Joseph Merrick (5 August 1862 – 11 April 1890) was famous for his severe deformities. Merrick’s life was depicted in a film by David Lynch titled The Elephant Man. It was shot in black and white and featured make-up work by Christopher Tucker. The film was a critical and commercial success with eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. The Academy received widespread criticism for failing to honour the film’s make-up effects, and created the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling the next year. The film also won three BAFTA awards.
A huge influence on me when I was young was Chris Tucker’s groundbreaking Elephant Man makeup on the late John Hurt for the 1980 movie of the same name. My first job, aged 17, was working for Chris Tucker, and I got to see his Elephant Man display heads up close. In 2000 I got to create my own Elephant Man prosthetic for the Johnny Depp-starring ‘From Hell.’ It was a piece of work I was very proud of, especially as we did it as a full body foam latex makeup (see last two pictures).
Nearly twenty years later I’m at it again. This version was for the Matt Berry-starring comedy ‘Year of the Rabbit.’ Although a comedy show it was still important to be as realistic as possible. The only concession we made was not to distort the actor David Dawson’s mouth too much with the dentures as he had a lot of dialogue with quite energetic delivery.
Great fun project and a real team effort. Sculpt, mould and paint job by me; mould making, silicone running and paint Anthony Davies, Magda Kulig, Amber Hertzberg, and Morgan Kimber; application by Rebecca Butterworth, Magda Kulig, and Rob Mayor for Makeup designer @jojenkinsmakeup and Millennium FX Ltd.