What wizardry is this? The magic of prosthetic makeup

Reports from the Ministry of Magic confirm that Neville Longbottom has been struck by a transfiguration spell.

Okay, the reports are actually from the Mail Online, and by Neville I mean the actor who plays him, Matthew Lewis. But the transfiguration bit is true.

As if by magic (geddit?) Lewis, who plays Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films, has transformed from an adorably goofy wizard into a rather handsome young actor.

Indeed, he left onlookers stupified when he appeared at the New York premiere of the final Harry Potter movie. Wearing a sharp suit and a cute smile, Lewis looked positively charming as he stepped out onto the red carpet with (very beautiful) girlfriend, Sinead Husband.

Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead HusbandMatthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband Matthew 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Matthew Lewis with girlfriend Sinead Husband at the New York premiere of the final Harry Potter film (image: momedia.kyte.tv)

So how, in Dumbledore’s name, does he look so bloody different? Well, according to the Mail Online, Lewis was given a bit of a makeover to become Neville. In order to look the part, not only was he made to wear yellow false teeth, but he also had to wear prosthetics behind his ears to make them stick out. Poor sod.

How bloomin cute: a young Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom (image: images.wikia.com)

And he isn’t the only person to have undergone a prosthetic makeover for a film. In addition to many other members of the HP cast (i.e. Voldemort, Mad Eye Moody et al.) countless actors have had their appearance altered dramatically to take on the role of a new character.

Par exemple, anyone remember a very crinkly Brad Pitt in the Curious Case of  Benjamin Button? Or Mike Myers’ numerous characters in Austin Powers? Or all those nutjob Orcs running around Mordor?

Hell, even Katie Price has had a pop at it. And no, I’m not talking about her cosmetic surgery, I’m referring to her appearance in Jordan Gets Even. Seriously, have a look. Amazing what a bit of slap can do, eh?

Fit. (image: http://www.theargonath.cc)
While it may seem a relatively new technique, prosthetic makeup has actually been around for several decades – most notably in horror films.

“Ever since Thomas Edison Studios produced the first Frankenstein film in 1910, movie makeup artists have been shaping the faces of Hollywood monsters,” writes Nick Thomas in his article about makeup pioneer Dick Smith.

“As one of the grand masters of this bizarre art, Dick Smith has thrilled audiences and inspired colleagues with his innovative makeup techniques for more than half a century.”

The article, written by Thomas for The Washington Post back in 2007, goes onto mention how Academy Award winning makeup artist Rick Baker named Dick Smith responsible for “the state of the art in prosthetic makeup today”.

LOOK AWAY! Dick Smith's exceptional prosthetic makeup skills spawned Regan from The Exorcist (image: dicksmithmake-up.com)

Smith, who initially intended on entering dentistry, first became interested in prosthetic makeup when he discovered an old theatrical makeup manual while studying at Yale in the 1940s (talk about doing a one-eighty! Though I guess he still went on to poke around people’s faces…)

By 1945, Smith was hired as the first staff makeup man at New York’s NBC studio. “Completely self-taught, Smith developed his own methods and experimented with new materials in the basement of his New York home,” explains Thomas.

“Using liquid foam latex, he fabricated remarkable special-effects makeup during the 1960s. After molding and baking the latex in pieces, Smith discovered that by gluing the overlapping segments to an actor’s face he could simulate skin with amazingly realistic results.”

Dick Smith also created Marlon Brando's aged look in The Godfather (image: swamppolitics.com)

Smith’s talent led him to produce work for a multitude of films, including titles like Little Big Man, where he changed Dustin Hoffman into a 121 year old, and The Godfather, where he aged Marlon Brando by 20 years.

“His hour and a quarter makeup was two layers of old-age stipple, some painted shadows and spots, hair gray and dark tooth enamel,” writes Smith on his website, describing how he transformed Marlon Brando into Don Corleone. “A denture device called “a plumper” padded his jowls. Then there were other makeup problems, mainly to do with blood and bullet hits.”

However, it’s the work he did for The Exorcist that Smith considers to be his biggest achievement to date (click here to see the range of chilling creations and test-looks he created for the film).

“Even when the characters were fantastically weird, I always tried to make them believable,” Smith told The Washington Post. “Actors have to feel like they are the person they are portraying. I think my work has helped many to achieve that.”

Visit Dick Smith’s official website at www.dicksmithmake-up.com to see all of his incredible work.

Dick Smith applying prosthetic make-up to Linda Blair, the actress that played posessed child Regan in The Exorcist (image: dicksmithmake-up.com)

To read Dick Smith’s full interview with The Washington Post, click here. And to see some seriously scary prosthetics, check out The Awesome Art of Horror.

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4 Comments

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  1. I came across your website as it was the No. 1 on Google Image Search for “sinead husband matthew lewis” as this is how I search google and I have not been disappointed and I use conjuntions too much and Wow … What a find!!

  2. I’m having a hard time believing the kid wore prosthetics making him appear in attractive. You can see images of the actor in his very recent years with horrid teeth.

    It sounds to me like this article is covering up his dental surgery to correct his crooked teeth. Not sure why dental repair would be embarrassing. But, that is certainly what this man had done.

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