American Rick Baker is a legend in the world of special effects make-up. Since winning the first-ever Best Make-up Academy Award for An American Werewolf in London (1981), Baker has been at the forefront of innovation in the field. Penthouse spoke with the make-up master about creating 127 original aliens for Men In Black 3 and staying relevant in Hollywood.
Interview: Drew Turney
How do you keep raising the bar after such a long and lauded career?
What was your inspiration for the alien designs in the Men In Black movies?
In describing your work, do you think of yourself as more of a make-up artist, designer or sculptor?
So that’s when I starting getting into animatronics and puppetry. In the transformation scene in An American Werewolf in London, we did what we could with standard make-up and then we had two fake heads containing animatronics so they could transform on camera. That was the only way we could do it. I actually got a lot of flack from make-up artists because that stuff wasn’t make-up but, to me, it was a natural evolution.
Is staying aware of the technology a way of staying relevant?
“What’s hard when it comes to aliens is trying to come up with something nobody’s seen before”
What make-up work has really impressed you lately?
I worked with the digital guys on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. We made real-world silicone heads, which they scanned and made the computer models from. In the ´90s, CGI was kind of crappy. It was neat that they could do it, but I thought the stuff we were making still looked more real. But CGI’s come a long way.
You’re known for monsters and creatures, but are human make-up effects like those you did on Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor a whole different ball game?
Do you prefer monster effects because they’re a little more visible and you can get more recognition?