Interview with Emmy Winning Make-Up Artist Paul Engelen (Game of Thrones)

Paul Engelen is is 2 time Emmy winner, and 2 time Oscar nominated Makeup artist. He has worked on some of the greatest/most successful films and TV shows in the last 40 years, including: Game of Thrones (2 Emmy wins), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Oscar nomination), The Legend of Tarzan (Oscar nomination), Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (dir. George Lucas), Gladiator (dir. Ridley Scott), Munich (dir. Steven Spielberg), Batman (dir. Tim Burton) and Reds (dir. Warren Beatty).

Many have stated that his makeup design for Nicole Kidman on “The Hours” is the key reason for her Oscar Win for Best Actress (see pic below). The same can be said for his work on Renée Zellweger for her Oscar Win on “Cold Mountain”. How those films received zero Oscar nominations for Makeup is still a mystery.

It was an honor to chat with Paul Engelen and talk about his art:

Matthew Toffolo: You’ve worked on over 80 Productions as a Makeup Artist in the last 45 years. Do you have a favorite experience?

Paul Engelen: Every new project presents challenges, experiences and memories. I would say I have been extremely lucky to have had a very wide variety and range of projects to work on. I suppose if pressed, I would mention working on ‘Empire of the Sun” and ‘Star Wars, The Phantom Menace’ to be particular highlights, but I would also name “Pink Floyd, The Wall’ to be a fascinating experience. My present project for NBC, directed by Tarsem Singh; ‘The Emerald City’ is proving just as interesting though!

PHOTO: Paul with Director George Lucas on ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’:

PE & Lucas.jpg

MT: Is there a type of story/film that you would love to work on that you haven’t worked on yet? Or have you covered all of your bases?

PE: I think I have covered most bases! Contemporary stories to science fiction, several medieval themes which I must admit, is probably my favourite genre. I’d love to do a ‘western’, directed by someone like Tarantino!

MT: You’ve won 2 Emmys (for Game of Thrones) and have been nominated for 2 Oscars. Does winning or losing mean a lot to you? Or it is really just about the film?

PE: It’s great being nominated, but winning is a blast!! It means your peers think your work is worthy.

MT: What is the main job being the Makeup Department Head on a production?

PE: Well, I would say, it’s about all the aspects of the running a department. Putting a crew together that would be the best for the production. The conversations and collaboration with director, production and costume designers are all paramount in going into production.

PHOTO: Paul with Director/Actor Clint Eastwood on ‘White Hunter, Black Heart’: 

PE & Clint.jpg

MT: What has been your most difficult job and/or production to date?

PE: Movies generally have a specific format regarding the production structure, which is the area I come from, so it was quite a shock when ‘Game of Thrones” came my way, and I had to put my mind to working on 10 scripts, with two, sometimes three separate units shooting in different countries at the same time! Very testing. Since then, I am being offered more of this type of production, which, although very challenging, I do find stimulating.

MT: You’ve worked on many fantasy and action movies/TV shows. Is there a reason why you seem to love working in these genres?

PE: Again, I have been very lucky in the type of productions that has been offered to me. I am comfortable with the larger type of production with big name directors, irrespective of genres. Often the actors can be a contributing influence on the reason for working on a particular project.

MT: How has the makeup department changed from 35 years ago to today?

PE: I don’t think things have changed much over the years. It has always been ‘challenging’ to put creative people together for months on end, and hope that the peace can be maintained!! I like to think people who work with me look forward to getting together on shows!

PHOTO: Paul with actor Val Kilmer on ‘The Saint’:

PE & Kilmer.jpg

MT: Besides the films you’ve worked on, what movie have you seen the most in your life?

PE: I still absolutely adore watching Gregory Peck in ‘Moby Dick’, which, incidentaly had Charlie Parker as the Makeup Designer, who was one of the finest artists in our profession. Such a wonderful film.

MT: Do you have any advice for high school and university students who want to work makeup in the film industry?

PE: It’s a tough business to be in, but incredibly rewarding when you see your work up there on display. – and to be honest, there is a certain amount of luck involved with getting work in the first place, but perseverance and striving to be the best is essential.

