Turning Hopkins into ‘Hitchcock’

Hitchcock” just made the shortlist of seven semi-finalists for Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the Oscars. Among the achievements being lauded is the transformation of Oscar champ Anthony Hopkins (“Silence of the Lambs”) into the portly director with the distinctive profile.

The two men responsible for this uncanny recreation — special effects makeup designer Howard Berger  and hair stylist Martin Samuel — chatted with Gold Derby about their efforts.

Berger won an  an Oscar for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (2005) and an Emmy for “The Walking Dead” (2010) while Samuel was an Oscar nominee for both “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003) and “Pirates of the Caribben: At World’s End” (2006). 

“The key word we used is not ‘likeness’ or ‘caricature’,” says Berger, “but ‘portrait’. What that means is that you want to find a way to create the illusion that you are not disguising your actor. You’re giving them the tools to be able to portray the characters properly and seamlessly. It was a lot of trial and error.”

Berger spent six weeks in pre-production developing six different makeups. “It was a lot of trial and error. In that time we did basically a makeup a week. We would find things that worked and things that didn’t work. We were all very critical, but it was constructive. It wasn’t until the night before we started shooting that we had a final makeup.”

“Really it came down to Tony (Hopkins). He felt that he was comfortable enough in what the character was that we could start losing things. Originally every test we did had dentures, because Hitchcock actually had some pretty nasty teeth. At first Tony loved them, but the night before he said, ‘I want to lose them. It’s hindering me.’ We altered things through the course.”

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Creating Hitchcock’s receding hairline was a challenge unto itself. “Anthony Hopkins has a full head of white hair,” explains Samuels. “We shaved the whole top of his head and colored it in. Then we added a hair-lace piece over the crown to give the whole illusion of a receding hairline.”

Hopkins would undergo an hour-and-a-half of makeup every morning, which also included contact lenses and a fat suit. “He was in character all day,” reveals Berger. “It’s amazing to work with an actor like that, who cares so much about everything, not just about his own performance. He respected the fact that Martin and I had work to do and it was only going to benefit him.”

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