Makeup artist Rick Baker, the man behind everything from “An American Werewolf in London” to “Coming to America” to “Maleficent,” has worked out of his current studio – a Hogwarts-like prosthetics laboratory that doubles as a museum to past work – for 20 years. He set it up because his last work space was too small. On movies like Tim Burton”s “Planet of the Apes” remake or Ron Howard”s live-action “Grinch,” Baker would command a team of nearly 100 people, toiling away over Whos from Whoville and articulate monkey masks. Today, he”s looking to downsize. CG is a tidal force. If a movie”s going to have 100 apes storming into battle, they”re going to be digital. Baker isn”t out of commission, but he”s aware the days of giant makeup jobs are behind him.
In a new video commissioned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Baker takes onlookers on a tour through his dazzling complex and laments the future of monster makeup design in the industry. While objective about CG, there”s a sadness in Baker”s voice when he considers what”s lost by not going practical. His warehouse is full of tangible creations, memories of movies that can be preserved in the right hands. The makeup artist hopes a few of his pieces will wind up in the Academy museum. Parting with any of it clearly won”t be easy. Life masks from “Bram Stoker”s Dracula” and the Worms from “Men in Black” are all part of his life”s work. In the video, he examines a frozen scientist he created for “Batman & Robin.” Through Baker”s eyes, there”s art to be found in that critically panned comic book bomb.
“When you make something and spend so much time creating something, you become attached to it,” Baker says in the short. “I think it”s important to keep and preserve these items. It seems like a shame for something someone would treasure to be rotting in a basement where someone can”t enjoy it.”
Watch the full video below. And for those nostalgic for the days of 8-hour creature feature makeup jobs, follow Rick Baker on Twitter. The best decision you”ll make today.