×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How Zachary Quinto Transformed Into a 135-Year-Old for ‘NOS4A2’

Much of an actor’s job is to convey a character’s inner emotional truth. That can prove complicated when the character requires layers of prosthetics and specialized makeup to come to life. Such was the challenge for Zachary Quinto, who portrays Charlie Manx in AMC’s “NOS4A2,” an adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel about a supernatural being who feeds on the souls of children to replenish his youth. But Quinto had the aid of special makeup designer Joel Harlow, with whom he had collaborated on the “Star Trek” films.

“There are five phases of [Manx’s] aging process,” Quinto says. “We isolated what each of those phases would be, so I was able to adopt specific physical characteristics that would correlate with each one and become progressively more grotesque and decrepit.”

The youngest version of Manx was close to Quinto’s actual age and therefore represented a more real-life look; the oldest was a 135-year-old who was “incredibly closed in, hunched over, really warped,” notes Quinto. In between, the character was depicted at ages 65, 80 and 100.

Harlow says that while extreme elements might be needed for some of the looks, generally “we’re trying to portray realism — otherwise he would just stand out too much.” The makeup artist says Manx is at first trying to charm people: “If he looks like a monster from the beginning, that doesn’t really work.”

To create each version of Manx, Harlow and his team made casts of Quinto, sculpting each stage simultaneously so they could “gauge how much you’re adding to each sculpture.” Once a sculpture was finished, it was broken down into key pieces, including the cheeks, nose, neck, forehead, ears and even hands, with molds fashioned to generate silicone prosthetics.

“Most of the silicone appliances overlap each other in a very specific way so that when you’re finished gluing everything on, it’s a matter of painting and adding contact lenses. The makeup technique is very similar throughout all of the stages,” Harlow explains. “It’s just that the sculptures are different.”

Quinto would shave his face and head at home before arriving to set. Once he got in Harlow’s chair, his skin would be cleaned before they began gluing on the pieces, starting from the neck. “Then you tie it all together with paint, both airbrush and traditional-brush makeup, glue the wig on — and at that point you’re pretty much off to the races,” Harlow says.

The 135-year-old version of Manx allowed Harlow the most creativity because there are no references to real-life people that old. He took some liberties, differing from Hill’s description of the character — most notably by giving Manx hair to offer “a clearer visual representation of his age.”

However, a few elements were plucked directly from the source material: “His teeth are deteriorated, yellowed and broken, as are his fingernails, and they get progressively more so over time,” Harlow says.

In the end, the different stages of Manx’s appearance greatly informed Quinto’s performance.

“I think it’s really important to understand from a psychological perspective … the horrific nature of the trauma he experienced as a child,” says the actor. “If we as human beings don’t deal with trauma … and emotional wounds don’t get healed, they live in places in our bodies. So the oldest versions of Manx are these incredibly twisted and decrepit, locked-in expressions of what he didn’t face and what he didn’t process in his younger life. And he’s always reaching for something outside of himself because he never was able to cultivate a sense of contentment or a sense of fulfillment from within.”

More Artisans

  • Motherless Brooklyn BTS Edward Norton

    Edward Norton Hails His 'Motherless Brooklyn' Crew for Their 'Career-Best' Work

    Edward Norton wrote, directed, produced and stars in Warner Bros.’ “Motherless Brooklyn,” but he’s quick to give credit to his behind-the-camera collaborators. Norton told Variety: “I think this is career-best work for some of these people.” The film is set in 1950s New York, and the team accomplished a lot on a budget of $26 million [...]

  • American Society of Cinematographers Honoring Frederick

    American Society of Cinematographers to Honor Frederick Elmes

    The American Society of Cinematographers will honor Frederick Elmes with a lifetime achievement award. The ASC is also honoring Donald A. Morgan with the career achievement in television award, Bruno Delbonnel with the international award; and Don McCuaig with the presidents awards. The accolades will be presented at the annual ASC awards gala on Jan. [...]

  • Camerimage includes 'Joker' in Main Competition.

    Camerimage Main Competition includes ‘Ford v Ferrari,’ ‘Joker’ and ‘The Irishman’

    Several awards season contenders — including “Ford v Ferrari” (pictured), “Joker” and “the Irishman” — will screen in the main competition at Camerimage, the cinematography-oriented film festival that will take place in Torun, Poland, on Nov. 9-16. In alphabetical order, the selected films are: “Amundsen” (Norway); director: by Espen Sandberg: cinematographer: Pål Ulvik Rokseth “Bolden” [...]

  • First still from the set of

    How the 'Jojo Rabbit' Production Team Created a Child's View of Nazi Germany

    When picturing Nazi Germany during World War II, most people think of black-and-white or sepia-toned images of drab cities. For the cinematographer and production designer of “Jojo Rabbit,” a film set squarely in that time and place, it became clear that the color palette of the era was far more varied than they could have [...]

  • National Theatre Live Midsummer's Night Dream

    National Theatre Live Marks Decade of Stage-to-Screen With Immersive ‘Midsummer’

    National Theatre Live has filmed nearly eight dozen theatrical productions over the last decade, bringing theater to the cinema using top technologies and talents in the videography space. This month, on the eve of its 10th anniversary, its production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is challenging the technical producers and crew with an immersive stage [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    How Bright Bulbs Enabled 'The Lighthouse's' Tough Black-and-White Shoot

    Early in development on “The Lighthouse,” writer-director Robert Eggers asked cinematographer Jarin Blaschke if he thought they could capture the look they were going for digitally. Blaschke answered no: Digital wouldn’t let them achieve the texture they had in mind — “what we photography nerds would call ‘micro-contrast.’ [The look] was never going to be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content