Behind the Scenes of Gary Oldman’s Extreme Makeover for Darkest Hour

Movie make-up is more than perfecting that contour or finding the perfect shade of lipstick that will show up well on camera. Most people are at least aware of the work that goes into creating the glamourous—and sometimes not so glamourous looks that we see on the big screen, but some films such as the Oscar Nominated film, Darkest Hour, take things to the next level.

A behind-the-scenes video from Collider gives fans a look at the hard work and careful thought that went into turning Gary Oldman into British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Famed prosthetic make-up designer, Kazuhiro Tsuji, describes the difficulty of transforming an actor into a completely different person. People already have an image of this person burned into their mind, which can be difficult to match, he explained. Tsuji states that there is a lot of testing that happens in the beginning of the process. Tsuji’s team started by taking a life cast of Oldman and did a total of five different test make up looks in Los Angeles before finding the perfect fit.

Prosthetic supervisor David Malinowski explained how the prosthetics for Churchill’s face were made fresh daily. The process of creating one set of pieces taking about three hours. Malinowski explains the difficulty of making sure that the pieces looked the same every day and that for the production there must have been a total of 30-40 kilos of “Churchill faces” that built up over time. That’s a lot of makeup!

Prosthetic makeup and hair artist Lucy Sibbick explains the process of preparing Oldman for filming and applying the prosthetics, which includes hand painting.  Oldman says that he must have spent over 200 hundred hours in the make-up chair and been carrying half his body weight in prosthetics. Talk about an extreme makeover.

Darkest Hour is nominated for 6 Oscars including Tsuji, Malinowski and Sibbick for best make up. We’ll be continuing our Oscars coverage here, and be sure to tune in to the Oscars on March 4.

Featured Image: Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright’s DARKEST HOUR, a Focus Features release. 


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