INTERVIEW: ‘Suspiria’ Spoiler Filled Interview With Prosthetic Make-up Designer Mark Coulier

Interviewed by Fiona Underhill

For our latest Sunday Spotlight, Fiona sat down to interview Academy Award-winning prosthetic make-up designer, Mark Coulier, who has worked on films such as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel – for which Coulier won the Oscar for ‘Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling’ in 2015,  Ready Player One, the Harry Potter series, and upcoming films Stan & Ollie and Pinocchio!

Fiona chatted with Coulier about his recent work in the Suspiria remake and the use of practical effects for some of its standout scenes, so there are spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t seen the film yet!

You’ve been warned…


I have to start with what is a stand-out scene, from a make-up point of view and that’s the infamous scene with Olga in the mirrored dance studio, where she’s being contorted and twisted – how much of that was practical and how much was CGI? How did you achieve that scene?

So, I’d spoken with Luca (Guadagnino, director) about that scene quite early on in our conversations about the film and he wanted that to be a pretty brutal scene that establishes how dangerous the situation is and he wanted to, I think the word was ‘pulverize’ this woman and break her down so we talked about how to do that practically, we wanted most of it to be practical. I’d seen Deliverance, I mentioned this guy who gets washed down a river and his arm gets dislocated and it’s twisted round his shoulder and it looks pretty intense. We decided that would be a good place to start – to twist this woman’s arm around and break her jaw, what else could we do that would make her all twisted and contorted? He had this amazing dancer called Elena Fokina playing the part and she was able to do a lot of the stuff herself. So we started off with the arm and then we did the leg and the rib cage – we did a prosthetic chest piece for her and a jaw piece and we moved her teeth. It kind of built from there really and we tried to get her into this position at the end where she was completely broken down and twisted up. It was Luca who wanted her to look really destroyed.

So it sounds like it was heavily practical then?

It was all practical in the sense that it was prosthetic appliances, the visual effects side of it was that they removed her real arm and her real leg. I think they augmented the jaw being twisted into place. So I’d say it’s about 75% us and 25% visual effects.

I have to ask about the character of Dr Josef Klemperer (played by Tilda Swinton). I think the creation of that character, from the performance combined with the make-up is just absolutely phenomenal. I want to ask about how you built that character – I mean the detail on the face is just sensational – how did you achieve that?

Thank you. That was Luca calling up and I think he’d seen Grand Budapest Hotel and we’d done an age make-up on Tilda Swinton in that film and Luca wanted to see if it was possible, to see if we could turn Tilda Swinton into this old Jewish man. So we did a test make-up probably eighteen months before the film actually started, just to see if it was possible. The test make-up was totally different to the Josef Klemperer character that you see in the movie, but it gave Tilda and Luca an idea of what we could possibly do. It was an idea that Luca had that he wanted all the characters, the strong characters to be female. This idea of Tilda playing this part is linked to the idea of the three witches that are the core of the story – Mother Suspirium, Mother Tenebrarum, Mother Lacrymarum – and he wanted Tilda to play the three parts of Madame Markos, Madame Blanc and Klemperer. So that was it really, that was the start of it, so we did a test to see if we could possibly do it and we ended up re-sculpting it and re-making it and applying it to the finished character.

I heard a rumour that she even had a prosthetic penis, can I ask if that’s true?

That is true, yes. Well it was really more of a weighted thing that we put in there because she wanted to feel masculine, so she wanted to feel this weight between her legs. So I guess it’s a bit like Robert De Niro wearing silk underpants to play Al Capone. One of those little things that nobody else will see but it makes her feel more of the part.

I have to ask about the finale – how long did it take to shoot that sequence and what was the preparation, what were the decisions involved in that sequence? Again, how practical was it, how many buckets of blood did you use etc?

