GLENDALE, Calif. (Reuters) - Adhering to child labor laws and building an authentic-looking facial structure were key concerns for make-up artist Arjen Tuiten in his work on the movie “Wonder”, which has been nominated for an Oscar.
The film tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a boy with a rare genetic disorder that causes facial deformities, who is played by Jacob Tremblay.
As the movie opens, Auggie’s parents, played by Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts, decide to stop homeschooling him, and instead enrol him in a mainstream middle school.
“If this would have looked fake or mask-y, the whole movie wouldn’t have worked,” said Tuiten, referring to the prosthetics used to depict Auggie’s face.
“There’s just no other film where a 9-year-old has been in full prosthetics as a lead.”
Tuiten and his team made an under-skull helmet with a wire system covered in tubing, which was used to pull Tremblay’s eyebags down and make his eyes appear droopy. An overlay of rubber pieces and a wig completed the look.
As Tremblay was only nine at the time of filming, child labor laws restricted his hours of work, so Tuiten had to devise a method to put on the prosthetics quickly and easily.
Getting into character began with combing his hair back, Tremblay said, adding, “After he does that, I have to sit in the chair for an hour-and-a-half. And then...I look like a completely different person.”
The creator of the iconic Pale Man in the movie “Pan’s Labyrinth”, and Angelina Jolie’s twisted, black horns in “Maleficent”, Tuiten said his job as a special effects make-up artist was a pure labor of love.
“In my life, I’ve never ever wanted to do anything else other than make-up effects and creating these characters,” he said. “I was nine when I knew I wanted to do make-up and from that point, it’s never changed.”
Two other films go up against “Wonder” in the Oscar category for Makeup and Hairstyling - “Darkest Hour” and “Victoria & Abdul”. The winner will be announced at the Academy Awards on March 4.
Reporting by Rollo Ross; Writing by Karishma Singh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez