updated: 17/07/2008

mutants: Mystique

Big screen adaptations of the classic comic books about a band of unique power-possesing mutants who live in a world where their kind is hated and persecuted by humans. Under the guidance of their leader, Professor Charles Xavier, the X-men strive for a world where humans and mutants can peacefully co-exist.

But not all mutants are good mutants: some including the blue shape-shifting Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) are out for revenge. The superheroes must also combat those radical mutants with intentions of exterminating human the race.

For the first movie Rebecca’s eight to nine hour makeup ordeal involving nearly 100 individual prosthetics covering some 60% of her body, plus blue bodypaint on the rest and uncomfortable contact lenses probably set some sort of record: if not for the makeup itself then for the first time a character has worn nothing but prosthetics for a movie role. But, despite the makeup, she signed up for both the sequels but then they did manage to simplify – and improve – the makeup and replace the contact lenses with post-production CGI: ‘On the first one it took 8 or 9 hours a day to apply, and on this it took 5 or 6 hours.’

Unsurprisingly, the makeup in almost all her interviewson the movies:

It’s not easy having five women constantly in your personal space. You have tremendous mood swings. You go from being perfectly happy and having a nice time to being evil bitch woman.

The most challenging part is the makeup because it’s just such a fragile costume. It’s literally disintegrating as soon as it’s finished so they are constantly touching you up. If you have an hour till the next setup you have to go back to your trailer and decide do I want to lie down, take a nap and have to endure another half hour of touching up or do I want to just sit here like a stone.

It was about as comfortable as not wearing clothes, which is pretty comfortable. It is actually not just paint. It is about 100 different individual prosthetics made out of silicone. It is like a rubbery texture. Some pieces were thicker than others to add a little extra support, if you know what I mean. It took six hours on this film [X-Men 2], which is better than the first film, which took nine hours. I had a midnight call time but this time it was a two in the morning call time.

I’m dreading the makeup part [X-Men 3], but nothing else. I’m so happy to be a part of that franchise, and I love those people. It’s a really exciting thing to be a part of.

Gordon J Smith was responsible for creating Mystique’s makeup, using self-sticking silicone prosthetics, and for redesigning it for the second movie. On X-Men Ann Brodie was chief makeup artist and Jay McClennen was key prosthetics. On X-Men 2 Norma Hill-Patton was makeup designer; Rita Ciccozzi was head makeup artist; Jay McClennen and Ann McLaren were key prosthetic artists. Mike Elizalde (Spectral Motion) took over for the third movie. If anyone can clarify the credits for Mystique’s makeup, please email me.