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“ We're using not only techniques we used back in the '80s and '90s, but also techniques of the 2000s ”

Jeff Dawn

In the face of Arnold

Fri 4 Jul 2003 | 19h44 GMT+1

Makeup FX and the Dawn family go back to Hollywood's earliest days, when Jack Dawn came out to the filmmaking center from Kentucky. He proved himself to directors and producers as a top makeup maestro by showing up for extra work as anything from an Indian to a mountain man, made up by his own hand. Jack rose quickly to become the head of MGM's makeup department for fifteen years (1935-1950), working on, among other things, THE WIZARD OF OZ. On top of that, his equally talented son, Bob Dawn, is the guy credited with coming up with the look of STAR TREK's Spock, among his many projects.

The third generation, Jeff Dawn, has been working in Hollywood since the early '80s and has personally done Arnold Schwarzenegger's makeup since the first TERMINATOR. His duties have included everything from clone work in THE 6TH DAY to the Mr. Freeze visage for BATMAN & ROBIN, while also taking time to work on non-Arnie movies like DEEP BLUE SEA and THE SCORPION KING. Now, Dawn returns to the role that won him an Oscar in 1992 (for T2: JUDGMENT DAY), that of the familiar T-800 cyborg in TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES.

"We're upping the bar that much higher on this film," Dawn says. "We're using not only techniques we used back in the '80s and '90s, but also techniques of the 2000s, including digital work in the way of greenscreen-material sections on the face and body. We're using silicons, gelatins, different urethane-all things that really weren't utilized on a daily basis in the makeup world of 1990. Sometimes it's because it's more durable, but sometimes it's because they're more realistic-looking, since they move better. Arnold does sustain a pretty massive amount of damage through this film, and the audience is going to be pretty blown away by what he can sustain and keep ticking given the way he looks at the end."

Though makeup and digital FX have been blended in the past, the work done on T3 has been described by both designer Stan Winston (who came up with a new look for the battle-worn T-800) and Dawn as "groundbreaking," including both the liquid metal T-X (Kristanna Loken) and the bullet-and-bomb-shredded T-800. When asked about how much of the movie will feature the digital T-800 vs. Schwarzenegger in heavy makeup, Dawn responds with the secretive party line of "I can't get into those details," but has plenty to say about his new director, Jonathan Mostow.

"It's interesting because James Cameron is TERMINATOR, so you're constantly saying to yourself, 'Is it going to be as good? Is it going to be better? Is it not going to be as good?' " Dawn says. "Unanimously, across the board, everybody's very excited about Jonathan Mostow. He has a passion for what's he's doing, he has a vision for what he's doing-I know these are all buzzwords you hear all the time, but this man really does. He lives, sleeps and breathes this project and he can see it very three-dimensionally. That's the way he is with this TERMINATOR movie, but also the whole series now. He knows it so well, he has so many great ideas; he's bringing a different storytelling approach to it than James Cameron would, but with all the continuity of what the fans loved about the first two movies. So it's going to be a great addition to this franchise and personally, working with him, he's a very soft-spoken, intelligent man who can convey his thoughts well and has been a real pro to work with."

As you might imagine, a big chore for Dawn on the TERMINATOR movies has derived from the fact that the T-800 is supposed to look exactly the same one movie to the next, while Schwarzenegger has aged nearly 20 years since the first film. However, Dawn says that audiences won't be able to tell the difference between the Arnold of T2 and the one in T3.

"That's a concern with any movie that's supposed to take place over so few years," Dawn admits. "With the Terminator character, they're supposed to look the same. Well, Arnold looked different from TERMINATOR to T2, and that was only seven years' difference. He had that boyish look in TERMINATOR and no longer had it in T2. But the audience accepted that right away, because T2 was such a big film and Arnold was a very believable cyborg in it. Now we have 12 years between T2 to T3, and the talk among everyone who goes and sees dailies-the director, the producers, myself, Stan Winston-is that Arnold doesn't look any different. That's a huge joy for me, because it's one of my biggest responsibilities: to make Arnold look as good as possible.

"I'm fortunate with Arnold because he's lived a clean life-he eats right, he exercises and he has amazing genes," Dawn continues. "Arnold's skin is very elastic. I know that people will come to me and say, 'Oh, Jeff, he looks fantastic! I don't know what you did!' The truth of the matter is, it's Arnold's parents and the choices he has made that you really have to compliment. If we went to TERMINATOR 7 and 8, then we might be going into different areas, but for right now, I couldn't be happier with the way Arnold looks."

But certainly a big-time, $20 million-plus-per-picture star like Schwarzenegger dreads heading back to the makeup chair for such extensive work (anywhere from one to four hours a day on T3, depending on how battle-damaged he's supposed to be that day), particularly with audiences being so savvy about FX work and demanding greater realism. Dawn contends, however, that Schwarzenegger just sees it as another day on the job. "Arnold knows when he signs on to do a TERMINATOR film that he's going to be covered in appliances, packed paint and greasepaint and he's going to have lenses or teeth put in. I've tortured this man for years," laughs Dawn. "It means me throwing snow on him when he was running around naked in Austria while we were filming RED HEAT. It might mean me throwing freezing cold mud on him down in Mexico shooting nights while on PREDATOR, or gluing his eyes closed so he can't see, like we did on T2 for hours a day, so he had no depth perception. We're using adhesives and removers, and it's irritating to the skin.

"Of course, we do everything we can to preserve his skin's health," he adds, "using lotions and different masks and creams. But when you glue something onto somebody's face strong enough so that it lasts for 12 or 14 hours and then at the end of the day, even when you take it off as gently as you can, you still abrade the skin a bit, it takes its toll over a period of several days in a row."

Though some fans have speculated about how good a third TERMINATOR film could be after the resounding (and lasting) success of the second one, Dawn remains confident that T3 will be just as big a hit. "Being a TERMINATOR fan and being so wrapped up in the whole TERMINATOR world through my career, I really believe this one is going to feed the TERMINATOR fans everything they're hoping for and more."

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