Robert Downy Jr. on his ‘well-wisher’ hair and makeup

The collaborative process to develop a character’s look can typically take months, going back and forth between the filmmaker, craftsmen and actor to refine details through countless emails and email attachments. Pictures. But with four distinct characters (plus a surprise fifth character in the finale) just for Robert Downey Jr. on HBO. The sympathizerprosthetic designer Vincent Van Dyke knew they didn’t have that much time, so he invited the key players to his Burbank studio for a live sculpting session.

“Walking into Vincent’s studio for the first time and seeing the characters’ heads cast in clay was a very surreal experience,” says Downey. “You don’t just put on a suit; you step into someone else’s shoes. Working with director Park [Chan-wook], shaping and adjusting clay, was a hands-on experience that you don’t get with CGI. It was like going back to an old-fashioned way of creating characters from the outside in.

Ultimately, Park, Downey and Van Dyke, along with lead makeup artist Chris Burgoyne, special effects makeup artist Michael Mekash and hair department head Katherine Kousakis, transformed the bone structure, hair, eye color and the actor’s complexion, and constructed five different ways to reveal so much about these characters simply through hair and makeup.

“A lot of that came from the collaborative testing phase where Robert gave grades,” Burgoyne says. “He said to me, ‘For The Author, I want to have a more olive tone, and as a congressman, I want to have an Orange County vibe, like I’m sitting on the beach when I I’m not there.’ office.’ When Mike and I get that kind of response, we go into automatic mode: “How am I going to achieve this?” And Kousakis adds, “He really spread my wings” – prompting him to get a perm. and dyeing a long, straight blonde wig until it became CIA agent Claude’s unique tight red curls.

Taking an actor far from their natural appearance is challenging enough, but when multiple makeovers must be applied to the same actor – sometimes on the same day – the work of design and application becomes both a creative and practical affair. “There are ways to make someone completely unrecognizable, but this makes the application much more complex and time-consuming. Knowing we couldn’t go there, we had to be somewhat subtle in our approach,” says Van Dyke, who prepared lace hairpieces (for face and body), painted contact lenses by hand, dentures, bags under the eyes, nasolabial folds, jowls, earlobes and even veins so that each of his characters is distinct.

In order to streamline the process, Downey shaved his head and also challenged the team to do their work quickly. “He clocked us on the first day!” Kousakis recalls with a laugh, adding that she, Burgoyne and Mekash quickly developed the fluid efficiency of a race car pit crew. Add…

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