Check out our exclusive interview with Michael “Mike” Marino, who worked as a make-up artist and prosthetist on The Batman, and reveals the secrets of how Colin Farrell’s Penguin is made.
Here’s our exclusive interview with Michael Marino, the prosthetic makeup designer for The Batman, The Dark Knight’s new adventure starring Robert Pattinson.
HelloCine: When you found yourself faced with the challenge of having to visually bring the Penguin from the Batman universe to life, what was your first reaction and the first design steps?
Michael Marin : First and foremost, I’ve been a big Penguin fan ever since he 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 the films of Matt Reeves, from Cloverfield to Planet of the Apes, so I was totally ready to make a Batman with him.
For the Penguin, I wanted the quality of the comics to translate to the makeup, and not just fatten it up with the addition of a fake nose. I wanted to personify him, which suited the realistic world in which [The Batman] takes place. To place this whimsical character in this realistic world, I took the risk of growing it up a bit and adding a comic book touch.
I also based myself on the suggestions of Matt, who told me about Bob Hoskins and John Cazale, who plays Fredo in The Godfather… like a flavor of Tony Soprano with that of the old school gangsters of the 40s. (… ) I mixed it all up and got what you see. This is my favorite method for applying makeup.
You mentioned Meredith’s version, there had already been several incarnations of the Penguin on screen, did you draw inspiration from them or did you ignore them?
I wouldn’t say I ignored them, but I didn’t use them as direct references. I like what Stan Winston [légende du maquillage et des effets spéciaux, NdlR] did to make up Danny DeVito [dans Batman, le défi]. Obviously it’s in the pantheon of our film culture, but I couldn’t do that again, it wasn’t the same world anymore. And Burgess Meredith’s version was a little too comedic for our tone.
I believe there’s also a show called Gotham in which the Penguin has a pointy nose, but that wasn’t our benchmark either. (…) I wanted to bring my personal touch based on my knowledge of the comics, the character, his face and his life (…).
You and your team created prostheses for the character’s face, how did that go?
Originally, my concept sculpt was of Colin Farrell’s face with his eyes open and his mouth slightly open. Colin is very good at following instructions. Then I transformed this concept sculpture into a clay sculpture. I put a bow tie and a monocle on it, then sculpted his hair like he was going to be bald, added smallpox marks to his cheeks and a dirty scar across his face. It 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 chin, cheeks, nose, upper lip, forehead, eyebrows and swollen eyelid as well as a partial wig intermingling with 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 them to Matt and production and Colin was completely overwhelmed. I believe it really worked. My first sculpture is the one we used in the film. Everything was Platinum silicone and syntactic polyepoxy matrices with a removable neck.
Why did you add false teeth to the Penguin?
I 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, one side has a scar, a swollen eyelid and the tooth… all on the same side, even his nose, also scarred and a little broken.
I thought it was interesting not to put these things on just because they’re cool, but also to add a story to the makeup. He has a gold tooth because he’s a gangster who wants to show off. He does not hide his tooth, he displays that he is a gangster, 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 eventually managed to cut it down to two hours.
What was Colin Farrell doing all that makeup time?
He sat with great patience while all this was stuck to him. And once he wore the makeup, he immediately picked up the voice [du personnage, un accent italo-américain]. Claire Flewin also built him his undersuit, which he wore under his clothes.
Once he had all that, he was completely free, becoming a different person, a different character with a strange gait, a new voice, waddling around like a penguin. It was very, very cool.
Our interview with Matt Reeves on his vision of Batman: