Painful makeup prosthetics that put actors through hell
It’s hard to feel sorry for millionaire movie stars, but spare a thought for these poor souls who suffered for their art by submitting to some seriously painful prosthetics.
Jim Carrey – How The Grinch Stole Christmas
The comedian’s transformation into Dr Seuss’s grumpy creation is extraordinary and earned make-up artists Rick Baker and Gail Rowell-Ryan an Oscar.
But it came at a price. The latex took eight hours to apply and the yellow contact lenses were so sore that in some shots, the colour had to be added in post-production because it was too painful to wear them.
Still, the actor had some help getting used to the costume – the production hired an ex-CIA agent who trained the star in torture-resistance techniques to get him through it.
Jennifer Lawrence – X-Men: First Class
A doctor had to be called to set during shooting when the actress experienced a skin reaction to the blue paint she wore as Mystique, causing irritation, boils and blisters.
Taking eight hours to apply and requiring seven artists, the experience was so unpleasant that the star insisted on wearing a full-body suit instead for the sequels.
Robin Williams – Popeye
The sailor man is one of the great Williams’ performances, even if the film was an epic flop.
But he suffered for it. The prosthetic arms he wore to emulate Popeye’s famous muscles actually cut off his circulation, meaning he was in pain every time he had to put them on.
Buddy Ebsen – The Wizard of Oz
You don’t actually see Ebsen in the final movie because despite being cast as the Tin Man, he almost died after wearing the make-up during early production and was replaced by Jack Haley.
The original Tin Man make-up contained aluminium dust, which Ebsen ingested into his lungs, causing him to be rushed to hospital with respiratory distress and severe cramps. The dust was later switched to paste after he’d been recast.
John Hurt – The Elephant Man
The movie make-up for John Merrick was designed from real casts taken from him when he was alive and took eight hours to put on as well as two to remove.
Hurt would get to set at five in the morning every day and would be ready to shoot by noon, filming until ten at night.
The star found the process incredibly difficult and strenuous, calling his wife to say, “I think they finally managed to make me hate acting.”
John Rhys-Davies – The Lord of the Rings
Turning the 6’1” actor into Gimli regularly took three hours, but Rhys-Davies also suffered an allergic reaction to the make-up, causing his face to swell.
It meant that he could only work on alternate days so that his skin had a day off to recover.
Rebecca Romijn – X-Men
Proving just how arduous it is to play a mutant, this is the second time Mystique has appeared on this list.
Romijn originated the role of the shapeshifter and her costume took a staggering nine hours to attach, including 110 different prosthetic pieces.
Not only that, but she had to be extremely careful to maintain the state of her body chemistry otherwise the scales would fall off, meaning she couldn’t drink alcohol, fly or use skin creams.
Max von Sydow – The Exorcist
The Swede was only 44 when he played the 80-year-old Father Merrin, meaning he had to wear old-age make-up during the film.
Created by legendary artist Dick Smith, his face was stretched and pulled and covered in latex on a daily basis, which von Sydow found very tough to endure.