTH deserves to be lampooned. I am still waiting for Apple to come up with the upside down triangle screens. That’s what I want. If it shoots laser beams at somebody, I’ll sit down man… Back in the original days of computers, I sat down four days to program CENTIPEDE into my computer and did line by line at the age of 11. With makeup stuff, dad used to send me… What I wanted to be when I grew up was be you with this stuff. I read all of the stuff on Jack Pierce about crepe paper and latex over it and hairspray and stipple work…
Father Geek: …with his “Famous Monster Makeup” mags… You were little!
Rick Baker: The Dick Smith stuff?
Harry: Yeah and I had the Savini books, but I was never into the gore. I turned myself into a 49er miner or I did the old age stuff and all of that and actually went shopping at a grocery store and had people trying to help me, because they thought I was old and fragile. Do you ever do makeup on yourself?
Rick Baker: All of the time. That’s the first thing I did on this thing when I was trying to convince Mark of what the wolfman should be after hundreds of photoshops, I did a makeup on myself, because we didn’t have Benicio available to us, because he was doing CHE and I was saying, “Can we get a Benicio double so I can actually do the makeup, so you can see it in person? I think that will really help you see it and visualize it.” They were dragging their feet and basically ended up calling central casting with a Hispanic last night and they sent them over to me and they were like “He looks a little like Benicio” and I thought “I might as well put it on myself, because these guys are not going to make scary faces and stuff,” so I made the pieces for myself and locked myself in my room gluing the plastic on myself and doing the hair on myself, which isn’t easy to do with all of the angles you have got to get at, turned the video camera on and I shot some stuff that looked pretty cool. That was pretty much the makeup that Benicio wears now. I thought, “When he sees this… he’ll be like ‘You are right Rick.” I know you were chummy with Mark.
Harry: I remember when you contacted me on GRINCH all those years ago. Basically if you ever call me up on anything, I jump through whatever hoop there is to help convince whoever your working with of anything, because I believe in this stuff. Look at what we did with Stan, where I basically allowed that dedication to basically take over the site for a week, because to me what you guys do is the basis of what almost every filmmaker I know… They geeked out on all the same stuff, “Famous Monsters of Film Land,” Jack Pierce, and all of that stuff. As soon as that petition to get Jack Pierce a star came around, I was like “Yes! I’ll put up a story and get 14,000 people to go sign up that petition,” which while I might love Italian Neorealism and musicals and everything else, I started from that same magazine that we all…
Rick Baker: It’s funny how many people did.
Harry: And it had that earnest honesty to it, too.
Rick Baker: It’s really helped with Benicio, he and I both have really clicked talking that stuff and then we talked about those old 8 mm Castle movies and stuff…
Harry: The thing that I told Benicio yesterday was “You have got to hire Basil Gogos to do a portrait of you in this makeup.” He says, “I’m trying to talk the studio into…” I’m like “No, just do it!” Guillermo did that for HELLBOY. He had Basil do a HELLBOY portrait, just so he could have it hanging in his house.
Rick Baker: What color did he make it?
Harry: It was red, but with really stark golds down one side of the face. It didn’t really look that much like Ron, it was more… Basil doesn’t really stick to the honesty of the imagery, he starts doing his own thing.
