Makeup effects artist and seven-time Academy Award-winner Rick Baker has had a remarkable career with a list of credits which merely begins with The Exorcist, An American Werewolf in London, Harry and the Hendersons, Wolf, Ed Wood, Men in Black, Guillermo del Toro‘s original Hellboy, and Maleficent. That professional life is now tracked, and celebrated, in the J.W. Rinzler-written, two-volume Metamorphosis (out Oct. 22), which includes 1,600 color images and original sketches as well as an introduction by its subject, a foreword by John Landis, a preface by Peter Jackson, and an afterword by Baker’s mentor, the late Dick Smith.
Check out an, occasionally, gruesome sneak peek at Metamorphosis, below.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Griffin Dunne in his Stage One Jack makeup
Rick Baker won the inaugural Academy Award for Best Makeup with his work on John Landis’ classic horror-comedy, An American Werewolf in London. Those toils included overseeing the transformation of David Naughton’s character David into a lycanthrope and turning Griffin Dunne‘s Jack into a decomposing, if still chatty, corpse.
“I’d have to get up and sit in the chair at four o’clock in the morning,” Dunne is quoted as saying in Metamorphosis. “It was a realistic depiction of how I would look if I was dead and rotting, which is interesting as an audience member, but when you’re looking at your own mortality it affects your mood.”
Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
Kevin Peter Hall as Harry
Baker won his second Oscar for creating the titular creature in the fantasy-comedy Harry and the Hendersons. “You could release Harry today and people would totally accept it,” the makeup artist said in 2016. “Harry carries the movie and carries it in a nonverbal way. I just like his design, I like the execution of it, and I like the performance that we got. There’s very little improvement I could make on what I did on Harry, and that’s why I consider it one of my favorite creations.”
Coming to America (1988)
Baker making up actor Eddie Murphy as the character Saul
Eddie Murphy was, literally, unrecognizable after Baker made him up to look like an old Jewish man named Saul in the comedy Coming to America. “He got in a golf cart, took off in Paramount Studios and went into every office where he knew all these people to see if they would recognize him,” Baker says in Metamorphosis. “Nobody did. He even made a date with an older secretary and tried to sell a script to some producer he knew.”
Baker laying more hair on Jack Nicholson’s wolf hand, on set
The makeup artist returned to the werewolf genre to transform Jack Nicholson in the Mike Nichols-directed Wolf. “It was mostly about gluing hair,” says Baker in Metamorphosis. “I’m good at laying hair directly one someone’s face and working with hair, which is a lost art…I wanted to design a werewolf that was recognizably Jack, but wolflike and strangely attractive, yet capable of inflicting serious damage to whoever got in his way.”
Men in Black (1997)
Vincent D’Onofrio in his Edgar bug makeup, last stage, when bug hairs start to grow out of his face
Baker’s mission to turn Men in Black actor Vincent D’Onofrio into an alien bug creature was assisted by the fact that the star had gained a large amount of weight for his role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film Full Metal Jacket, and then lost it once the shoot ended.
“His skin never came back as tight,” says the makeup artist in Metamorphosis. “He had this incredibly loose skin. It was great. You could stretch his skin really far. It was real supple. And Vincent was fine letting me pull his face all over the place into weird positions.”
Baker’s first photoshopped painting of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
In Metamorphosis, Baker admits he was “frightened” to take on the task of transforming Angelina Jolie into the title role in Maleficent.
“Angie wanted cheekbones with edges right in the middle of her face,” says Baker. “Putting on small appliances on that alabaster skin and not having the edges show would be very difficult. And, again, it’s harsh to wear these appliances every day. And, lastly, I didn’t want to be the person responsible for screwing up one of the world’s most beautiful faces.”