“The thought of doing a Bond villain was an incredible task,” admits “No Time to Die” prosthetic makeup designer Barrie Gower. He joins makeup and hair designer Daniel Phillips and key prosthetic makeup artist Patt Foad to discuss their collaboration on MGM’s latest spy saga. Not only did this trio help to conclude the end of Daniel Craig’s 007 era, their skills were essential in transforming Rami Malek into the sinister Lyutsifer Safin, the latest in a pantheon of diabolical villains. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Like many of Bond’s great nemeses, Safin arrives on the scene with a terrifying visage: harsh scars cover his face and body, alluding to a dark backstory. “We wanted to do something very realistic,” explains Gower, noting the grittier tone of the script. The character’s scars were the result of a toxic poison, so the team researched that type of skin damage extensively.
The entire look, built out of many prosthetic pieces, took a couple months to create. Most impressively, the team had to create the makeup effects without Malek around for much of the time. The actor had a life cast made of his face the morning after winning the BAFTA for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but due to scheduling, the hair and makeup team wouldn’t see him again until several months later as production was commencing.
Although full-face prosthetic work is an intensive endeavor, the team was constantly running against a clock. “We had to keep the time down for Rami’s makeup,” notes Foad, in order to give the actor as much shooting time as possible. “That was a real test for us, to get the look that we wanted in a quite restricted, short time.” So the team came up with a look that would be easy to apply and easy to remove.
“We used to time ourselves,” reveals Gower with a laugh, reminiscing about having a stopwatch in hand for Malek’s entire time in the makeup chair. Each day they would try to beat the previous day’s record for makeup and hair application. “We became a well-oiled machine,” admits Foad. The trio describes a scene that sounds like a NASCAR pit crew, with each artist rushing in to apply prosthetics, makeup, or a wig in set intervals. This tag team approach reduced Malek’s total time in the chair to under two hours.
This is the first Bond film for all three artists and they arrived ready to give the world something fresh. “I approached it without any preconceived ideas of any previous Bonds,” states Phillips. He explains that it “was quite a conscious decision to bring a sense of reality” to the traditionally “candied” and glamorous style of the “Bond girl” archetype. “You’re governed by the script,” he continues. “Once you add too much glamor, too much color to that, you start to detract from the story.” “No Time to Die” is a far cry from the lighter tone of the earlier films. The stakes are dire, and the grittier approach to makeup and hair matches the adult action movie tone of this story. “It was quite exciting to be able to do something completely different,” says Phillips.
Phillips is an Oscar nominee for his work on “Victoria and Abdul.” He won two Emmys for “Arabian Nights” and “Bleak House,” and a BAFTA for “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Gower won three Emmys for “Game of Thrones.” He has two additional nominations for that fantasy series and a nomination for “Chernobyl.” He earned a BAFTA nomination for “Rocketman.” Foad earned two Emmy nominations, for “Game of Thrones” and “Chernobyl.”
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