Given the vast array of imaginative things that Hollywood is capable of crafting, it seems strange that moviemakers still struggle with some of the basics. Traditional makeup techniques that age actors stands as one of the biggest culprits and has often ruined entire films thanks to sloppy, weird, or unbelievable results. As many movies have proven, donning wrinkles and age spots doesn’t automatically equal a successful makeover. In the digital age, it’s easier for filmmakers to get a little help so that grandpa and grandma look more like live, actual people than a Halloween prop — but that’s what makes those who transform actors into senior stars old school-style so impressive. It’s an art form.
Leonardo DiCaprio underwent a dramatic transformation for the upcoming J. Edgar Hoover, and we definitely feel like it’s not one of his best-looking moments. The FBI’s first director didn’t win any beauty contests in his day, but DiCaprio appears to be drowning in his prosthetics, and the whole thing just seems awkward. This got us thinking about other cruddy elderly makeovers. Click past the break to see who made the leap to long in the tooth, in order from most convincing to least. Leave us your list in the comments.
Max von Sydow in The Exorcist
You’ll see Dick Smith’s name pop up again on our list, because there’s really no way around it — the man is a genius in the makeup department. Smith’s groundbreaking work in early television and films like The Godfather won him a solid reputation in Tinseltown. His prosthetic application techniques are still used to this day. The Exorcist — in which the artist married traditional makeup and new special effects techniques (watched closely by his protege Rick Baker) — highlights what makes Smith’s work so incredible. Even though Linda Blair’s grotesque, demonic transformation is often the focus of the 1973 supernatural terror, Smith’s naturalistic approach to age makeup is the real winner. Max von Sydow’s Father Merrin is the elderly priest who leads the dangerous exorcism in the film. What most people don’t realize is that the Swedish actor was only 44-years-old during the making of the movie. Had an Academy Award category for makeup existed during that time, Smith would have won without a doubt. He created Von Sydow’s senior priest by adding ” … appliances on the sides of his face, on his chin, and his upper lip, but the rest was old-age stipple around his eyes and neck, and he had a little waddle over his Adam’s apple.” The artist used a copy of his own neck and applied layers of “old-age stipple” over it. Read more about the process on Smith’s website.