How Did They Do That? Best Movie Makeup Effects

Long before computer-generated imagery and other digital special effects editing existed to bring creatures like Gollum to life in The Lord of the Rings, Hollywood relied on special effects makeup artists to transform an actor’s appearance. While the industry no longer depends solely on movie makeup to create its creatures, the tricks of the trade are well preserved on film.

These five best examples of movie makeup effects are incredible – the new and the old.


5.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a Young Bruce Willis (2012)

movie makeup joseph gordon-levitt

hollywood reporter

While many makeup special effects artists are enlisted to transform actors into fantastical creatures and characters, there’s something to be said for artists capable of more subtle transformations. In the time-travel film LooperJoseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis share the character of Joe/Old Joe, with Gordon-Levitt playing the younger version.

Rather than rely on the audience’s suspension of disbelief to accept Willis as a younger version of himself, Gordon-Levitt enlisted the help of makeup artists Jamie Kelman and Kazu Tsuji for the transformation. With the aid of nose, lip, ear prosthetics, plus a little help with the hairline and eye color, Gordon-Levitt became a believable Bruce Willis lookalike.

The creation of the movie makeup was created by Kazuhiro Tsuji, who has also worked on The Grinch and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He initially turned down the job but after Rian Johnson persisted, he of course accepted.