From Variety magazine
Donald Mowat tackles physical limits in Blade Runner 2049 and Stonger.
by Marj Galas
This is a busy year for makeup and hair designer Donald Mowat, who worked on two major releases: Blade Runner 2049 and Stronger.
Mowat was a big fan of Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner, released in 1982, so he was psyched when helmer Dennis Villeneuve asked him to lead the makeup department for the sequel – a revisiting of the L.A. based futuristic tale set 30 years later. Mowat overcame initial anxiety over the epic scope of the project and was happy to reteam with the director and cinematographer Roger Deakins, with whom he had worked on Sicario and Prisoners as well.
Blade Runner 2049 required every type of makeup application: character, aging, beauty and fantasy. Mowat and Villeneuve met to discuss initial concepts. The designs found inspiration in many sources, including Alexander McQueen’s fashions, Jack Nicholson’s torn nose in Chinatown and Rutger Hauer’s bloodied face in the original Blade Runner.
Some design elements were left in limbo due to scheduling conflicts and the remote Hungarian locations. Jared Leto was available only one week prior to his scene, and Mowat wanted to make sure he’d be able to blend his concepts with the actor’s vision of his character. “We shipped 12 cases of makeup from L.A.,” he says, “just to make sure he’d have everything he needed. It was terrifying.”
Mowat came aboard Stronger, a film about Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, when Jake Gyllenhaal (who plays Bauman) introduced him to the script and to director David Gordon Green. The makeup artist carefully researched every aspect of leg amputation, speaking with surgeons and studying musculature and tissue damage.
Gyllenhaal’s amputations were sometimes hidden by pratical objects, but many scenes required them to be visible, and Mowat worked with Autonomous FX to design visual effects specifically to convey the look of a double amputee. First, a life cast was made of Gyllenhaal’s legs. Tight green socks were created for green-screen-like and seamless substitution of visuals.
Mowat worked with local crew in Boston to source materials for his creations. He also met Bauman. To capture what he noticed, he outfitted Gyllenhaal with hazel contacts for the pre-bombing scenes and dark contacts for the scenes that unfold after the incident.
“Jeff is charming,” says Mowat, “but you see the trauma in his eyes.”