Behind the scenes of Lord Voldemort make up

I was going to write another blog on double make ups but I thought it would be interesting to jump back into the world of Harry Potter again…and to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!

Way back on Harry Potter & the Philosophers Stone (14 years ago now!) I was working for Nick Dudman in the creatures department, The main job I was given on the first film was working on the Goblin bank sequence which turned out to be an incredible experience for myself and the rest of us.

Late on in the film schedule the producers had asked us to look at seeing if we could make Voldemort as a silicone prosthetic which obviously we jumped at the chance to produce such an iconic character.

Even though we filmed for just over two weeks for the sequence involving Voldemort killing Harry’s parents, the producers & director decided not to reveal Voldemort’s appearance on camera (which was a real shame as the make up we made looked as creepy as hell!)

4 years later we got the opportunity to redo him for the Goblet of Fire. Originally I wasn’t involved at all in the beginning on the character as I was full on with Mad Eye Moody but in between shooting I got to sculpt up some concept heads along with Mark Coulier & Julian Murray.

The producers wanted Voldemort’s nose to be removed to give him that snake like appearance and asked if it could be done practically, so even though we knew it was fairly impossible we went ahead and sculpted a version which of course they rejected! :)


As we got closer to shooting Voldemort I became more and more involved with the character, we tested and tested the various looks and vein work that was required for the make up on one of our crew members Dave. We realised that it would be fairly impossible to airbrush those vein patterns every day onto Ralph Fiennes head, arms & body so we devised a series of tattoo transfers to cover those areas.

In the photograph you can see the amount of vein tattoo’s that were made (which was a continuity nightmare!)

The only prosthetic appliances that were made were for Ralph’s eyebrows as he only shaved his head for the role. These ‘EyeBrow Blockers’ were made in gelatine.

The whole process took a little over 3 hours each day. We usually started with a fresh head shave to get rid of any stubble shadow, then we based out his head and body with Rice Paper Skin Illustrator (due to the amount of airbrushing we did at that stage we used fan extractors to remove all the fumes out of the room!) I would then apply one side of the eyebrow blockers and Mark Coulier would do the other. Then mark and myself would apply the transfer tattoo’s and paint and blend all the colours together. We used a camouflage cream called Veil which finally blended everything together.

I was only involved in the Goblet of Fire film for lord Voldemort as in the Order of the Phoenix I was applying Mad Eye Moody again which over lapped Voldemort’s days on set.

The Graveyard sequence took around 12 days to shoot and is still one of the best and most rewarding Prosthetic make ups I’ve ever been involved with, and such an iconic character to have worked on.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and my reminiscing…

Till next time :)


Making Up Doubles – Harry Potter part 1

I wanted to write a little about double makeups and specifically the doubles for MAD EYE MOODY in HARRY POTTER. Firstly the main reason for doing double characters is quite simple, if you’re doing stunts or wide shots then there’s no need to use the main character. And for something like Mad Eye Moody he was in prosthetics for around 60 days in the Goblet of Fire so if the double make up could take over for a few wider shots then it all helped with not needing to bring in Brendan Gleeson as much.

In fact the first time you see Mad Eye in the Goblet of Fire, it’s actually the double as it was shot at night outside in the rain and it was over his shoulder.

The process of making the prosthetics for the Mad Eye double is pretty much the same as the main Mad Eye, we lifecast the performer and sculpt the make up as close as possible, sometimes this can be quite hard as the performers features may be a lot different to the lead performer. But as we always say, if you notice the stunt makeup on camera then the camera is too close to begin with.

I’ve added below the images of both Brendan Gleeson and his Sculpt and Tony Wests’ Sculpt as the double.

The great thing about the Harry Potter films is that you get the chance to make these characters and it also gives newer people in the industry a chance to apply a double make up with the fear of doing things wrong (and if they do something wrong, then the camera won’t pick it up!) A lot of assistants who have worked on double makeups have now gone onto doing hero characters in films…

In the Prisoner of Azkaban, Myself and Barrie Gower made up the great stunt lady Kelly Dent for the character of Aunt Marge, Kelly did a lot of the flying shots and stunt wire rigs in that sequence while Pam Ferris did all the close up shots of her face and body expanding. Because this make up was a lot more involved that the usual wide shots, Nick Dudman wanted 2 people who were a more experienced due to the nature of the scenes and the amount of prosthetic & costume changes needed.

Kelly was an amazing trooper throughout those scenes…In fact I’ve worked with Kelly on numerous projects before and after the Harry Potter films…and in the next blog I’ll talk about kelly’s double makeups for the film Stardust were she was doubling for Michelle Pfeiffer as the character of Lamia…

See you next time!

Memories of Mad-Eye Moody and Harry Potter

Memories of Mad-Eye Moody and Harry Potter

As this is the first day of the new year it’s also my first blog. Thankfully no hangover to deal with ;-)

It’s interesting that tonight on ITV they are showing the network premiere of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and now I can look back on such an amazing 10 years (yes 10 years!!!) on this incredible franchise.

I wanted to talk a little about one of the main characters I did on the Potter films…Mad Eye Moody. When his character was first introduced in the Goblet of Fire I never realised it be a part of my life for the coming years, On the 3rd January 2004 Myself and Prosthetics Sculptor Barrie Gower began sculpting Mad Eye design concepts…6 months later we were still sculpting Make Up designs.

We went through numerous concept ideas before we locked down the character, and we started shooting the make up in july 2004.

Now dealing with a material (Plat Gel 10) that at the time wasn’t well known and was still in its infancy and having part of the makeup mechanical was a lot of work but we got through it. We shot with Brendan Gleeson (who I have to say is one of the loveliest people around!) for the following  9 months! (In fact we wrapped on Mad Eye Moody’s character on St Patricks day!!!)

What was great about this character was that I got to re-do it in the next Potter movie (The Order of the Phoenix) and at that time we had now worked out all the bugs in the material, so I got to resculpt it and re-jig the make up (hopefully just enough that people wouldn’t notice the difference)

2 films later we saw Mad Eye Moody one last time and sadly meet his demise at the hands of Death Eaters but it was such an amazing journey to have been on (I doubt something like this will ever happen again, but hey who knows, this is the film industry after all!!!) And a massive thank you to Nick Dudman for letting me ‘play’ with monsters and goblins on the Potter films…Oh and Lord Voldemort of course!…

Lord Voldemort

Lord Voldemort