PHOTO: Paul with actor Mel Gibson on “Mutiny on the Bounty’.:

PE & Gibson.jpg

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

PHOTO: Nicole Kidman transforms via makeup in “The Hours”:

nicolekidman_the_hours.jpg

Interview with Makeup Artist Luigi Rocchetti (Gangs of New York, The Devil’s Advocate)

Based in Italy, Luigi Rocchetti has worked with some of the greatest filmmakers of our time as the lead Makeup artist. He currently just wrapped the remake production of Ben-Hur. It was such a pleasure speaking with him about the art of makeup in film.

Matthew Toffolo: You have been a makeup artist and designer on over 70 productions in the last 35 years. Is there a film/TV show or two that you’re most proud of?

Luigi Rochetti: I have to say, “Dolores Claiborne”, directed by Taylor Hackford. At that time there was no Silicon prosthetics to use for aging actors and in that project I had three major actors to make twenty years older. We used stipple aging, with highligths and shadows. I have to give big thanks to the collaboration of the actors, director and director of photography. I think the results were really good and I’m very proud .

PHOTO: Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Dolores Claiborne”:

dolores-claiborne.jpg

MT: Can you give us a teaser of what we’ll expect to see in “Ben-Hur”? How was it to work on the remake of such an iconic film? That’s seems like it would be a very daunting and overwhelming task!

Yes, daunting and overwhwhelming indeed. This is an immense project and the ghost around of the 1959 movie is always around the set. The look that the Director wanted is completely different from the old, is more real and less fashioned. The two major scenes, the race and the Galea battle, with the help of digital will look amazing.

We will soon see the response of the audience and critics. Let’s cross the fingers.

PHOTO: Behind the Scenes on the NEW “Ben-Hur”:

ben_hur

MT: What is the main job being the Makeup Department Head on a production?

The main job for a Makeup Head on a movie is for me to do something that follows and helps the story without bothering the audience. That means never going over the top. Often I see movies with forced makeup. Like they are doing something something to show how good they are. You know what I mean?

MT: Being a makeup artist is more than just doing the face….right?

I do Makeup trying to help the actors in their performances – that’s the biggest part of my job.

MT: The film “The Young Messiah” will be hitting the theatres soon. How what that experience like? How was doing makeup for Jesus Christ?

To work on “The Young Messiah” has been funny and interesting as in all Christ movies. It is a tender story of young Christ at six years old. Regarding make up, we had a lot of layered beards and some characterization in the Herod’s Palace and for the Devil.

This is not the first Jesus movie I worked on, my first experience was to do the makeup for Willem Dafoe in “The Last Temptation of Christ” and the more recently “Nativity Story”. Of course the crucifixion in “Ben Hur” and in others scenes at the market. So I covered most of Jesus’ life!

PHOTO: Still Shot from “The Young Messiah”:

girl_young_messiah

MT: What makeup designer task do you love to do the most?

Period movies for sure are my preference. I think they are the most challeging because we are taking a real life situation with real people. Science fiction is interesting as you can mix things and make it look unreal as everything is acceptable. With real life no! Is what it is!

MT: What type of film would you love to do makeup for that you haven’t done yet?

I would love to work on a Western movie. I had just one experience for a TV project in New Mexico and I had a lot of fun. I loved the old Sergio Leone Movies and hope some other Italian Director will follow this style.

MT: How has the makeup department changed from 35 years ago to today?

The makeup has changed in terms of materials and its challenging with the HD advent for us because it’s more difficult to hide the make up. Film gives a movie a sort of charm and mystery that HD does not. But you have to roll with the times.

MT: Besides the films you’ve worked on, what movie have you seen the most in your life?

“Once Upon Time In America”

MT: Do you have any advice for high school and university students who want to work makeup in the film industry?

This is not an easy answer. There are so many make-up schools and everyone claims to be the best. If there is a chance to watch a makeup artist at work, from the best to the worst, everyone can teach you something. That’s what I would do now if I was attempting to get into the industry.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.