Rick Baker: My wife actually dealt with that for our anniversary. When she and I first started going out, it was around Halloween and we went to a Halloween party and I made myself up to be this punk Frankenstein monster with safety pins and had a scar across my head and she was like a punk Bride and it was our first big date kind of a thing and she had Basil do paintings out of that. It was the coolest thing she has ever gotten me. It’s like he did it like a famous monster cover and was going to put the logo up top and I was like “Yeah!” I saw that SCIFI BOYS DVD and they were saying that he was going to do a painting and I was going to be in it and John Landis and Dennis Muren and all of those guys and it’s like “Ahh…”
Harry: He does the monster portrait stuff just perfect. We have two painted covers from “Famous Monsters” at our house of MADHOUSE and PHIBES and that makes me feel good, you know. I bought one of the original Lon Chaney makeup boxes that a guy who did a biography on Jack Pierce had bought from one of Lon Chaney Sr.’s maids. The box that according to the story she gave him, the box that Chaney was taking his makeup on when he was going to try out and become like five different extras a day, that period makeup box and that after he had gotten a little bit of money he made one that had Creighton on the side of it and you opened up the lid and it’s got a mirror on the inside of the thing, of course all of the makeup is gone, but you can still smell it, which is awesome and the mirrors got the grazing, because it’s an old mercury mirror and he never could find a photo of Chaney with that makeup, because he wasn’t anybody at that stage, but what I found was a photo of Creighton that was used for the model for the set in one of the Chaney books that I had found and was like “That’s really close” and the Smithsonian had done a test on the glue and stuff with the box and sure enough it ages exactly the right period. I stole that thing on ebay. I was so happy. I was scared to death that you or Nicotero or any of you makeup people would see the box and I would not be able to afford it, because minimum was a thousand on it and I saved up enough to bid as much as three grand for the box and I got it for the minimum. Nobody bid.
Rick Baker: Wow.
Harry: If you ever find yourself in Austin, I’ll show it to you, because when you open it, the mirror hits you. It feels right and smells…
Rick Baker: I have Jack Pierce’s kit.
Harry: Ah, we have Bud Westmore’s.
Rick Baker: Oh yeah? It probably has not even been used.
Harry: It has a couple of canisters in it that are hand written on it that’s just “Mexican” and there’s one that says “Frank Green” on it…
Father Geek: It was from the late forties.
Harry: The box was sold in one of Bud’s ex-wives estate sales.
Father Geek: Wasn’t his wife like Priscilla Lane or Rosemary Lane?
Harry: Yeah, but that was fun.
Rick Baker: With this Jack Pierce one, when I found out that it existed, I talked to the guy who had it and he actually got it out of the trash, Jack’s wife was throwing all of his stuff out after he died. He actually called and was like “It was on the curb, so he went and got it.” My buddy kind of went and rescued it and I was courting this guy for the longest time, like “If you ever want to get rid of this…” He ended up giving it to this different makeup artist, like “Man that sucks.” That guy ended up giving it to me actually during THE GRINCH. It was on stage 16 where we were doing all of the makeup.
Harry: That’s still my favorite set visit that I have ever done, because eating in the commissary where there were more WHO’s than there were real people, just that lunch where I’m in a room where human isn’t the thing… That was the most fun. I love this sort of stuff even more than THE GRINCH stuff, but that’s just because it’s “Wolfman!”
Rick Baker: One of the days I was doing Eddie Murphy in COMING TO AMERICA for Paramount and I went outside and a group of Klingons were walking by, then a group of cowboys and Indians and a guy in a space suit and it was like “This is exactly like how it is when you see it in a movie!”
Harry: You felt like Porky Pig in HE OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES. Walking into a painting thinking that’s the way to go… [Laughs]
Rick Baker: With this one, when I heard that they were doing this I was like “Yeah, Wolfman,” especially when I heard that they were thinking about going with makeup, so I was at universal shooting something for NORBIT, went over to the office and “Is there any word on WOLFMAN?” “Yeah, it’s in the works.” I said, “Put in a word for me!”
Harry: You do fat people makeup better than anyone I’ve ever seen, it’s astonishing, like I might not like NORBIT, but I’ll watch it as just a makeup geek thing where I can just go “Oh my God, look at how that thing moves… It’s beautiful.”
Rick Baker: I like the old Asian makeup more than anything.
