Immortal characterStuart Freeborn

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A British make-up artist, Freeborn’s first job to gain him fame was to do the make-up on Alec Guinness, playing Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948). Stanley Kubrick particularly favored Freeborn: for Dr. Strangelove, Freeborn came up with three distinct looks for the three different characters portrayed by Peter Sellers. Later, Kubrick brought Freeborn in for 2001: A Space Odyssey, where he figured out how men in ape masks could create facial expressions on their masks. “He invented many of the techniques that are standard today,” said Michael Key, editor of Make-Up Artist magazine. “One reason for Stuart’s great success was that he was a superb problem-solver.” Later, Freeborn was hired by another iconic franchise. “Stuart was already a makeup legend when he started on ‘Star Wars’,” said director George Lucas. “His artistry and craftsmanship will live on forever in the characters he created.” Those characters include Chewbacca, the Ewoks, and Jabba the Hutt, among others, and Freeborn used whatever inspiration he could find. “I looked at myself in the mirror and decided that I was comic, with all these little knobbles. So I built myself in” to one particular character: Yoda. He got a “highly intelligent” twist by using a little of Albert Einstein’s look too. Freeborn retired in 1990, and died in London on February 5, at 98.

From This is True for 10 February 2013