It’s been 67 years since the Wolfman first attacked the box office, but he’ll be making a comeback next year in a remake by Joe Johnston (Hidalgo, Jurassic Park III). Fortunately for all you lycanthrope fans out there who just can’t wait that long, EW caught up with the horror flick’s makeup artist, six-time Oscar winner Rick Baker, for an exclusive First Look at how he’s transformed star Benicio Del Toro into the famed beastly creature.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How many different components go into putting the face of the Wolfman together?
RICK BAKER: The part that covers his nose and his brow is what we call an appliance. It’s made up of a foam, latex piece with tissue-thin edges that covers part of Benicio’s face and blends into his own skin. Then we have a wig and dentures that change his teeth into the giant Wolfman teeth. Most of the hair on his face is what we call ”laid.” It’s actually loose hair that we apply little bits at a time with glue to his face. It’s very much the way the Wolfman was done in the  original [starring Lon Chaney].
How long does it take to apply all of this makeup?
Typically about three hours — it’s a pretty average time. I’ve done makeup that’s taken close to eight hours before, though.
How much use can you get out of the appliance, dentures, and hair? Do you have to use new sets for each day of shooting?
It’s mainly new latex pieces and new facial hair that’s reapplied every day. The teeth are the same and the wig is the same, but we have several of those because they tend to get screwed up. The adhesives we use now stay on pretty well. Many times it takes about an hour to remove the makeup. In the old days, back when we used to use spirit gum, at the end of the day you could just kind of pull the stuff off and not harm the person’s skin, but now you can’t do that — you’ll pull skin off.
Benicio Del Toro already has some wolf-like features — does that make it easier or harder for you?
In a way, it almost makes it harder. Where do you go from there? He’s practically there as it is! [Laughs] I think what’s going to make it be harder is when we get into the transformation scenes; going from Benicio to Benicio as the Wolfman isn’t a really extreme difference. Like when I did American Werewolf in London, we went from this naked man to a four-legged hound from hell, and we had a lot of room to go from the transformation and do a lot of really extreme things. Here we have Benicio Del Toro, who’s practically the Wolfman already, to Benicio Del Toro with more hair and bigger teeth.
What was everyone’s reaction on set the first time he came out in makeup?
People seem to be getting really excited about it. These pictures are the first time we put him in makeup, and this was just last week!
NEXT PAGE: Another pic of Benicio Del Toro as the Wolfman, and Rick Baker on how this job stacks up against the others on his résumé
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can fans of The Wolfman look forward to the most?
RICK BAKER: You never know how the movie’s going to be, but from what we’ve done so far, which, mind you, hasn’t been very much, what I would say to fans is that at least you know that the guy who’s doing the makeup in the movie is coming from the same place they are — as a fan. I have a real appreciation for the old Universal classics. The old fanboy in me is jumping up and down here!
How much did you update the makeup from the original?
It’s actually more frightening. But I still wanted to be true to the original and show respect for it. What’s interesting about those two pictures is that there’s one that he’s kind of facing forward and you see a little more of his body — that’s very much more of a classic Wolfman shot; it looks more like the Chaney version. The close-up one is a more frightening and dynamic version. Even though it’s the same makeup [as the first picture], he can do a lot more than Lon Chaney could do with the makeup. It’s cool that there’s something for the old-school guys, and the other picture is more for the guys who don’t even know what the Wolfman is but can see that picture and still go, ”Oh, that’s cool!”
How does Wolfman rank next to the rest of the films on your extensive résumé?
It’s funny: I’ve been very successful and done a lot of films, and I don’t really have an agent — I don’t really pursue jobs, I let people come to me. I’m not really listed anywhere; I don’t know how people find me! It’s easier now that I’m more established, but in the earlier days when I first started out, it’s actually amazing that I was successful. But with this film, when I first found out they were going to do it, I went and talked to somebody I know at Universal. I said, ”You know what? I have to do The Wolfman! You’ve got to let me do this! I’ll do some really cool stuff.” The Wolfman and Frankenstein were probably the two most important films in my childhood that made me want to become a makeup artist. I pursued this job. Fortunately they said okay! It’s been really fun. We’ve been filming at night, and were filming in this gypsy camp. It was like being in an old Universal film. We were in this forest with these cool gypsy wagons and these gypsies sitting all around, and people on horseback, and fog — I was just going, Yeah! The Wolfman!
How hard has this project been to work on compared to your others?
The ones that are harder are actually the ones that people tend to think are easier. The harder ones are really the human kind of makeup. Like Norbit, which I was nominated for this year [at the Oscars]: I had to turn Eddie Murphy into a believable old Chinese man, which is actually a lot more difficult, because people are more critical of that kind of makeup — because you see [humans] every day. So you have kind of a frame of reference of what you are looking at. You don’t necessarily see werewolves or aliens every day, so you can accept those kinds of things.