From underneath a mask of green makeup, Jim Carrey helped make ”Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” a $200 million plus grossing holiday hit. But it’s special effects guru Rick Baker who transformed the star’s features, and supervised the Who-ing of more than 100 actors. A five time Oscar winner, Baker, 50, has been the go to man for slathering stars since the 1970s, having mastered werewolves (”An American Werewolf in London,” ”Wolf”), apes (”Gorillas in the Mist,” ”Greystoke,” ”Mighty Joe Young”), obese people (both ”Nutty Professors”), and others (”Men in Black,” Michael Jackson’s ”Thriller” video).
EW.com talked to the prosthesis pro about working with Jim Carrey and Eddie Murphy, why the Grinch doesn’t wear pants, and why he decided to go back to monkeying around for Tim Burton’s remake of ”Planet of the Apes.”
Jim Carrey has complained about how tough it was on him to get all Grinched up. Fair or unfair?
It was two and a half hours of makeup time, which is actually pretty short for an elaborate look like that. The Klumps were more like a three and a half hour makeup. The human stuff is harder, because on a fantasy character, if there’s some slight defect, you can probably get away with it – even though we didn’t allow that to happen.
Did the Grinch’s look go through many different permutations?
Yeah. The funny thing is, we ended up with what I started with. I did some initial design stuff and a test makeup on myself, which I normally do just to see what I’m putting somebody through and what it’s like on the inside. I showed it to [director] Ron Howard and [producer] Brian Grazer, and they thought it was too much. Basically, it was ”We’re paying Jim too much money; he’s too covered up.” So we went through six more tests, all the way down to pretty much just painting Jim green. At the last minute, they decided the first thing I did was really the best. I was thankful, because I would have been very disappointed to just see Jim painted green.
Were there discussions about whether or not the Grinch should be running around bare- assed?
I questioned that right away. I personally liked him when he was without a Santa suit. Being completely naked, he looked more like the Grinch. But he does have a big ass with a big crack in it, so it’s a ”What’s under all that hair?” kind of thing. There were a lot of discussions about that. We started out with a more obvious – for lack of a better term – butt crack on him, that we toned down somewhat. Boy, I have weird conversations in my business. Eddie Murphy always says, ”You talk about things that nobody else in the world talks about.”