ape makeups: Nova (Planet of the Apes)

Planet of the Apes (2001) – Nova

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 .

During a dinner party at Senator Sandar’s house Nova (Lisa Marie – Tim Buton’s then partner in a cameo role) performs a strange wild mating ritual before her husband. Unlike Ari, Nova was not a defender of humans.

As with Helena Bonham Carter, this was by no means Lisa Marie’s first experience of the joys of prosthetic makeup.

The makeup

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, of course, a large team of talented makeup artists.

Geneva Nash Morgan informs me:

Jamie Kelman [Kelman Studio] and I (Geneva Nash-Morgan) did Nova. He and I both did the makeup and a hairdresser named Mitch Stone styled the wig.

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 – never mind in the same species. In one interview Rick Baker, speaking of Ari, spoke of 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.

Lisa Marie described the makeup experience:

It’s an interesting process because I’ve done a lot of film and acting work with makeup and wigs so I’m kind of used to it. But there is a different quality when I had my ape makeup on because it was such an animalistic thing. The makeup process for ‘Planet of the Apes’ was less painful! ‘Mars Attacks’ was very painful because I couldn’t sit in the dress, it had to be sewn on me and I had a wig that weighed 20 pounds on my head. It was heavy and I had to carry that weight for many many hours … the makeup for ‘Planet of the Apes’ was very light in comparison. I knew I had to articulate more clearly and define my m0vements more precisely but I actually wasn’t aware of the weight of the makeup. Both makeups took about 6 hours to put on.