Harry: Yeah, the old Asian makeup is really nice. That just gets into my Mr. Wu geek. The joke with all of my friends, as I’ve just had the lapband surgery down, I’m down 70 pounds in the last two months or so and everybody is like, “Harry is going to go away” and it’s like “No no no, at some point I’m goind to hook up with Rick Baker and have him make a body cast of me and every now and then I’ll do public appearances, I’ll put on the fat Harry suit and not let people know I got skinny.” “No, the surgery was a failure!”
Rick Baker: When they said that this was going to be done in the UK and that the work had to be done in the UK, I was like “Man, I really don’t want to move to England for a year” and I said I would do it if I could fly back and forth and so that’s how that’s gone off. They have an English crew and stuff with David Elsey, who did FARSCAPE. I contacted him and asked if he would be interested in doing THE WOLFMAN and was like “Yeah!” So thanks to David, I’ve been able to fly back and forth so I can still be able to see my family and not miss my kids growing up being here all of that time. I’m telling you, I’m getting a little tired of that flight.
Harry: There was a period where I was doing so much travel to cover stuff, I logged like 200,000 air miles one year and I realized that my nephew had grown like four inches since I had really paid attention and I was just like “I need to hire more people and designate that travel,” like I would never have turned down this, because I was here for the remake of THE MUMMY, but I was always upset that THE MUMMY wasn’t more makeup and more MUMMY… Make it a mummy… As much as I like THE MUMMY makeup, I always prefer the Ardeth Bay… I love that thing.
Rick Baker: It’s not really one of my favorite movies, though. I actually just watched the commentary on the DVD and I love the makeup, but it’s the movie I’m not that crazy about. I said to them, “We have to talk about the makeup more than anything else…”
Harry: Universl just sent me the new MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES DVD, but there’s not a single extra on the thing. It really bummed me out, because it just feels like that’s a movie that I love as a kid, which I also know as a studio melodrama and not the story of Lon Chaney. There’s all sorts of stuff that when I watch the movie, it’s like “Twitch twitch,” but to me, that’s a movie that desperately needs a really good commentary to really tell the truth about Lon Chaney and underline why James Cagney is such a horrible choice for doing monster makeup.
Rick Baker: There’s this one movie, called TRAILORS IN HELL and it’s like “You know, this movie sucks…” Chaney, with the crude techniques he had did so much better makeup. Now it’s like the modern age of makeup and they manage to show how awful it could be.
Harry: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, to me… THE HUNCHBACK is kind of interesting, but that other stuff… just… especially the way they built the drama with THE HUNCHBACK scene, where he has to be ugly to the ex-wife. That scene works for me totally, but that Phantom… First of all, I have never seen a recreation of THE PHANTOM that worked. I don’t think you can get too many actors that want to stretch out their nostrils and…
Rick Baker: Gary Oldman maybe.
Harry: Yeah, but that makeup is just amazing... I just love being in this room. I was looking at the leg extensions that you made and those are just fun.
Dave Elsey: It’s a pity they all locked away.
Harry: He (Stunt Wolfman) brought them out to show me.
Rick Baker: He’s great at it, too. He can do all kinds of stuff.
Dave Elsey: Before all of this, he a was a kick boxer, so he’s super fit and the first time we built it, you weren’t really sure if he’d be able to actually stay up on them all and he was doing kickboxing moves and jumping off of stuff and leaping over fences and stuff straight away and it was amazing. Thank God we got him.
Harry: I’m just glad we are getting to an age where people understand that you don’t have to just have the main actor in the makeup on all the time, that you can actually use people that have other expertise with like physical things, because I love that.
Rick Baker: I’m just glad that it’s not all CG. I was a little concerned about the transformation, because that’s been kind of taken out of our hands and Benicio was talking about it where they will make the mouth open like this in a completely unnatural way.
Harry: They showed me a test they did on Benicio as the wolfman where he did a turn and open the mouth thing and they moved it just a little, like not too… If they do something where it doesn’t work and takes you completely out of the moment… I think they actually…
Rick Baker: Showed some restraint?
Harry: Yeah, where it almost felt like I wouldn’t necessarily notice if I didn’t know this type of stuff, but it did push it… I saw the before and after and it pushed it maybe another half inch, which could be conceivable. I think to a large degree when… It’s weird and the thing that I worry about more than anything is when people or a when a studio hires Rick Baker to do something and then they feel like they have Carte Blanche, like they can do all of this other stuff and the fans will be okay like “Oh, it’s Rick!” When they see the CG, then it hurts both reputations.
Rick Baker: What’s frustrating about this is they hired me to do my job and some of the producers are pushing for other things…
Harry: That’s what Benicio said. I had the recording thing on and at one point he says, “Okay, we are talking, but this is stuff that can’t come out for 30 years.” I said, “Okay,” but “keep it on, because in 30 years you can write it.”
Rick Baker: It’s been really hard. When they called and we were two weeks away from shooting, nobody had anything done because he hadn’t made a decision…
Harry: That’s tough.
Rick Baker: It was hard.
Harry: I think he got overwhelmed, because I was chatting with him almost every night, just because we keep the same hours online. He has me give him movie recommendations constantly, because he wants to know more of the niche film stuff and so we do a lot of that talk most of the time, but every now and again we would start talking WOLFMAN stuff and I could just get a sense that it was too big of a leap from what he had done.
Rick Baker: Its funny how a lot of these younger people don’t know a lot of this classic stuff, like “How can you make movies and not know these things?” “What’s CITIZEN KANE?”
Harry: It’s bizarre, like my guy Quint on the site is doing “A movie a day” where he’s watching a movie a day that he’s never seen before and he’s concentrating on vintage and some of the classic stuff… This guy is a friend of mine, but I had no idea… He’s a rabid movie geek. How do you get to age 26 and never seen COOL HAND LUKE or THE SOUND OF MUSIC? How do you avoid THE SOUND OF MUSIC? I see it twice a year simply because I’m flipping channels and it’s the only thing on and I’m watching it again, but I don’t understand how you avoid the movie. It’s just there.
Rick Baker: We had a guy working on this who didn’t know who Vincent Price was.
Rick Baker How could you never of heard about him?
Harry: Vincent Price is the most bitter story of my life. He was doing a play in Wichita Falls, Texas and it was when my parents were divorced and I was living in Wichita Falls at this little ranch in the middle of nowhere and I had called him up and he decided that he would sit with me. I said I had like 35 of his movie posters and I wanted to go through them and talk to him about the movies and he was like “Absolutely.” He set the date. It was going to be midnight after his performance on Halloween, so I was going to get two hours with Vincent Price from midnight to two in the morning on Halloween night. My mom had a car wreck after getting drunk and just refused to let me go, because I had to take care of her. She passed out instantly and I had no way to get there and I called him up to let him know that I wasn’t coming, but he stayed on the phone with me for like and hour and a half telling me stories. It was fantastic, but I always said I wouldn’t be angry with my mom if I got to meet him before he died. MY mom died before he did, but I’m still angry, because it’s Vincent Price!
Father Geek: I came up for my weekend visitation and I come into the house and there’s this stack of one sheets about 18 inches thick and it was all this Vincent Price stuff and I was like “What are these for?” and he was like “I was supposed to meet with Vincent Price, he was going to sign all of these things and…”
Harry: I sold movie collectables and those kinds of things before Ain’t It Cool and we were doing a show up in Dallas and Ray Harryhausen came in the booth and he just loved the idea that we had vintage stuff, because you go to so many of these shows and vintage is 1978 maybe and that’s reaching back. It’s usually 80’s stuff.
Father Geek: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is “vintage.”
Harry: It’s a vintage poster, which just blows my mind and I imagine it blows your mind, too. He just started going through all of the vintage posters telling me stories like about he and George Powell were going to work on THE TIME MACHINE 2 and he comes to a GODZILLA poster, where Godzilla was in a roller coaster standee on MONSTER ISLAND. The poster has a roller coaster around where Godzilla is standing and he’s like “Such a rippoff from my BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS” and he just goes into “I hate Godzilla!” He goes into this beautiful thing, “It’s outrageous a creature that size, it couldn’t support itself… the bone structure” and it’s like “Wow.” He stayed in the booth for like an hour and a half just talking vintage stuff and for me, I feel Ray is the single coolest human being I have ever met in my life, because he just has a calm about himself.
Father Geek: He gave us his home address in London…
Harry: Yeah, off of that one time.
Father Geek: He just met us there…
Rick Baker: He’s great and that’s like something we were talking about going to meet Ray and it’s like “The show’s almost done!”
Harry: God, I totally forgot that he lives in London, I could’ve done that yesterday… You just forget and then opportunities you get angry later. It’s like I never met Stan, it’s weird. I’ve met you once before, but we’ve talked I think twice before that and the KNB gang I just see constantly, just because they work with Robert and are in Austin constantly. I almost feel like Greg [Nicotero] lives in Austin.
Father Geek: We see Savini a lot.
Harry: Yeah, we see Savini a lot, but I just don’t go to LA much and I just never was on… I think it’s just absolutely unfathomable to think that I was never on a film that Winston’s group was working on. It’s really bizarre. As I start looking back it’s like “Did I turn stuff down?” No… But he always tends to have projects where he’s working with filmmakers that tend to be incredibly secretive and they don’t want… They don’t trust that I’m not going to spoil the key moments of a film, at least not intentionally. First off, it is weird that they would choose this day for me to be here. I understand why they want me here, because this is a day where exciting stuff is happening, but as a writer it sucks, because what am I supposed to do? “What did you see at the shoot?” I could say “I saw Emily run with a gun.” “Wow, they have you on that?” I’ll probably have something with Hugo that I probably can talk about, but…
Rick Baker: It’s actually too bad that it wasn’t on a day that Benny was made up or the other one.
Harry: I was supposed to be.
Rick Baker: Schedules change all of the time you know.
Harry: I just hope that the end product works, you know.
Rick Baker: You and me both. I tell you, the dailies I’ve seen of the film look beautiful. Rick Heinrich’s stuff is incredible and it’s all just so exciting…
Harry: He makes color black and white movies. Everything that he has production designed with the exception of the PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN stuff, which felt vibrantly colorful, but like all of that Tim Burton stuff, but of course Tim wants to be black and white. He wants to be in that world.
Rick Baker: Rick actually called me early on when he started doing designs as the production designer… Sometimes we will get into some funk about some stupid thing that they do to us, but it’s like there’s a set right next to us that’s this crypt set and it’s like “Yeah, this is really cool!” You walk into these sets and then you see dailies with all of the fog and stuff… it looks great.
Harry: When I walked on and I saw smoke, I was like “Okay,” because Victorian England didn’t have a clear day ever. There were no clear days in Victorian England. The sun never showed on Victorian England. It was wet and foggy the whole time!
Father Geek: We walked onto the set awhile ago and that the first thing I said, “Ah, finally fog in London.” I’ve been here twelve times with no fog at all.
Rick Baker: Did they show you footage?
Harry: The only footage that I’ve seen was stuff that the visual effects guys had been playing with, so I saw Benicio in the makeup do stuff where they were playing with eye stuff.
Rick Baker: You have seen stuff I haven’t gotten to see. [Turns to Universal Publicist] Are you going to show him any footage of the movie?
Universal Publicist: That wasn’t the plan, but I’ve got plenty of stills to show you, including the shots of Bennie that we talked about yesterday in the makeup.
Harry: What have you (Rick) got lined up to do next? What’s next on your schedule?
Rick Baker: I’ve got nothing. I plan on taking some time to recuperate. Anthony was talking and he wants to play Hitchcock in a movie and was asking me about that.
Harry: Play Hitchcock?
Rick Baker: He wanted me to do the makeup and it sounds interesting.
Father Geek: So is he going for the fat makeup or something?
Rick Baker: It’s like again, he doesn’t have the… like the Cagney with Chaney, you know with the right face…
Dave Elsey: He’s got the voice, though.
Rick Baker: He’s got the voice down.
Harry: Hitchcock was nice enough to do a couple of life castes of himself, so you can start building makeup off that. I collect fat life masks.
Rick Baker: Just fat?
Harry: I’ve got Laughton, Hitchcock, Brando, Tor Johnson, and those are hanging above my door. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I become thin. Will I suddenly not want them anymore? I also have John Rhys Davies, because Richard Taylor gave me his head from LORD OF THE RINGS. I can’t hang it on the wall, so I don’t know what to do with it.
Father Geek: It’s really heavy! We’ve got the Schlock that you did and gave to Forrest. I got that drawing and I got the head that you did and we’ve got that hanging in our Acker room.
Harry: We’ve got this room at the house that’s called “The Acker Room” and it’s everything we’ve gotten from Acker.
Father Geek: Even my grandson asks “Grandpa can I go into the Acker room?” “Don’t touch anything, but sure.” We’ve got the werewolf feet from THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS or whatever it was. I forget what it was, but I think Forrest had down in…
Rick Baker: Yeah, just in the crawl space under his house, yeah.
Father Geek: We’ve got a bunch of that stuff from the crawlspace under his house…
Harry: It’s actually the funnest part of the Acker Mansion, because you just got in there. It was a horrible place to store makeup, because they were dying and it’s like “That’s not…” but it was so cool to see them rot and die and they turned into something new.
Rick Baker: I took Maurine to there like a month ago and a friend was like “What’s it like?” I go, “Well, there will be a shelf that says “CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON “ which has green dust on it.” He thought I was kidding.
Harry: I have Ackerman’s smoke grenade from KING KONG. It’s just like the lightest wood in the world, but you hold it and you realize “This knocked out King Kong.” That’s what’s amazing.
Father Geek: Years before, we were at the Acker Mansion and I took a picture of Harry holding it like he was getting ready to throw it and then years later he’s got it.
Rick Baker: It’s funny, when I went down to New Zealand to do my cameo in Kong I’m there looking at all of his stuff and there he is pulling out these original paintings from KING KONG and a contract that Willis O’Brian signed and then brought out that little leaded Kong. He was like, we’ve got to get a picture, with Andy, Henry, and that and it was like three King Kongs all together.
Harry: And it was like rabbit fur. It was so soft, wasn’t it? I love that. I think my favorite thing that he had was actually his BAD TASTE aliens and he was like “I don’t know if the hydraulics still work” and he got there and he started doing it and then he started doing the voice and it was just like “That’s so cool.” They were funky effects, but they were fun. If you can do effects that are funky and not real, as long as you can make it fun, it will work.
Rick Baker: Considering when that movie was made.
Harry: And that he made it literally out of his mother’s oven is really great stuff. I think some of my favorite stuff that you were ever connected with was THE AMAZING MELTING MAN.
Dave Elsey: We were talking about that the other day. I like that too.
Harry: It’s so wrong. We were set up at a show and my dad taps me on the shoulder and he’s like “Harry, you’ve got to deal with this guy, I can’t do it.” I turn around and there’s this guy and he was a burn victim and he had gotten hit with a fire house and his skin was actually stopped in drips on his face and I have the capacity to talk to someone who is horribly disfigured, simply because I love monster movies so much that I’m not just studying their faces as I’m talking, but I can look at them. Dad on the other hand knows that emotions are being read and he just can’t do that. I say, “Can I help you?” He says “I’m looking for a movie poster” and I’m like “Okay, what poster?” “AMAZING MELTING MAN” I said, “Really?” “Yes” I said, “You are the coolest person I know and here it is.” That was just the coolest poster, so somewhere in the world there’s a man who’s face is melted with an AMAZING MELTING MAN poster.