Yes, again, it was heavily practical. This is not a big budget, we had very little time for everything. We had nine weeks, we were supposed to have fourteen weeks, but we had nine weeks which is not a lot of time. We had full body suits – we did the character of Death, which is really intense and quite a  character to create. We had the character of Markos to do – the witch, which is also Tilda Swinton playing that character in full body make-up which is pretty intense. And we had all sorts of stuff – we had disembowelments, lots of crazy stuff that Luca wanted to create for that finale. And we sort of created a workshop out where we were shooting and I brought people over from the UK and we were just frantically building things and finishing things off while we were out there. As well as making stuff in the UK, we did a full body make-up on Chloe Moretz. We were supposed to do that for two days I think and we ended up doing that make-up for five or six days. So we were frantically building pieces and making pieces out in this abandoned hotel where we were shooting everything in Italy. And it was quite intense but it was quite practical, a lot of it was practical, a lot of visual effects augmentation of the self, the blood, the bodies being destroyed, pulling the intestines out. [spoilers] We had the dead Patricia, the dead Olga make-up, we had Markos – which was this big full bodysuit thing that we built for Tilda, who was also playing Madame Blanc in that scene. We had the make-up where she gets her head chopped off…or almost chopped off. So, again, it was about 75-25 practical – there was visual effects involvement. And when you read that stuff on the page and spoke to Luca about it, it was really hard to try and work out in your mind what Luca actually wanted, what was it going to look like, you know?

What was the detail like in the script, what were the descriptions like?

I think Luca just wanted it to be a descent into madness, which is at the core of the witches. This is all going to ramp up and the film builds slowly into this big crescendo at the end, with the Mother Suspirium character appearing in the movie and he wanted to give a sense of craziness and the evil that’s at the core of the movie, this sort of power of the witches and we were just trying to put that into visuals. It was quite hard to read it and understand what Luca wanted. When you see the movie, we’re like; “oh right OK – so this is what we were making! It was very interesting.”

I’m sure there’s surprises for you, even when you’ve worked on the film. When you see the finished product, you’re still surprised by it.

Yeah, more so than most films that I’ve ever worked on. There’s three movies I did last year, I did Stan & Ollie and Bohemian Rhapsody and I did Suspiria at the same time and I think the most surprising one out of all them is Suspiria. We make these sequences and we make the stuff, I remember Fernanda the hair and make-up designer, who did most of the ‘straight’ make-up looks said to me – she’d worked with Luca on a few movies – and she said “we just have to trust Luca, we have to trust our director.” It’s an interesting comment that she made – you’re making all this crazy stuff, how’s it going to look? She said; “We just have to trust Luca, he’s a visionary” he’s got this idea and when you see the movie, you understand. This crazy end sequence – the tension builds throughout the movie and then it all goes pretty wild at the end.

That’s the exact experience I had watching it, because I was skeptical going in, with it being a remake. But, as soon as it started, I thought, of course, it’s Luca, just trust in that vision and he absolutely has this precise vision and I think he totally followed it through with this piece.

Yeah, I felt the same way about it, actually. When you see the movie, we were busy out there making stuff, while he was busy filming all the stuff that didn’t have prosthetics in it, we didn’t see any of the dance stuff, the drama and the development of the witches’ characters. We weren’t privy to any of the filming of that, we were busy making stuff. So it’s always a surprise when you see the film at the end, I’d read the script and the story obviously and had all the conversations with Luca, so I had a pretty good idea of how it was going to develop, but it’s still quite surprising. And I really enjoyed it, I thought it was great. It’s a long movie, it’s slow, the tension builds, it’s really creepy and that end sequence. There’s a couple of sequences – the Olga dance sequence really grabbed me and I’ve seen it three times now and the audience is completely silent after that bit. Everyone is watching it thinking “my God, this is what the witches are all about – this is the evil at the core of the movie.” And you know then it builds quite slowly to that crescendo at the end, which really grabs you.


We ran out of time there (I had at least three more questions)! But I loved the movie and Luca created something truly unique with his team of master craftspeople, including Mark.

We’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to talk to us!

 

 

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Jumpcut’s Favourites: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Year: 2014
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Léa Seydoux, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson.

WRITTEN BY COREY HUGHES

There are two rules in life that I have come to understand within my 21-years on Earth. Number one; don’t talk about Fight Club, and number two; never ask a cinephile what their favourite film is. By breaching the second rule, not only will you be met with a disapproving grunt, but also a 30-minute rant on which film is their favourite; taking into consideration how different moods influence their choice.

Yet I’ve never had this problem. I relish the opportunity to gush about my favourite film, expressing my adoration for it whilst simultaneously trying to make others love it as much as I do. The film I’m talking about here, of course, is Wes Anderson’s wonderful ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’.

