After you watch a horror movie, it may stick with you for a while. But have you ever wondered what it’s like for an actor to transform himself into something out of a nightmare? The power of makeup does not only help you to look prettier, but it can also make you become a totally different person (or creature). Horror movie actors in and out of makeup might make you take a second look at some pictures.
You may have heard of Bonnie Adams from films such as The Conjuring 2 (2016) or The Nun (2018). According to her bio on Wikipedia, “Aarons attended acting school in New York City, but was frequently told that she would not have an acting career, due to her look and her nose.” But it was actually her appearance that brought her success. What many may not know is the fact that she was scaring the audience long before the role of the demon nun. You might want to take a look at Aarons’ interpretation of the character Bum in Mulholland Drive (2001). Many consider the character’s brief jump-scare appearance to be one of cinema’s most genuinely terrifying moments. Bonnie Aarons is considered one of the most representative horror movie actors nowadays.
When The Ring came out in 2002, Daveigh Chase was only 12. And despite her few lines in the movie, she managed to creep the heck out the audience. Nowadays, the girl from the tape is nothing like you would have imagined. Even though she didn’t have any other role as a horror movie actor, she still put her mark on the genre.
In 2004, actress Takako Fuji haunted our nightmares as Kayako Saeki, the main ghost in The Grudge horror franchise. In an interview, the actress declared that the makeup process took along two hours. But she was happy that by the second movie, she would have spent less time in front of the mirror becoming Kayako. She also mentioned that she believes in ghosts and this role exhausts her both physically and mentally. When asked how she acts on set when she is on full makeup, she replied: “[laughs] I’m quite myself. I talk, I smoke cigarettes. Everybody thinks Kayako smoking a cigarette is so funny.”
In 2017, Bill Skarsgård brought to life a more modern face of Pennywise in the movie IT. He had a hard time studying this character and paid a lot of attention to the book by Stephen King. Pennywise’s demonic smile is created by Skarsgård drooping his lower lip down so that it almost comes to a point. That’s not a prosthetic or digital effect, but simply something he’s always been able to do. “I do this thing with my lip. It’s a thing that I’ve been doing since I was a little kid, and I always wanted to bring this, like, lip thing to a character,” he explained. He was also able to do the lazy eye. Nevertheless, Bill’s character inspired a lot of Halloween costumes and makeup tutorials.
Every horror fan must have heard of Clive Barker’s 1987 Hellraiser. In an interview, Dough Bradley said that the makeup for Pinhead lasted somewhere between four and six hours. He also said that the key to acting as best as possible is to reread the script as many times as you have to. The first time he transformed himself into Pinhead, he stayed for twenty minutes alone in front of the mirror and in that moment he managed to understand the character.
Tom Woodruff Jr.
Pumpkinhead was initially designed as a demon with a very large, angular head, withered facial features, and long, clawed fingers. The studio artists created a sculpture from which they developed the final costume. To avoid tearing it, Tom Woodruff was glued into it at the beginning of the shooting day, and remained in the foam rubber suit for up to eight hours at a time. Horror movie actors’ job is harder than what we have imagined.
When Gunnar Hansen was cast for the role of Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), the director, Tobe Hooper, was not interested in his talent, but in his violence. He didn’t want someone who could speak, but someone who could best play a serial killer. In an interview, Hansen said that the footage of the film was harder because of the Texas heat and the mask he had to wear. “And peering out from underneath my leather mask was practically impossible during one scene I stumbled and fell, pitching the chain saw up over my head. I covered my head and waited. It landed next to me, still running.”