Russell Crowe has spent many hours in the makeup chair over his decades-long acting career, but the process to transform into Roger Ailes for Showtime’s limited series “The Loudest Voice” was unlike any he had experienced before.
“The first fitting was almost psychologically scarring,” Crowe says of finding the right prosthetics. “It was near to a seven-hour process.” By the end of that first session, the actor jokes that he looked like “Danny DeVito’s taller, older brother.”
To fully become Ailes, Crowe worked with prosthetic makeup supervisor Adrien Morot, who has more than 30 years of experience and more than 130 credits to his name. The duo had worked together twice before, but it was “The Loudest Voice” in which the two formed the bond that has Crowe saying, “I want to work with him on every project.”
“His job is preeminent — nothing anyone does for the rest of the day matters,” Crowe continues. “If he doesn’t get his job right at the beginning of the day and you don’t look like the character, we are all wasting our time.”
Crowe admits that playing the former head of Fox News, who inhabits a much different political world from Crowe’s came with complications, including the difficulty of having to deliver lines that were “anti-Obama.” But, Crowe says, “I found that time in the makeup chair productive.”
“The positivity of your makeup and hair people gets under your skin,” he notes. “Not only are they [physically] preparing you to play that character, but they’re preparing you personally as an individual as to how you approach that day.”
Morot, meanwhile, says he welcomed input from Crowe in collaborating on the look of Ailes, whether it was shifting a prosthetic slightly or even looking at application technique.
“You normally glue prosthetics everywhere on the skin so there are no empty air pockets,” says Morot.
This is a process that keeps the makeup in place the whole day. Previous experience taught Crowe that if too much latex glue had been applied to the vocal area, it became difficult to talk, so they worked together to ensure Crowe was comfortable in the pieces he had to wear.
Morot took Crowe’s suggestion and anchored the prosthetics to the chin and didn’t glue below the jawline. “It’s usually a recipe for disaster,” he says. Except, this time, it worked perfectly, giving that natural feel and jiggle below his jawline with the excess skin.
It also took some of the physical pressure off of Crowe’s throat, which was important because the face makeup alone weighed about 10 pounds. And in addition to that, Crowe wore a bodysuit and a hairpiece with just a few wispy strands. Morot’s goal was to make Crowe feel as comfortable as possible and that was something he took into consideration when designing the makeup.
Their partnership also allowed for faster application. By the end of shooting, they had gotten the average transformation time down to only 2½ hours.
“We had an energizing attitude and it had become like a sporting event,” Crowe says.