There was a guy at a Houston show where I felt dad psychically hitting me in the back of the head and I turn around and I was looking at a DAWN PATROL poster that I was wanting to get and he points and there’s this really tall guy at the end of the room going through our posters and I’m like “You do it, I’m looking at something.” “Okay…” I go over and it’s like “Dad… making me go to work…” [Laughs] As I get closer to him, he’s just wrong, like the backs of his pants I could see stuff pushing through the wrong way and his shoulder blades were extended and as I got closer his head seemed shaped wrong. His head shape was kind of like Pumpkinhead, Stan’s character, and he had an eye here and an eye here and he had no bottom jawbone and he had a really deep voice and he said he worked for NASA. He looked like an alien and it was the Elephant man’s disease, but more so than what I had seen from John before and he collected science fiction posters and we had this fantastic talk and to me it was like “I sold science fiction posters to an alien.” But he was such a sweet man, just incredible.
Father Geek: And he was tall!
Harry: He was close to seven foot and he was huge.
Father Geek: He was wearing a suit, like a custom made Italian suit, but made for his strange body and it was so weird. He was looking for an expensive poster we didn’t have.
Harry: He wanted THIS ISLAND EARTH.
Father Geek: That’s right.
Harry: Because the Metaluna was his favorite character…
Rick Baker: Except for the pants!
Harry: We talked about the pants and you know, I sort of like monsters that wore clothes, you know? What did the Metaluna mutant want? He wanted the girl. Do we really want to see what mutant desire was? Maybe Exeter put pants on him, because it was weird you know? You ever think about that sometimes? You should put pants on the monster!
Father Geek: I always liked that one poster where the creature is wearing that belt and pants.
Harry: Yeah, what is it? CREATURE WALKS AMONG US.
Rick Baker: I like that makeup. We were just talking about that with Bennie, weren’t we?
Harry: It’s a good makeup, I just don’t understand how the Creature, upon being burned, gained like 110 lbs of muscle.
Rick Baker: Tor Johnson…
Harry: A total physical shift, you know? I never could wrap my brain around it. That was the part that didn’t work for me, but I liked the makeup, it’s just different and not as awesome as the original. Other than this, what big stuff do you have on this movie to do?
Rick Baker: We are pretty done now, just wolfman runs around doing stuff, but I mean they have thrown a lot of stuff at poor Dave here who has been dealing with a lot of the blood and gut stuff and then at the last minute they decided they needed more and stuff.
Father Geek: Why are they still sculpting if you are almost done?
Rick Baker: Because we were hanging them… We were just trying to look busy today, but yeah I don’t know. We figure they might still scan these things.
Father Geek: Oh, for in-between the…
Rick Baker: Yeah, we’ve been taken out of the whole transformation stuff, like it’s “Not our problem…” We are giving them stuff to try to look at, but like Dave the other day… The wolfman pulls a guy’s lungs out and we got what a day and a half to do that? [Laughs]
Dave Elsey: There’s one actor we have already killed like four times and have to kill him at least one more time, because the first time we killed him, we didn’t kill him gory enough and he came back and we have filmed extra stuff to add into it.
Harry: It’s going to be weird to see a wolfman movie that is gory. The original was such a fairytale.
Dave Elsey: It’s weird isn’t it? We are making all of this stuff, but we don’t really know how much of it is going to make it into the movie, some really extreme stuff, like some of the most extreme stuff…. Much more extreme than this body there.
Harry: I saw something where there was fleshy meat hanging out.
Dave Elsey: Yeah, this is Benicio. This was just used recently, so it’s still hooked up to the blood, just so they could get a real close up of everything being stitched up and we were pumping blood through it and kind of moving the neck…
Father Geek: Was this being done with spurting spouting blood or seeping flowing blood?