Behind the Scenes: Making Michael Douglas Younger in “Ant-Man” and Wigs and Makeup for Key and Peele
Posted on July 26, 2015 at 8:00 am
“Ant-Man” begins with a flashback to 1989, with Michael Douglas appearing not as he looks to day but as he looked 25 years ago. How did they do that? Special effects that are called “digital make-up.” New York Magazine’s Vulture has the story. They spoke to Trent Claus of Lola VFX, who had both the advantage and disadvantage of a ton of reference material.
Unlike on previous transformations, they had a plenty of reference material — multiple feature films’ worth — of exactly what a 45-year-old Michael Douglas would look like. To hear Claus tell it, this was both a blessing and a curse. “It helped us a lot to have that reference,” he said, “but it made us work harder, because the audience already knew what he looked like at that age. There wasn’t a whole lot of leeway.”
De-aging an actor is essentially giving them a digital face-lift, and Lola’s team do the same work with digital composites a skilled plastic surgeon would do with a scalpel. The two professions turn out to have similar ways of talking. “The most obvious thing is that the skin along the jaw in most people tends to get lower and lower and sag a little bit as you get older. Particularly around the throat and the Adam’s Apple area, you’ll get a build-up of extra skin down there,” Claus told me. “One thing we’ll have to do to de-age someone is restore that elasticity and try to not only to remove the excess skin, but pull it back up to where it once was.”
Our cheeks thin out and sink as we get older, so Lola also added a little more fat to the middle of Douglas’s cheeks. And since human ears and noses never stop growing, they also had to shrink Douglas’s back to their 1980s’ sizes, as well as remove some of his ear wrinkles. Then it came time to restore what Claus called Douglas’s “youthful glow,” adding shine to his skin and hiding the blood vessels in his nose.
Equally transformative are the “practical” (real-life) effects created by the magnificent wig and makeup team for “Key and Peele.” It is almost impossible to imagine that all of these characters are played by just two actors.
Slate has a great story about Amanda Mofield, the show’s hair stylist, and Scott Wheeler, their makeup artist. Describing the college bowl sketch, Wheeler said, “We shot the first one—we did 32 characters, made them up, wigged them and shot them—in two hours, total. The way we made that work was … we were doing very small tweaks on each character, and slowly building up the facial hair. And then when they showed the characters, they showed them out of the order from how we made them up, so they looked like bigger jumps. And that was our master plan that worked perfectly.”