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Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick Best Oscar For Transforming Gary Oldman Into Winston Churchill

Kazuhiro Tsuji and Gary Oldman On The Set Of The Darkest Hour

by Editor Kriss Perras


Kazuhiro Tsuji was working as a contemporary hyperrealist sculptor after a long and decorated career in Hollywood as a special effects make-up artist, when he decided to become involved in the Oscar nominated film the Darkest Hour. Coming out of retirement from the film industry was a good decision for Oscar Winner Tsuji. It has yielded several awards nominations and wins for his beautiful work with also Oscar Winner Gary Oldman on the same film. Tsuji won this year in the category for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling for turning Oldman into a very credible Winston Churchill.

Backstage tonight after his Oscar win, Tsuji said, “The timing was really important, because I left the film industry and Gary asked me to design this. Really everything came together with great timing. I met David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick. They are really special. I never worked with such talent before.”

The point they felt they had pulled it all off was the final test day, Malinowski said, whom Tsuji shares the Oscar win with, along with Sibbick.

Tsuji is the man who brought us the special effects make-up for films such as The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008), TRON: Legacy (2010), Total Recall (2012), and character designs for Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011). Malibu Arts Journal conducted a Q&A with Tsuji. In this interview we discover just how Tsuji made the incredible transformation from Oldman to Churchill.


Kazuhiro Tsuji Q&A

MAJ: How did you make Gary Oldman look like Winston Churchill?

TSJUI: I took a lifecast of Gary and 3D body scan and a lot of photos. Then I sculpted a likeness make-up on the lifecast to create facial appliances to apply to make him look like Winston Churchill. We also made a body suit and wig. I studied Winston Churchill’s photos while I designed those elements. Facial appliances were applied on him every filming day by David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick.

MAJ: How difficult is it to make a likeness of a famous person like Churchill?

TSUJI: It was very difficult since Gary does not look like Churchill at all. Facial proportions were very different. So I needed to adapt Churchill’s facial distinction and features to Gary’s face without overdoing the sculpture. It was important not to overdo it. If I did so, it would make him look like he was wearing a mask. Gary should be able to act through the make-up. We made the appliances extremely soft.

MAJ: How many prosthetics did you have to create for Oldman to make the Churchill likeness?

TSUJI: The prosthetic appliance consisted of a nose, chin, a pair of cheeks, the neck and shoulder, a body suit and wig. Each of the pieces were molded then cast over 60 pairs since once it was used, it could not be reused.

MAJ: At what point in the production process did you become involved in The Darkest Hour?

TSUJI: I was involved from the beginning since it was very important to make Gary have the same likeness as Churchill before the production started.



The Darkest Hour


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