Beloved movie makeup artist and Oscar winner Rick Baker will be retiring soon.
In an interview with 89.3 KPCC’s The Frame (via Slashfilm), Baker announced his upcoming exit from major work in the film industry and the auction of some of his various film creations from over the years. “I said the time is right, I am 64 years old, and the business is crazy right now,” Baker said.
“I like to do things right, and they wanted cheap and fast. That is not what I want to do,” he added. “[S]o I just decided it is basically time to get out. I would consider designing and consulting on something, but I don’t think I will have a huge working studio anymore.”
Baker teamed up with The Prop Store to auction off many of the notable works he has crafted over the years. That auction was held yesterday, May 29.
“The Prop Store guys come from a background of being like fan boys, and they have an appreciation for what this stuff is, and it wasn’t just about how much money they were going to get out of it,” Baker said. “I liked that, and they seemed like really decent people.”
After fully retiring from the business, Baker still said he had plans to stay active as an artist.
“I do all kind of crazy things. I paint, I sculpt, and I do digital models,” Baker said. “This part of my life now I am basically retiring from the film industry and looking forward to just doing what I want to do.”
Talk to any ardent film nerd, and they’ll more-than-likely know who Baker is, and probably will be a huge fan. The makeup artist has been working in the industry for decades and has had a hand in some of the most notable styling creations of cinematic history.
John Landis‘ An American Werewolf in London might be the artist’s most iconic work, with Baker receiving the first Best Makeup and Hairstyling (then just Best Makeup) Academy Award in 1982.
He would later go on to receive six more Oscars for Harry and the Hendersons (1988), Ed Wood (1995), The Nutty Professor (1997), Men in Black (1998), Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2001) and The Wolfman (2011).
Other notable Baker jobs include Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” music video, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake, Tropic Thunder (working on Robert Downey Jr., who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film), Batman Forever and second unit work on the first Star Wars. Baker also crafted animatronic apes for films such as Gorillas in the Mist and Disney’s Mighty Joe Young. His first major film was 1971’s creature feature Octoman, where he designed the Octoman suit with Doug Beswick.
Baker even received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.
Going past his most notable creations, just look at his intricate work on Jim Carrey as The Grinch, or all of Eddie Murphy‘s real-looking characters in The Nutty Professor. Even his various aliens in 2012’s Men in Black III ended up being some of the more memorable parts of that movie. His commitment to the craft and devotion to detail makes his work the standard in the business.
Baker’s impact on the world of film makeup is immeasurable, even as Hollywood has transitioned towards more CG-generated effects and motion capture performances. Trends in technology come and go, but with J.J. Abrams looking to be using plenty of practical makeup jobs in his upcoming Star Wars film to accompany the mo-cap, it doesn’t look like Baker’s impact will be going away anytime soon.
These are shoes that simply won’t be filled anytime soon – if at all. Hopefully, makeup fans will continue to study Baker’s work and forge their own careers in the industry. A world without intricate film makeup work is a far-scarier thought than any alien or zombie Baker could ever whip up.
The entire film-loving community owes a raised glass to Baker today in the wake of this news. Or a hairy handshake. I’m sure Baker would appreciate either.
Explore Baker’s legacy in the video below and share some of your favorite Rick Baker work in the comments.