Check out our exclusive interview with Michael “Mike” Marino, who worked as a makeup artist and prosthetist on The Batman, and reveals the secrets behind how Colin Farrell’s Penguin is made.
Here’s our exclusive interview with Michael Marino, the prosthetic makeup designer for The Batman, the new Dark Knight adventure starring Robert Pattinson.
Hello Cinema: When you were faced with the challenge of visually bringing the Penguin from the Batman universe to life, what was your first reaction and first design steps?
miguel marine : First of all, I have been a huge Penguin fan ever since she appeared as Burgess Meredith in the 1966 Batman TV series. I really like the series and the comics, which I collect. (…) I also really like Matt Reeves movies, from Cloverfield to Planet of the Apes, so I was totally prepared to do a Batman with him.
For the Penguin, I wanted the comic book quality to carry over into the makeup, and not just fatten it up with the addition of a fake nose. He wanted to personify it, which fit with the realistic world in which [The Batman] it develops. To fit this whimsical character into this realistic world, I took the risk of growing him up a bit and adding a comic book twist.
I also drew on suggestions from Matt, who told me about Bob Hoskins and John Cazale, who plays Fredo in The Godfather… like a taste of Tony Soprano with that of old school 1940s gangsters. ( … ) I mixed it all up and got what you see. This is my favorite method of applying makeup.
You mentioned the Meredith version, several incarnations of the Penguin had already appeared on screen, were you inspired by them or ignored them?
I wouldn’t say I ignored them, but I didn’t use them as direct references. I like the Stan Winston thing [légende du maquillage et des effets spéciaux, NdlR] did to compensate Danny DeVito [dans Batman, le défi]. It’s obviously in the pantheon of our film culture, but I couldn’t do it again, it wasn’t the same world anymore. And Burgess Meredith’s version was too funny for our tone.
I think there’s also a show called Gotham where the Penguin has a pointy nose, but that wasn’t our reference either. (…) I wanted to contribute my personal touch based on my knowledge of the comics, the character, his face and his life (…).
You and your team created prosthetics for the character’s face, how did it go?
Originally my concept sculpture was done on Colin Farrell’s face with his eyes wide open and his mouth slightly open. Colin is very good at following directions. I then transformed this sculpture concept into a clay sculpture. I put a bow tie and monocle on him, then sculpted his hair like he was going bald, added pockmarks to his cheeks and a dirty scar to his face. He was supposed to be a gangster, so we stuck to the theme of the movie.
We designed the pieces themselves: a neck connected to a puffy chin, cheeks, nose, upper lip, forehead, eyebrows, and eyelid, as well as a partial wig that intermingles with the hair. [de Colin Farrell].
The team consisted of Mike Fontaine for textures and makeup details, Izzi Galindo for eyebrows, and Sasha Camacho Van-Dyke for hair. We have tested everything successfully. We introduced Matt and the production and Colin was completely overwhelmed. I think it really worked. My first sculpture is the one we used in the movie. Everything was Platinum silicone and syntactic polyepoxy matrices with removable neck.
Why did you add false teeth to Penguin?
He wanted that on the side of his scar, something had happened to one of his teeth, as if a fight had damaged them following the scar. (…) If you look at his face, on one side he has a scar, a swollen eyelid and a tooth… all on the same side, even his nose, also scarred and a little broken.
I thought it was interesting not to wear these things just because they’re cool, but also to add a story to the makeup. He has a gold tooth because he is a mobster who wants to show off. He does not hide his teeth, he shows that he is a mobster, a mackerel, that he has money and that he appreciates gold.
How long did Colin Farrell’s transformation into Penguin take?
The initial test took four hours and we finally managed to get it down to two hours.
What was Colin Farrell doing all that makeup time?
He sat patiently as all this rubbed off on him. And once she put on her makeup, she immediately picked up the voice. [du personnage, un accent italo-américain]. Claire Flewin also built her undersuit, which she wore under her clothes.
Once he had all that, he was completely free, becoming a different person, a different character with a strange walk, a new voice, walking like a penguin. She was very, very cool.
Our interview with Matt Reeves about his vision for Batman: