Japanese-born American special make-up effects artist and visual artist Kazuhiro Tsuji is the only other Asian American to be nominated and win for “The Darkest Hour” and “Bombshell.”
The award was created by the Academy in 1981 after complaints that there was no way to recognize the makeup artists for the 1980 film “The Elephant Man.”
Aspiras, who is of Vietnamese-Filipino descent, also earned a BAFTA nomination last week and is nominated for a Makeup and Hairstylist Guild nomination. He has worked with Gaga for over 13 years, including creating the look sported by Gaga for Variety’s Actors on Actors cover. Speaking with Variety recently about the significance of being recognized for his work, Aspiras said, “I started with Lady Gaga 13 years ago, and fans from around the world who have written to me telling me they have become hairdressers — that to me is probably one of the most rewarding things ever.” He continues, “It’s also about being a role model in that I am Asian American with refugee parents.”
But creating three decades of looks for “House of Gucci” was perhaps his biggest challenge to date. Working alongside Gaga and fellow BAFTA/MUAH nominee Sarah Tanno, the key was to not see Gaga on screen, but Patrizia Reggiani. To accomplish that, the duo built a guide of every look they would need to create and Aspiras relied on 10 hero wigs to create 52 looks, “and a lot of mousse, hairspray and setting spray,” he adds.
Aside from looking at photos of the real-life Reggiani, Aspiras studied photos of Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and even the “Dynasty” Alexis Carrington character from the ’80s, and other wealthy and stylish women of that era to build out the different looks. He went one step further to build out looks for the younger Reggiani by interviewing locals and watching films from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. “I wanted to see what [looks] she was influenced by,” he said.