"I was told I was never going to get in, because I was this rebel guy that did different things and didn't go through the process. I've been called by my union the worst thing that ever happened to the art of makeup. Not so much now, they finally had to accept me."
About This Interview
In his nearly two-hour Archive interview, Rick Baker talks about his desire to become a doctor when he grew up, and having an epiphany that the doctor he actually wanted to be was "Dr. Frankenstein," so he could make monsters. He describes his youthful interest in monster magazines and model kits and discusses producing his own 8mm version of Frankenstein. He talks about the influence of television in his formative years and how being in front of the "box" led him to his career path, discovering the world of make-up through the horror/ sci-fi television series of the 1960s and the "Million Dollar Movie" which ran classic films. He talks about his first professional job, when he was a teenager, at the (Art) Clokey Studios, where he was a puppet designer for the stop-motion animation series Davey and Goliath. He discusses writing a letter to his mentor, legendary make-up artist Dick Smith, who invited him to his house and showed him his make-up lab and taught him the tricks of the trade. He speaks about their continued association that culminated in Baker's assisting Smith on the feature film "The Exorcist." He talks about the Emmy-Award-winning work he did (with Stan Winston) on the landmark television movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, in which the lead character ages to 110 years old. He discusses how, due to the fact that he was not in the union, he was paired with Winston and how their collaboration was complicated due to their divergent techniques. He describes his memorable work on the Cantina sequence in the movie blockbuster "Star Wars." He speaks about his groundbreaking, Academy-Award winning work for "An American Werewolf in London," which featured werewolf metamorphosis sequences that did not rely on optical effects. Additionally, Baker discusses his work on Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video, the series Beauty and the Beast, and the feature film "Ed Wood," in which he transformed Martin Landau into Bela Lugosi. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on February 24, 2003 in Glendale, CA.