Friday, May 14, 2010

More bits and pieces from the Jonah Hex set visit.

I went back through my notes and memories to pull up a few more items about the Jonah Hex movie:

* Makeup - Talking with the makeup artist he said that their major problem was Jonah Hex actually has parts missing from his face and with makeup you are adding things to the actor's face. They did the sketch work for the look of Jonah Hex, but every problem they solved created one or two more other problems. What they finally came up with included "a rig" that has tabs that pull the right side of his face backwards, dentures with wires that pull back his lips to create the hole in his cheek and then two layers of prosthetics to create the depression in his cheek.

With all of this on, however, Josh Brolin is unable to eat and since he can't get any suction (due to the hole) he can't even drink through a straw (or smoke. I would have loved to have seen smoke leaking out of his mouth during the film.), meaning that he went a whole day without eating.

Also, this rigging also meant that half of Josh's face was more or less paralyzed. Of course this impacted Brolin's ability to act so the makeup team had to go through a couple of versions to allow some mobility in order for Brolin to accomplish his job.

They did consider post production work to augment the makeup but since Jonah Hex appears in about 90% of the film the decision was made to forgo any post work and utilize the practical makeup to its full potential.

Regarding the right eye? They did play with pulling the eye down and exposing it but the decision was made leave the eye itself alone but use the makeup to create the illusion that the skin below the eye is drawn downward. By leaving Brolin's eye alone they not only kept his eyes from injury (the possibility of infection and damage was greatly increased, if not insured, by pulling back the eyelids) but also allowed Brolin to be able to have some emotion on the right side of his face. Josh also explained that he ended up drooling quite often because of the manipulation of his lips and mouth.

Probably the most interesting quote from the makeup artist was when I asked if the scarring was medically accurate for a burn from a heated tomahawk. The response? "You know, this is interesting. There is the tomahawk version to the face, which is part of the scarring, but there is something else that gives him the scar and in the process of trying to design this makeup one of the things that we did is that we went out and we bought a pork butt and we heated up the element that gives Jonah his scar and we burned into it. We studied that, we took casts from there and we duplicated that look into a prosthetic that Josh wears for some of the earlier scenes. So we tried to base everything in reality...when it comes to a fight sequence and any trauma that occurs to the characters." During the interview, when he said "tomahawk version" my mind was racing, because there is only one version of how Jonah Hex was scarred. After seeing the previews, I understand that he was referring to the branding iron that Turnbull uses on Hex. Re-reading the answer now, my interest revolves around the phrase "we duplicated that look into a prosthetic that Josh wears for some of the earlier scenes". Does this mean that there is additional scarring or damage inflicted upon Hex? Hmmmmm.

Burke, played by Michael Fassbender, is covered in tattoos via a backstory of that he was stranded on a Polynesian island while he was being transported to a "prison island" (Australia?). The tattoos were all transfer tats.

They also gave John Malkovich a prosthetic nose that was patterned after another actor (unnamed, of course) that has a scar running down the middle of his nose. The scar is not explained in the film or even has a reason other than to add visually to the character.

Every character also has dentures in order to have a period look to their teeth. Did Megan Fox get these as well? Nobody asked, but I would venture "No."

* Weapons - We spoke with the 2nd assistant prop master (missed his name, sorry) and the partial list of damage inflicting hardware includes Jonah carrying:

Horse mounted Gatling guns
.45 single action Army
Remington conversion Civil War cap and ball (converted from cap and ball to cartridge)
Two old .45 caliber cap and ball Dragoons
A 1866 Yellow Blade Winchester 44-40
1873 Winchester

What does Turnbull tote around (other than the branding iron)?
A LeMat, a French revolver, with a nine shot cylinder with the equivalent of a 410 shotgun barrel below the regular barrel so you get nine pistol shots and then a shotgun blast. It's the same type of weapon that Jeb Stuart carried. You can get a nice reproduction from Regalos Line dancing and Western Store in the UK (from whence I stole this photo) for only 82 pounds.

They did include weapons from the Civil War up to the mid 1870's for this film.

* Bits and pieces that I missed in my earlier post - We did see several extras during the shoot. Several of these were period re-enactors who brought all of their own equipment and also helped the prop people in locating various items for use in the film. One extra that I saw was actually wearing armor that consisted of 2 in square pieces of steel tied together with rawhide strips and hung over him like a poncho. Not sure effective that would be, but it might be better than nothing.

In addition to climbing all over the large version of the CSS Virginia (aka ex-USS Merrimack) we also were given a tour of the Monitor-type iron clad. While the Virginia-type was in dry dock, the "Monitor" was actually built on a stripped down boat and would tool around the swamp area. The turret was incapable of movement since that held not only the wheelhouse be several pieces of film equipment as well. During the filming the boat was taken out and used in an assault on the dry docked iron-clad.

A few times we were warned to be on the lookout for gators that often wandered ashore during the production. I didn't spot any however.

One thing that struck me was the lighting. We were (as far as I knew) in the middle of nowhere, actually we were a few hundred yards from some houses and shrimp boats down the road, in the middle of the night and everything had that weird soft blue night-time glowy thing going that you see in the movies. This was due to huge lighting rigs that were either set up or suspended from cranes so everyone could see what they were doing during the shoot. There were similar lights set up in the woods across the water to give definition and outline to the to treeline and the shore. When they were shooting they would turn off different sets of lights to get the night sky behind the characters.

Finally, what scene did we see filmed? Quentin Turnbull is on the large dry docked vessel and he is giving a speech to his men, rallying them into a wild vengeful frenzy. The Union ship cruises in and flares, or some sort of airborne weaponry is launched against Turnbull. We also saw Jonah Hex poke his head over a fence and give a few lines. As far as "acting"? Nothing sounded or looked incredibly dramatic. I guess it really is all in the editing (according to my Eldest).


Sea-of-Green said...

Wow. Loving your commentary here on behing-the-scenes. This is so cool!

But ... Jonah's face in the movie is modeled on a PORK BUTT?


Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

I wasn't about to call Josh Brolin Butt-Face.

SallyP said...

It really does sound as though the make-up people put a lot of thought and effort into the effects. Pork butt makes sense, since it is the closest thing to human flesh around.

Your behind-the-scenes commentary continues to enthrall!

Susan said...

RE Brolin's difficulties when wearing the makeup: Well, this certainly answers a lot of questions brought up over the years as to how Jonah eats/drinks/smokes with a big friggin' hole in his face. It's just as hard as I've always imagined.