Now that the SDCC Wolfman panel frenzy has tapered off a bit, I think it’s safe to talk about the recent interviews with Rick Baker. Baker, if you didn’t know, is the special effects guru who brought on the fur and claws in An American Werewolf in London, The Howling, Werewolf (the TV series), Wolf, Cursed, and most recently, the forthcoming Wolfman remake. Basically, if you need a werewolf designed for the screen, Baker’s your man. MTV Movies and the always-awesome shocktillyoudrop.com both recently spoke with Baker regarding his werewolf work on The Wolfman.
Baker talks about how they went “old school” on the werewolf makeup: “It’s yak hair glued onto his face and a rubber nose, it was even foam rubber… acrylic teeth and yak hair.” It seems he wasn’t willing to subject Benicio Del Toro to anything he hadn’t already tried on himself first:
…on this film and almost everything I do, usually do a version to fit me first. Try the stuff out on myself first, because that’s how I learned makeup. I like it. [laughs] I’m going to be the Wolfman before Benicio! I did a makeup on myself and shot some stuff.
On the subject of the werewolf transformation scenes, though, he’s rather ticked off. It seems the producers aren’t involving him in any of the transformation scenes, and have opted to do everything with CG effects. That seems crazy to me– I mean, you have a guy on staff who won an Academy Award for bringing off what I think we can all agree is still the finest werewolf transformation ever put on film, and you decide to snub him in favour of polygons and texture maps. What gives? Baker isn’t taking it laying down, though.
So, I’m lobbying to be part of that; I’ve been talking to the producers and saying ‘It’s my creation in the end, there’s a certain logic in the design of it. I know it’s different between Benicio’s face and the wolf face, because I sculpted that face. I know how the anatomy changes; I should at least be giving some guidance to the guys who are doing [the transformation in CGI].
If I quote anything more I’m going to end up posting all of the interview text here, so I recommend checking them out for yourself. The MTV interview has some interesting details regarding the number of teeth a werewolf should have, and the shocktillyoudrop.com interview has some great info about the werewolf’s design, and how easy it is to make the already-lupine Del Toro look like a werewolf.