'Norbit' nominated for Oscar for best makeup

February 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
It's no surprise that six-time Oscar winner Rick Baker is nominated for another Academy Award for best makeup. The surprise is what he and another artist are nominated for: one of the year's worst reviewed movies -- "Norbit." What magic makes a movie like that Oscar-worthy?Eddie Murphy took on multiple roles for "Norbit." It's another collaboration between makeup artist Rick Baker and the actor, giving Baker a surprising Oscar nomination.

"It's really not an Academy-friendly kind of movie, so I didn't really think I was going to get nominated, even though this 'Mr. Wong' makeup is the best makeup ever," said Baker.

In time lapse behind-the-scenes footage provided by Dreamworks, Eddie turns into Mr. Wong. Kazuhiro Tsuji helped create the character, which took more than three hours to apply to Murphy.

"Kaz is never happy. You know, he does these really great makeups, and he starts saying, 'It doesn't look good,' you know," said Baker. "But I'll tell you when I saw it, I was like, 'Yeah, this is really cool.'"

Tsuji came from Japan for what was to be a three-year stay with Baker's studios. It's been 12 years.

"[Rick] was like my hero. Always. He's a makeup god," said Tsuji.

From the more than a dozen prosthetic pieces for the face of an old Asian man to the silicone arm of a large bodied woman, the work on this film was made the old fashioned way, with silicone and color.

More and more movies rely on computer animation to create a character. Blending the two is okay, says Baker, as long as the makeup art isn't lost.

"I hope the day doesn't come where there isn't makeup on an actor," said Baker. "There's a real magic that happens when you have an actor in a makeup on a set, you know, and he looks at himself in a mirror and he sees this character that's completely different than he is. You feel like you're that character."

There is no doubt that these makeup artists are the most talented in the business. But if they win the Oscar for "Norbit" on Feb. 24, it will prove it.

You can find out if they win the Oscar on ABC7, your Oscars station, when the Academy Awards airs on Feb. 24.


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