updated: 11/07/2008

Planet of the Apes makeups: Ari

Tim Burton’s reworking of Planet of the Apes was brilliantly done but suffered from two flaws: the actors did not stand comparison to the cast of the original movie; the requirement for a human to find Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) sexually attractive which resulted in a flawed design for the female apes .

Helena Bonham Carter played Ari and somewhere referred to the role as her ‘ultimate attempt to try to put the corset to bed’. This women seems to have a fascination with prosthetics and funny dentures – she’d already worn prosthetics and/or dentures in The Revengers’ Comedies; Merlin; and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: more recently she’s worn prosthetics as a witch in Big Fish, as a terminator in Terminator Salvation, and as the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland; she’s worn dentures again in Novocaine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and as Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter movies. In the best traditions of there being lies, damned lies, statistics and movie PR she has variously been reported as saying:

I love the idea of prosthetics. I had done a bit of prosthetics – in Frankenstein I was a bit of a monster at the end – but I had never done a whole part under a mask. I loved the idea that I could be free of my face and inhabit somebody else’s.

The makeup [process] is just so boring that it would have to be a fantastic part for me to go through that again. The ratio of waiting around to actually being on camera is bad enough on any film, but doing something in prosthetics makes it that times 100.

Whatever, the makeup process must have been an endurance test:

It seemed like forever. Usually about four hours or so which meant getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning so that you would be ready on the set at 7 am. That’s hard to endure and by the end of the filming your nerves become completely frayed. You’d start to resent the actors who didn’t have to go through the ape makeup process.

Pictures of the makeup application process will follow.

The makeup for the male apes of the various species was superb: that for the females while technically as brilliant was marred by design compromises (eyebrows? hairstyles? lips?): they do not look as if they belong in the same movie. In one interview Rick Baker admitted the risk:

Tim said he wanted her to be attractive to a human male. I told him, that’s going to be tough, because if you’re just looking at a chimp’s face, it’s really hard to tell a female from a male, and some of them are hideously ugly … Trying to humanize her would only make matters worse – it would make her even more grotesque, like a freak human.

Planet of the Apes was a makeup epic: Rick Baker was the makeup designer: Kazuhiro Tsuji was key makeup artist and makeup designer for Thade; Alex Proctor was key prosthetic makeup supervisor; Toni G and John Blake were makeup supervisors; Bill Sturgeon was makeup production supervisor; plus a large team of talented makeup artists. I believe Toni G and Deborah Patino (prosthetic makeup artist) were primarily responsible for Helena Bonham Carter; Mitchell Stone was responsible for her hair.