Challenge: Persuade Frank Langella to use wig and makeup in his Nixon transformation
“Finding a happy middle ground was probably one of the most difficult things,” says star Frank Langella’s makeup artist, David Anderson. “Frank wasn’t interested in wearing any augmentation. He performed the play with just the wig, and Ron Howard had a different opinion.”
Anderson made five stages of noses that ranged from a stage-one Langella nose up to a stage-five Nixon nose. Ultimately everyone picked the fourth-stage nose. “Once Frank saw it on his face and my ability to make it disappear to the naked eye, he actually embraced it that night and was very surprised.”
Anderson says that his original conceptual art was pretty heavy-handed, “but Frank was the master of subtlety and really helped me a lot.”
Colleen Callaghan, who did Langella’s hair, also praises the actor’s instincts: “Ron called and said, ‘You’ve got to come and help us out. Frank refuses to be seen in any of the wigs that we made for him.'”
Callaghan actually agreed with Langella, going back and making adjustments to the wig’s fit, hairline, wave pattern and grayness — minor changes that made a huge difference. “Every little detail was important,” she says.