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Mania Exclusive: Rick Baker Interview
Talking Star Wars, Wolfman, and Malefiicent
By Robert T. Trate
October 31, 2012
I was at an award ceremony a few weeks ago and a fellow colleague pointed out to me that Make Up Legend Rick Baker had ducked away from the press line. What my colleague failed to notice was that Rick Baker had reappeared and was actually standing behind the press line having a drink. Now, there are those moments that you have to take a chance. Did he want to talk to the press? Obviously, not. I knew that I would regret it the rest of my life if I didn’t at least take a chance and ask if he would take a few questions. Here is my impromptu interview with a legend in the field of Hollywood Make Up.
Robert: I am a huge fan of the director’s cut of The Wolfman. What I saw in the theater was a nightmare. Can you talk about what happened with the theatrical cut of the film?
Rick: It’s just movie making in this day and age, I think. Just so many people have opinions and it is not one person’ s vision. I think that is what happened; big budget movies, especially because there is so much at stake. So many executives and producers have ideas that are not a person’s vision. All films are that way, now.
Robert: I love Joe Johnston and The Rocketeer. It made me incredibly nervous for Captain America after I saw the theatrical cut. When I saw the director’s cut I went, “unh?” It hurt that the director’s cut wasn’t the theatrical cut.
Rick: For us, it was a difficult shoot because we had a different director to begin with. Poor Joe came in at the last minute and was stuck with the other person’s mess. That was part of the problem, too.
Robert: For Disney’s Malefiicent, how much of Angelia Jolie’s make up will be your work in relation to any CGI work? Will they start with your work and extrapolate out?
Rick: As far as her character goes, she is in the make up that we did. There are a lot of other things in the movie that will be CG.
Robert: When you look back at Star Wars...
Robert: What is your favorite Catina Alien? I know you didn’t do them all...
Rick: Yeah, the ones we did were quick and dirty. I like that one, which we didn’t make but articulated, the one that Han Solo shoots under the table, Greedo. I think he’s my favorite.
Robert: Are you excited for the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection on Blu-ray?
Rick: Yeah. I wish the Phantom of the Opera was on there, the original Phantom of the Opera. It is the Claude Rains one.
Robert: Yeah. I wish it was the Chaney one, too. I only ask because I love your commentary on The Mummy.
Rick: Really? I never listen to those.
Robert: It actually made me enjoy the film more and appreciate the process on a whole different level.
Rick: Well, Jack Pierce was one of my idols. Yeah, I am excited to see those and I hope they did a good job.
Robert: As a make up artist, do you look back at your work in high definition? Does it ruin your work or does it highlight the artistry of the process?
Rick: I always try and make the stuff look as good as I can make it in person. A typical thing that happens in a movie: you put the make up on early in the morning. They then film a twelve hour day and at the end of the day is when they want to film the closest shots. It happens to everybody who does what I do, all of the time. It is like it is in textbook somewhere. That is how your are supposed to do it. The make up, then, doesn’t look its best at the end of the day and after twelve hours. That (laughs) is a little scary, to get real close. For your’s I’ve been asking, can’t we shoot the close ups first when the make up looks the freshest? It’s like, (laughs) no.
Robert: As a fan, I wanted to tell you that I love your work in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. It’s a movie I watch several times a year. It must have been a great love letter for you to work on it and see it get all its praise...
Rick: I think it’s Tim’s best movie and the least Tim Burton-like movie he has done. I think it is such a good film. The script was so great. Martin [Landau] was terrific.
Robert: He really is great and I always have to remind myself that it is Landau under there.
Rick: It is rare that I try and pursue a movie. When I heard they were doing it, I said I have to do this.
Robert: It is a great film.
Rick: I am a huge Ed Wood fan.
Robert: How can you not be? Thank you, Mr. Baker. It was a pleasure talking to you.
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