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]