Now, I believe there are two ways that you can approach this area of discussion. You can either talk about what you think is the best film, or explain the reasons why a particular film is your favourite, as, after all, your favourite doesn’t necessarily have to be good film. Yet, for me, my experience with ‘The Grand Budapest’ is a mixture of both.

There are a variety of reasons why I’d argue that ‘The Grand Budapest’ is a bona-fide masterpiece. The most obvious is Robert D. Yeoman’s delightful and completely mesmerising cinematography. Wes Anderson’s symmetrical framing and composition is in full effect here, but adding to that, Anderson and Yeoman’s choice to use three different aspect ratios for each of the three time periods in the film is nothing short of extraordinary, adding to the storytelling aesthetic that Anderson hoped to achieve.

Yeoman’s exquisite camerawork, especially the fluidity of the 90-degree and 180-degree whip-pan movements, is surpassed only by Wes Anderson’s trademark use of vibrant colour palettes; adding to the exoticness of the locations and buildings that Anderson has placed in the shop window.

Written with such extravagance by Anderson himself, ‘The Grand Budapest’ also boasts a tremendous cast, bringing back the usual suspects of Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson; accompanied by the terrific talents of Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton and Willem Dafoe.

Yet it is Ralph Fiennes as the legendary hotel concierge Gustave H. who steals the show. Played with such charisma, intelligence and total narcissism, Gustave is perhaps the most iconic and memorable character that Wes Anderson has to offer, a real compliment with Anderson’s catalogue of superbly written figures such as Max Fischer in ‘Rushmore’ and Royal Tenenbaum in ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’. Fiennes brings so much flair and humour to the role, bringing the audience and his lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori) on his remarkable journey filled with murder and conspiracy. We really shouldn’t sympathise with him, but somehow we do. He’s just a loveable asshole, really.

But above all its glitz and glamour, ‘The Grand Budapest’ earns its title as my favourite film for its huge influence on my life. It’s the main reason why I started to look at films in a different way, the reason why I was eager to study the medium in greater depth. It is essentially the reason why I started to review movies, which is something that I love doing.

And when it comes down to it, ‘The Grand Budapest’ is the film that springs to mind when the harsh realities of life become prevalent. As soon as I pop my copy of the Blu-ray in the player, everything exterior to my screen becomes irrelevant. The only thing that matters within that 99-minutes of runtime is my experience with Wes Anderson’s delightful masterpiece.

Isn’t that what films are for?

 

Netflix Highlights: March

April Fools’ Day has been and gone, but this is no joke. We take your Netflix viewing very seriously here at JumpCut UK, and that’s why we ask our resident Netflix expert Mark Blakeway to pinpoint the best films that the streaming service has to offer. Here’s what was added last month.


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I Love You Phillip Morris
Jim Carrey stars as Steven Russell, a policeman turned con-man, made famous for his multiple prison escapes in this “based on true events” dark comedy-drama. It’s an enjoyable mix of unfortunate circumstances made funny by the sheer bluntness of it all, and heartfelt certainty of Russell’s unequivocal love for Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). It’s quick-paced, funny, sharp and witty, and shows how much depth and range Carrey can truly achieve when pushed to do something different.


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The Ides Of March
An above-average political thriller starring George Clooney, Ryan Gosling and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Packed with solid performances, a decent script and some very dark moments, albeit not quite to the lengths of ‘House of Cards’, it is enough to satisfy anyone with a vague political interest. While it doesn’t do much to break the mold, the typical story of a good guy in a bad system trying to do right still holds value. Predictable, but interesting nonetheless.


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The Grand Budapest Hotel
A single performance by Ralph Fiennes is so good in this film, that it’s difficult to talk about anything else. Visually, it’s incredible. The typical dry wit you expect from Wes Anderson is there in abundance. It’s well-polished, finely composed, superbly acted and the dense script is executed perfectly. I’d go as far as saying it is my favourite Anderson film to date, and whether you’re already a fan of Anderson or not, I highly recommend this film. Here’s our review to persuade you further.


