Becoming a Witch with the Hansel & Gretel Wizards
Step into the world of witches and trolls… Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton kick supernatural ass in the decidedly different shoot-'em-up thriller Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, now available Digitally and coming to Blu-ray & DVD June 11, and to celebrate the release, I got an opportunity to meet the film's director, Tommy Wirkola, and the wizards behind the prosthetic makeup and creature-effects for the movie -- who promptly turned me into a gruesome witch!
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The Glendale, CA-based Spectral Motion, founded by Academy Award nominee Mike Elizalde, is one of Hollywood's top makeup and creature effects studios, having created pieces for many of Guillermo del Toro's films including Pacific Rim, Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, plus work on R.I.P.D., Looper, X-Men: First Class, Fantastic Four, Your Highness, Paul, Land of the Lost and much more. A haven for talented sculptors, artists, animatronic engineers and craftsmen, their incredible work keeps on-screen effects tangible and realistically grounded in an industry that has been overwhelmed by an over-reliance on CGI effects.
Elizalde and his team welcomed me into their world to uncover a little movie magic and transform me into one of the horrifying witches from Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (portrayed onscreen by Zoe Bell), an hour-long demo process with a lot less detail (and hours in the chair) than my big-screen counterpart, courtesy of talented makeup artists Ryk Fortuna (whose work includes The Hobbit and King Kong) and Lufeng Qu (whose work includes The Hunger Games and turning Jennifer Lawrence's mug blue in X-Men: First Class).
Once transformed, I decided to conduct interviews with Elizalde, Wirkola and Hansel & Gretel actor Derek Mears "in character." Why not?
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters casts Renner and Arterton as the classic title fairytale characters – only this time, they're all grown up and making up for that "traumatic gingerbread-house incident" that went down when they were just kids. Armed with an arsenal of medieval weapons and playthings, Hansel and Gretel must face off with a new, evil witch (played by Famke Janssen) and her coven, who are kidnapping children for a nefarious plan.
The film's fearsome troll, named Edward, turns out to have a heart of gold, and the towering Mears (whose other creature credits include being a Predator in 2010's Predators and Jason Voorhees in the '09 Friday the 13th reboot) was on-hand at Spectral Motion to not only talk about his character and the transformation process, but to once again climb into the specially designed animatronic Edward suit for fun.
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And a quick post-script note: It turns out that the staff at Spectral Motion also have a heart of gold, having recruited Ron Perlman last summer to once again don his Hellboy makeup and costume to help make a wish come true for a young boy named Zachary, a six-year-old leukemia patient who told the Make-a-Wish Foundation that he wanted to "meet and become Hellboy." The great news is Zachary is now doing great. You can see the fun pictures HERE.