Meet Star Wars Makeup Masters, Dave & Lou Elsey

The husband and wife Elseys team are responsible for such Star Wars Episode III creations as the Wookiees, the Utapauns, charred Anakin, and the twisted Emperor.
Creating believable and out-worldly creatures should be a lifetime passion, and husband and wife Elseys team are a living proof to that. Innovative and highly talented makeup masters, they are responsible for such Episode III creations as the Wookiees, the Utapauns, charred Anakin, and the twisted Emperor.
“The main part of it is changing body shapes – sort of designing soft mechanics. A lot of it is pattern-making. For the Wookiees, the costumes are made of articulated foam, so all of the bodies were cut flat, and then they were all glued together so that all of the muscles worked properly.”
“It’s movable sculpture, really,” added Dave Elsey, Creature Shop Creative Supervisor. “You have sculptures, just as you would with clay – bodies, shapes, muscles, tendons and everything. So a lot of what Lou does is to really create what they look like on the outside, but they have to work on the inside. Because we’re going to put an actor in there, and they’re going to have to survive.”
One of the actors required to endure the hardship of prosthetic makeup was Hayden Christensen, who underwent extensive makeup to turn him into the horribly scarred Darth Vader.
“Before doing Revenge of the Sith, I was doing a job where we were recreating every type of burn you could possibly think of,” recalls Dave Elsey. “We were researching the whole thing with paramedics, and really going into it. Then, when we heard about this film, we thought, surely this could be the most famous burns in history, because I had known Anakin was going to take the tumble since I was about 10 years old.”
The research provided Dave with the background needed to create an absolutely realistic burn victim, but a new challenge arose. Would absolute realism be appropriate for the bloodless-cauterized-wound world of Star Wars? “All the stuff that we know of is all really quite horrific stuff and quite scary, and originally we were thinking about how we were going to make this PG, but George said, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just make it good.’”
Also guiding the design was the unhelmeted Vader seen in Episode VI — the pasty and scarred face of actor Sebastian Shaw behind the mask. “When I was a kid, I was a little bit disappointed in that. I thought that if he had really gone through this ordeal, there would be much more scarring,” said Dave. “But we realized that this was a long time further, and a lot of reconstructive surgery had taken place since then. But we tried to get the scars in all the same place.”
Another one of Dave’s favorite original trilogy makeups was that of the Emperor, which also had to be resurrected in a younger, fresher state of injury for Episode III. “You haven’t seen a lot of him in the original movies,” he explains. “I was fascinated to see what was under the hood. We did a lot of early designs that were really quite crazy, and George came and calmed us down. Ian was very good in filling in the blanks. There weren’t a lot of photos taken of [the original Emperor], apart from the real famous ones you all have already seen. In order to research that, we just watched the movies over and over again.”

Comments are closed.