Oscar winner Kazu Hiro (‘Gaslit’ prosthetic makeup designer) on why he ‘couldn’t say no’ to Sean Penn [Exclusive Video Interview]

“It’s a great honor,” says two-time Oscar winner Kazu Hiro about receiving his first Emmy nomination. After taking home Academy Awards for “Darkest Hour” (2017) and “Bombshell” (2019), Hiro earned his first Emmy bid this year for Best Prosthetic Makeup on the Starz limited series “Gaslit.” “It is rare to work on TV shows. I’ve had some opportunities in the past, but this time it’s an honor because it was great to work with Sean.”Watch our exclusive video interview above.

Sean Penn had been soliciting Hiro’s makeup work for various projects throughout the years. Their schedules never seemed to line up until this program came along and Hiro was able to transform the Oscar winner into John Mitchell, President Richard Nixon’s former Campaign Chairman and Attorney General. “Sean contacted me for ‘Gaslit’ and it was good timing. It was during the pandemic. Right after the first big pandemic we got so busy because everybody started to make shows. But I couldn’t say no to him because I wanted to work with him for a long time. That’s why I said yes.”

SEE over 200 interviews with 2022 Emmy nominees

“Gaslit” premiered on Starz on April 24 and shines its light most prominently on Martha Mitchell (played by Julia Roberts), a big personality and whistleblower who was the first to publicly expose President Nixon’s involvement in Watergate. She was an Arkansan socialite and wife to Mitchell (Penn).

When asked why “Final Days” was submitted as the episode to best represent Hiro’s work, he laughs, stating, “Basically, I wanted to include as many people as possible. It was a great episode, but at the same time, I wanted to be fair to everybody who worked on it. Also, Vincent Van Dyke designed another character, so I wanted to include everybody. And during the filming there was a COVID restriction, so we had to go through a hiatus and we lost two makeup artists. New makeup artists started to apply makeup on the set. So that episode had enough hours that all of them worked on.”

Hiro also explains his use of 3-D scanners to build prosthetics, the hours of work it takes to construct and apply makeup and his personal journey of going from an aspiring artist in Japan to having an Oscar-winning career in Hollywood.

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