Makeup extraordinaire and visual effects legend Rick Baker has announced his retirement. He is known for his work on Star Wars, An American Werewolf In London, Videodrome, Harry and the Hendersons, Coming to America, The Rocketeer, Ed Wood, Batman Forever, The Nutty Professor, The Frighteners, Men In Black, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Planet of the Apes, Tropic Thunder, Tron: Legacy, Maleficent, and many more.
But it is the reason why the makeup artists is retiring that is the most interesting thing. More on the story below.
In an interview with KPCC, Baker revealed the reason why he was retiring:
“I said the time is right, I am 64 years old, and the business is crazy right now. I like to do things right, and they wanted cheap and fast. That is not what I want to do, so I just decided it is basically time to get out.”
He also said:
“First of all, the CG stuff definitely took away the animatronics part of what I do. It’s also starting to take away the makeup part. That is not what I want to do, so 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.”
What Baker said isn’t too far off from what is being seen in films. Studios obviously favor the cheaper digital alternative over the more tedious, costly, and time-consuming makeup process. In fact the last major makeup project that he worked on was Maleficent, and that was also scrubbed down with CGI. The aforementioned films are just a testament to his works, and to see it all be traded off for a much cheaper CGI only shows that makeup artists aren’t needed any more.
Aside from the aforementioned films, Baker also famously worked on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video.
Here’s what he had to say about how the industry is tending to favor computer generated makeup over traditional makeup:
“I did ‘Men in Black 3’, which was good for that, but the last film I did was ‘Maleficent’ and I could’ve done that in a garage basically.”
However, Baker isn’t officially done, and says that he will continue to do the work that he loves on his own terms.