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Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This is such a slick movie. While it does ultimately end in a mess of CGI, what gets you to that point is an intriguing storyline with some incredibly detailed actions scenes. This effort is truly a credit to the superhero genre. Whether or not you buy the whole “timely social commentary” angle, there is something undeniably very real about this film – this is more evident in the first half than the second, but this paranoia infused action movie exceeded my expectations. Here’s our review to persuade you further.


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India’s Daughter
This is a powerful documentary showcased as part of the BBC Storyville series I keep harping on about. What spurred the making of this documentary, was the horrific gang rape that took place on a private bus in South Delhi, after which 23-year-old Jyoti Singh died from her injuries. The attack gained widespread visibility, with many major media outlets picking up the story, and the men were arrested for their crimes. The documentary takes a look at this particular case, and the wider attitudes towards women in India, piecing together news footage, protests and even an interview with one of the attackers. Released to mixed reactions, banned in India itself, it has been interpreted in many different ways by activists, politicians and friends close to Jyoti, but one thing you cannot deny is that the more people who know about these horrendous acts that take place, the quicker they can be stopped. That is only a good thing.


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The Lives Of Others
Winner of the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film, ‘The Lives of Others’ is a truly thought-provoking German drama. Set in a period of political uncertainty prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it follows a member of the secret police becoming increasingly engrossed by the individuals he is supposed to be spying on. The tension is gradually ramped up as our protagonist uncovers more and more details, but it remains restrained in its no-frills approach to film-making, leaning on the simplicity, performances and apparent authenticity of it all, creating an engrossing and somewhat relatable thriller.


The New Girlfriend

The New Girlfriend
The story of Claire (Anaïs Demoustier) and the widow of her best friend, David (Romain Duris). A friendship post-death is forged for reasons I’d rather not go into – the key component of the story was kept a surprise for me and I hope it remains a surprise for you. It tests your perceptions of gender, sexuality, grief, relationships and identity. It does not remain with a single theme, a single character or a single issue – this is a complicated film handled delicately, with great care and understanding. Suspenseful, ridiculous at times, but incredibly fun, this was one of my favourite films from 2015. Here’s Mark’s review to persuade you further.


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Wayne’s World
Admittedly, the adventures of Wayne and Garth aren’t for everyone, but they are for me. A timeless classic, the perfect rainy day viewing, filled with quotable scenes, impeccable comedic timing and a flare for the ridiculous. Starring a young Mike Myers, Dana Carvey and Rob Lowe among many others, this is your not-so-typical oddball comedy about a couple of rock and roll loving friends who just want to apply their passion for music and babes, and make the most of whatever comes their way. Unfortunately for them, others have a different view as to how that should play out, whether it’s a TV show or a concert, and it’s up to Wayne and Garth to find a way to do what they do best. Party on Wayne. Party on Garth. You’ll also find ‘Wayne’s World 2’ on there. Here’s our review of the original to persuade you further.


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Turbo Kid
‘Turbo Kid’ will be a delight to any one who was a fan of 80s action adventure films like ‘BMX Bandits’ and ‘Mad Max’, as it is a huge love letter to both of these. Set in the dystopian “future” of 1997, you follow the film’s hero with his customised NES power glove, paving the way for inventive gory kills on-screen (one particularly gruesome one involving a modified bike) all backed with a rocking 80s synth soundtrack. Theres so much to love about this movie from the scenery-chewing performance of Michael Ironside as the sadistic overlord Zeus, and Laurence Leboeuf who plays the love interest, Apple. It’s not often you get to see a film like this, and I loved every second of it. 

N.B. Mark roped in the help of his friend Gary Joyce to discuss ‘Turbo Kid’. Here’s our review to persuade you further.

The Oscars 2015: Winners & Losers

What a night! What a long night! From this side of the pond, watching The Academy Awards live was hard work, but ultimately a satisfying and worthwhile experience. The 87th annual awards show was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, but I have a feeling we may have witnessed his swansong appearance as the presenter of the show. Aside from a theatrical, energetic and rather funny opening gambit, Patrick Harris quickly sunk into an apparent depression, barely even cracking a smile (even at his own jokes).

On a positive note, we were treated to some truly great acceptance speeches, from Patricia Arquette’s rousing feminist speech, to Graham Moore’s emotionally charged display, culminating in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s modest show of gratitude. The highlight however, has to be John Legend and Common, with their powerful, moving rendition of their track ‘Glory’, which won the award for Best Song. The performance, swiftly followed by the award, drew tears and a standing ovation from the crowd, with the emotive connotations linking the song to the story of ‘Selma’ and Martin Luther King’s drive for racial equality.

All of the eight nominees in the Best Picture award managed to get their hands on at least one of the little, gold statuettes, but it was ‘Birdman’ who stole the show with wins in the major categories. ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ swept the board for design-oriented categories, whilst ‘Whiplash’ also enjoyed three victories. Richard Linklater will probably be the most disappointed, with many fans taking to social media to vent their anger and disbelief at The Academy’s oversight.

Here’s how the night unfolded:

Lupita Nyongo takes to the stage to present the award for Actor In A Supporting Role. This category was pretty much sewn up weeks ago, by J K Simmons for his role in ‘Whiplash’ and there were no surprises this time.

A quick-fire double for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ as they check in with the awards for Achievement In Costume Design, and Achievement In Hair & Make-Up. A lot of people saying ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ should have took the latter.

Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor present the award for Best Foreign Language Film to Polish flick ‘Ida’. Director Pawel Pawlikowski ignores the get-off-the-stage-now music and completes his rather long acceptance speech.

The award for Best Live Action Short goes to ‘The Phone Call’ whilst Best Documentary Short is given to ‘Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1’. More of those long acceptance speeches.

Sienna Miller and Captain America present the awards in the sound category. Sound Mixing goes to team ‘Whiplash’ and Sound Editing to ‘American Sniper’. I feel Sienna Miller may have rigged the votes on that one.

Last year’s winner of the Supporting Actor award, Jared Leto takes to the stage, head to toe in baby blue, to present the award for Actress In A Supporting Role. Another relatively predictable win as Patricia Arquette takes home the award, for her role in ‘Boyhood.

The award for Achievements In Visual Effects goes to ‘Interstellar’, rightly so. Disney’s ‘Feast’ scoops the award for Animated Short, whilst a stunning Zoe Saldana and Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock present the Oscar for Animated Feature Film to ‘Big Hero 6’.

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ makes it a hattrick of wins, taking the award for Achievements In Production Design. Swooping down to grab the award for Cinematography, with a strong indication that more are to follow, ‘Birdman’.

A big win for ‘Whiplash’, taking the award for Achievement In Film Editing, is preceded by the ever-emotional In Memoriam montage. A pair snubbed by The Academy this year, Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo step up to present the award for Documentary Feature to ‘Citizen Four’. This is all soon forgotten as John Legend and Common raise the roof with their performance of ‘Glory’, which takes the award for Best Song soon after. Common poetically describes Selma Bridge, “this bridge was built with hope, welded with compassion and elevated with love for all human beings”. A truly powerful performance and speech which is worth watching.

The last of the relatively minor categories, the award for Best Original Score goes to, you guessed it, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. Screenplay appreciation time, with ‘Birdman’ taking the award for Original Screenplay and ‘The Imitation Game’ writer, Graham Moore, recognised for his Adapted Screenplay.

Time for the big four. Richard Linklater took 12 years to create his epic ‘Boyhood’, but that counts for nothing apparently. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu steals the show again, taking the award for Best Director and claiming to be wearing Michael Keaton’s “tighty whiteys”.

No such surprises in the category of Best Actor In A Leading Role and Best Female In A Leading Role, with Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore picking up the awards we all knew they deserved. Last but by no means least, the big one, the award for Best Picture. Before the big night I had ‘Boyhood’ down to take this one, but as the night went on I think we all realised that it was, of course, going to be ‘Birdman’ and Inarritu who would scoop the number one prize.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

The Academy Awards 2015: Nominations

The moment we’ve all been waiting for. The nominations for this years Academy Awards were released earlier today, with ‘Birdman’ and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ leading the way with nine nominations apiece. J.J. Abrams, Alfonso Cuaron and Chris Pine announced the nominees for the 87th Annual Academy Awards, which will take place on the 22nd February. With just 38 days to go until the big night, discussion can now truly begin as to who the winners and losers will be at this years Oscars. To read more and see the full list of nominations click here.