Thu
Feb 7 2013 6:00pm
Remembering Stuart Freeborn

Legendary movie makeup artist Stuart Freeborn passed away this week at the age of 98. Famously known for crafting the actual Yoda puppet and the Chewbacca suit for the classic Star Wars films, Freeborn also created the impressive proto-human apes for the “Dawn of Man” sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Born in 1914 in London, Freeborn’s early makeup work included a brush with Alec Guinness on David Lean’s Oliver Twist. Soon after, he transformed Peter Sellers into an array of different characters in Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, leading to his work on 2001.

The true brilliance of Freeborn’s makeup work is we rarely notice immediately. His craftsmanship was grounded in reality (he modeled Yoda after Albert Einstein) meaning it seems as though what we’re seeing is real. The reaction for most of us to Freeborn’s work isn’t “what great ape makeup,” but instead, “how did they get those apes to do that!?” Though he lived a full life, his vibrant contributions to our collective imaginations will be missed. Thank you, Stuart.

[News via The Guardian]

3 comments
Emmet O'Brien
1. EmmetAOBrien
I hadn't realised until reading the obituary that Stuart Freeborn also did Roger Livesey's aging makeup in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, which with Livesey's brilliant body language and general acting is still the most convincing I've ever seen an actor age decades on the screen.
Mike Conley
2. NomadUK
As I recall (perhaps imperfectly), Freeborn's makeup work on 2001: A Space Odyssey lost out on an Oscar to Planet of the Apes, on the grounds that his work in Kubrick's film was too good and the judges thought they were real. Seems apocryphal, but, then, I've never been much impressed with Oscar judging.
AlanMorlock
3. AlanMorlock
2001 A Space Odyssey didn't lose to Planet of the Apes as there was no award to lose per se. Planet of the Apes was honored with a special one off award at the time. The annual makeup award was not added until later.

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