One of the most talked-about moments in David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future” is the Ear Man. The character performs in an underground performance art show with his eyes and mouth sewn shut and his entire body covered in ears.
Alexandra Anger and Monica Pavez were the prosthetics co-designers behind the magic in putting 36 prosthetics pieces together on Tassos Karahalios, who played Klinek.
Anger explains that early discussions with Cronenberg had the character with two additional ears behind his real ears. “But then while we were in Greece, David had an epiphany and decided that he wanted ears all over his body,” says Anger.
The ears were made from silicone prosthetics. Anger says, “It became a discussion of how many ears. We would send it to him and he’d say, ‘Let’s try a few more. It kept going and going until it became, ‘However many you can get on him.'”
Cronenberg’s latest feature is about Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen), who suffers from a disease called “Accelerated Evolution Syndrome” which causes unusual organs to grow inside his body. His partner (Léa Seydoux) surgically removes them in front of a live audience.
Pavez reveals the Ear Man/Clinic sequence was one of her favorite makeup scenes. “It was most involved for what we did in terms of makeup, but we also shot that on the final day. Pavez adds, “Visually, it was very impactful.”
One key sequence during the art show is the autopsy on Brecken, played by Sozos Sotiris, the young child who dies early in the film. For that sequence, they made two artificial bodies.
Says Anger, “We were trying to build as much in our shop in Toronto as we could before we flew over to Greece because those big builds are complicated.”
When it came to in the incision process, the duo had to create organs. Pavez says Cronenberg gave them freedom in what a “strange” organ could look like. Since the film points to those descriptions where it’s described almost like foreign bodies growing inside, they decide to have fun with that creation. Pavez says, “We looked at references of what octopus and marine animal organs look like, and we also looked at tumors.”
As it turns out they didn’t need a blood explosion since the body had been dead for a few weeks. Explains Anger, “There needed some to be some wetness to it, but not a whole lot. What that actually ended up being was a bunch of lubricant.” However, while that was easy to find in Toronto, it was the opposite in Greece. “Neither of us spoke Greek, and we’d go into the pharmacy and there was one small bottle on the shelf. We had to approach the clerk asking, ‘How much lube do you have? We need to buy all of it.'”
She adds, “We ended up having to go to multiple stores because everybody said, ‘We carry two bottles of this.'”