witch makeups: Big Fish

Big Fish

The Swamp Witch was a cameo role giving Helena Bonham Carter the opportunity to ham it up in this weird and wonderful Tim Burton movie: not to mention indulging her in her apparent love-hate relationship with prosthetics. She also has a second role as Jenny: appearing both young and middle-aged.

The makeup

The Stan Winston Studio was responsible for animatronic and makeup effects on the movie: Lindsay MacGowan and J Alan Scott were the effects Supervisors; Shane Mahan and John Rosengrant were the key artists. Aaron Sims is uncredited but states on his website that he was responsible for the design of the witch makeup.

Helena spoke of the makeup in one of her publicity interviews for the movie:

The witch was fun. I had a perverse pleasure, particularly in this profession which is so ageist and it’s so anti-wrinkle, to then become a witch and have people just pile it all on. I love that. Except that it took five hours, I didn’t love that. That was hideous. Then I thought I’m unbelievably stupid to not think this through (laughing). “Oh yeah, I’ll be a witch. That’ll be great.” And then suddenly I’m stuck there…

It was weird because I was pregnant throughout that so it was weird being a pregnant witch. I had morning sickness so all those fumes and the makeup and the rubber, it was hideous. I was in a really bad mood but luckily, because I sleep with the director, he just sort of scheduled me so I only had to do it two nights…

I love changing what I look like because I always feel super strange whenever I do watch something that I’m in. I think I’ve gone into a crazy character and then I watch it and then I think, “God, it’s me again.” So it’s nice to have the witch. At least I look different.

She also commented elsewhere on the witch’s eye:

When Tim said, “Do you want to play a witch?” I said, “Sure”, until I got into the chair and found that it involved eight hours of makeup. I had second thoughts then. I also had to wear this rather uncomfortable prosthetic glass eye. They sort of lift the lids of your eye much further than you thought possible and you walk around feeling like you have the worst case of conjunctivitis ever. That part wasn’t pleasant.