Science Fiction Filme) Dear Mr. Goodwin. Who can claim to make themselves immortal by creating one of the most iconic props in film history: the cropped ear in BLUE VELVET (1986). But you could also see her art in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1990) or THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992). Can you briefly tell us a little about your life?
Jeff Goodwin) I am 59 years old, born in 1961, and when I was a kid I loved movies! Especially the old black and white horror movies! But when I saw the original PLANET OF THE APES movie in the theater on the big screen when it came out in 1968, that did it for me! I was hooked from that moment on! I wanted to do makeup effects for movies.
These were the days long before computers and the internet so I relied on books and watching every movie I could to start learning. Early makeup pioneers like Lon Chaney and Jack Pierce, William Tuttle, John Chambers and Dick Smith were and still are some of my favorites! And who I always tried to emulate their great work. The first book I found as a kid in the library that I learned from was the 4th edition of Richard Corson’s Stage Makeup. Some of my work now illustrates this book! It has come full circle!
SFF.) You were starting your career in the glorious decade of the 80s and 90s. What do you think about that time? Why do people love this period of movies?
J.G.) I worked and was paid for the first time to do makeup effects for a movie called THE MEMBRANE (1980), I was 19 years old, in university at the time for theater. My favorite time for movies was the late 60’s to mid to late 70’s. To me this was the period in which the best ground breaking films were made. And most of them still stand up today! I guess it’s harder for me to be as kind to the films of the 80’s and beyond because I am involved in making many of them. Some very good ones, a couple modern day classics and a handful of stinkers too in my career! It’s been a good ride and I’m still going, 41 years later! I have been very fortunate to have worked with so many wonderful and talented people all over this world for so many years now. I have been honored with a half dozen different film awards. But I personally enjoy teaching film history and sparking that love for film the most!
SFF.) What is your opinion about education to become an expert in make-up? Is there any requirement or talent you need to have next to enthusiasm?
J.G.) To learn makeup for movies and television is totally different from just learning how to apply makeup. I use to teach a lot and I taught and started the career’s of many artist now working in the field. Education is very important and must be supported! One of the most important things about makeup that no other teacher but myself would ever tell a student is, “there is really no right or wrong in makeup. It is all personal opinions and tastes. And what works for the camera to achieve the desired look!” No other makeup artist would dare teach that, but I do! Each face is different each character is different therefore each makeup should be too. Working with the films director and then with the actors to create their character is the most fun part of my job.
SFF) Your Portfolio is a wonderful compilation of fantastic work. Do you have some favorite works of yours and is there a project that, unfortunately, never came to fruition, even though you had already designed a lot for it?
J.G.) My top 3 favorite films that I have done are probably in order as well- David Lynch’s BLUE VELVET (1986) we shot it in 1985. Michael Mann’s THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992) we shot it in 1991. And Ang Lee’s RIDE WITH THE DEVIL (1999) shot in 1998-1999.
Those are my personal favorites that I think are very good movies.
SFF) CGI nowadays could be a curse or a blessing. What do you think about it comparing to “old school”- films back in the days? Does it makes the progress easier?
J.G.) Not so much projects that didn’t get made but the newer projects with cgi which I don’t care for unless used as a tool to enhance an effect or stunt instead of outright digitally creating it. I personally do not like the look of cgi and prefer physical effects. Depends on who you ask if cgi makes film making easier, for me no it doesn’t. In fact I really miss the days of actual film!
SFF) If we look back to the movies you have done, we see that you did a lot of genre-movies. I am really into science fiction (or fantasymovies in general) because I think, that those kind of movies are the best way to show actual political and social events. For example SOYLENT GREEN or SILENT RUNNING. Do you believe that these genres can transfer something to the people?
J.G.) I totally agree with you about Sci-fi , I love it too! In fact SOYLENT GREEN is one of favorites still, I watch it at least once a year! Great film!
I think the best one I did as far as being scary is actually THE HANDMAID´S TALE (1990) directed by the great Volker Schlöndorff.
SFF.) Do you take some (personal) fears into your make-up? Where did you take your inspiration from for this design?
J.G.) I don’t have any real fears. My main concern is trying to always make things look real!
As strange as this may sound 9 out of 10 times when it comes to gore in film the real thing looks fake! So you must do your homework and research and know what the real thing looks like but know how to change it or bend it to work for the camera and appear real to an audience.
It’s not easy, and one of my favorite things I do!
SFF.) You work for both: cinema and television-series. Could you please give us an overview of the extent to which the working methods in these media are different?
J.G.) I have never treated what I do any different for the big screen or television, for me my job is basically the same. Especially true today with cable and now streaming content is the same quality as features.
SFF) You have also worked on films like RAMBO III or MANHUNT. there, instead of being in the fantastic realm, you tend to see very "human" make-up like scars or injuries. To what extent is the difficulty with such make-up?
J.G.) I feel like I answered that when I said I like to keep it looking real. But sometimes really quite often actually, I will push to makes things better or more graphic or horrific if called for! I have written scenes that were not in the original script and presented them to many directors and most have liked my ideas and those scenes are now in the movies we did! One such scene that I came up with a wrote as well as doing the effects for of course is the wood splinter scene in RAMBO III (1988). The scene where he performed surgery on his own side and then lights the wound with gunpowder to cauterize the bleeding! All me! Fun stuff!
SFF.) Imagine you meet an extraterrestrial one day. He wants to know why you were stuck into movies with just one movie to explain, which will it be and why?
J.G.) If I ever meet an Alien I doubt we would talk movies. I guess of my films I would show them The Last of the Mohicans, it’s a classic story and movie. But I’d be more interested in their movies?!
SFF.) I held up with one of the most important question to the end: What was the most difficult effect you were working on and why?
J.G.) I never pick easy in fact I sometimes make things harder for myself by adding effects like I was saying before. I do a lot of shows that were very hard to make big epic movies like, RAMBO III, THE LAST OF THER MOHICANS, SUPER MARIO BROS., RIDE WITH THE DEVIL and WAR & PEACE.
I have joked over the years that I got these films because I was the only makeup artist dumb enough to say “yes”!
I liked the challenge and still do!
SFF.) Dear Mr. Goodwin. I thank you immensely for taking time doing this interview and wish you all the best for your future movie making.
J.G.) Thank you. Keep in touch and stay safe!