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Bill Curso is a makeup artist with thirty plus years under his belt, he’s got three Oscar nominations with one win, five Emmy nominations with three wins, and has worked on some of the most iconic films of the last thirty years. But what does it take to make Ryan Reynolds and the cast of Deadpool 2, based on comic book characters, look believable?
For one thing, Bill had to strategize, experiencing Deadpool’s world on the first film, he realized that having Reynolds in the chair for three hours is taxing on the actor. He saw an opportunity to cut this time to 90 minutes. “I wanted to revisit the sculptures [on Deadpool 2] and refine it a bit… so I completely re-engineered the makeup, I resculpted it, I removed things I didn’t like about it… and tweaked things... and we reduced it to around 90 min.”
Bill also had to persevere due to the heavy action sequences of Deadpool 2. These sequences would rip and damage the prosthetics that Bill and his team had developed for the shoot. Although this was a problem for all the characters in the film, it particularly became an issue with Josh Brolin, who’s character Cable had straps that would tear at the prosthetics. “The way Josh’s character is designed, he’s got shoulder straps, gun straps, and guns, and weapons, and he’s whipping guns around, it was basically a costume and character designed to destroy makeup.”
One of the big questions I had for Bill was where does makeup end and the VFX begin. In our current world effects plays a significant role in every film, and VFX also affects the makeup department. This is where Bill is cutting-edge in his makeup technique, he started a company called The Digital Makeup Group and offers it to productions and film’s he works on as an extension of his onset work. “In many cases, they will be doing fixes and corrections of makeup in post-production.” So he's hired experts in the visual effects field who are also extremely knowledgeable about makeup and makeup techniques on set, this allows him to fix and correct issues from the set, alter the makeup in post-production, or even add makeup that wasn't there before. It helps ensure the quality of the makeup and his work as well as his team's work maintains the high standards he sets for himself. It's also a way for the production and a production team to ensure that the quality and look are consistent and are handled by people who know what they're doing with makeup instead of handing it off to VFX artist who doesn't understand makeup and why things are done a particular way.
Ryan Reynolds wasn't the only one who needed to be made to look ugly. Josh Brolin (Cable) was brought on late to the production and this forced bill and his team play catch up. “I did multiple designs for other actors before Josh came on, we were very close to shooting, and we had no Cable yet…” because of this the makeup for Cable’s scar changed throughout the shoot “...he started shooting the movie with a completely different scar”. Seeing as Brolin's character had a disease that turns them into a robot they also found a unique way to create the look and feel of metal under his skin we “ needed to use thin material for the skin so you could see the metal underneath, a very thin material, and the metal needed to be rigid but still allow for movement. This looked great,” but this also helped make Brolin’s time in the chair much longer.
Finally, Bill was given the freedom to explore, particularly with the character Domino, played by Zazie Beets. In the comic Domino is an all-white character with a black spot over her eye Zazie Beets is a black actress and Bill needed to come up with a way to either make her match the comic or come up with a new look. So after weeks of tests and exploring, he decided to go in an opposite direction from the comic books. They then needed to decide what to do about the spot over Domino's eye:
“Are we doing a black dot, white dot, is it a birth defect, it’s tough translating from the comic book to the screen, we finally realized, what if her character had vitiligo? So we camera tested that and then I came up with the idea of a contact lens to make the eye stand out and we just all loved it…”
So what does it take to make Ryan Reynolds ugly and to bring his team of misfits to the big screen in Deadpool 2? It took everything Bill had and more, but the look and feel of his work made the film’s characters feel real and not merely a comic book image.
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