Includes a section that will show you how to re-create your own makeup as well as create your own props, using readily available items.
Without the resourceful, innovative, almost magical talents of the untold hundreds of behind-the-scenes people who have worked on Star Trek, those and countless other futuristic marvels would be just that—words on paper. For years the major responsibility for making it all real for viewing audiences has fallen to people like Academy Award-winning makeup supervisor Michael Westmore and property master Alan Sims, and their incredible staff of artisans. These modern-day dream shapers have guarded their award-winning secrets with national security-level caution…until today. The veil of secrecy is pulled back in Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts.
Through dozens of rare sketches, photographs, and designs, discover how those remarkable craftspeople made the fantastic vistas, creatures, and technology encountered every week. You’ll be amazed at how low-tech some of these hi-tech wonders really are! Who decided to make the Andorian blue? Of what was the belt on the original Klingon costume made? Was the first phaser really a block of wood? All your questions will be answered in Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts!
Before filming started on the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I received a cast, staff, and crew list from the production office. Among the scores of names there were only three that I recognized: LeVar Burton, Wil Wheaton, and Michael Westmore.
LeVar because of Roots, Wil for Stand by Me, and Michael Westmore for … well, what? The Westmore name I knew well enough from countless films, going all the way back to my earliest movie-going. I had seen the names Monty, Perc, and Frank Westmore and I had assumed they were a family. I didn’t know they were a dynasty.
On that production list the name Michael Westmore was down as Head of Makeup Department. That was all I needed to know. I would be working with a man whose family name was linked with the whole history of filmmaking in Hollywood. I didn’t know that I would also be working with an artist, an inventor, a visionary, a fantasist. I later discovered he was also an extraordinarily nice man, a generous man, a raconteur, and a chocolate addict.
My makeup for TNG could not have been more simple and straightforward; therefore, there was no need for Michael to focus his special talents on me. I passed through the hands of several different makeup artists in my first season – not, I hope, because I was difficult. Occasionally Michael would do my makeup or “touch me up” and I always felt a certain sense of privilege at those times, having his hands on my face.
Eventually, however, as the writers became bolder with the character of Picard my appearance had to change: more youthful – with a hairpiece for “Violations,” more aged for the series finale “All Good Things …,” extremely aged for “Inner Light,” Romulan for “Unification,” a character for the holodeck fifteenth century soldier Williams. (It was a bit of a cheat my playing this role but Rick Berman agreed with me that it would be fun to hide the good captain behind this small, supporting Shakespearean role. Unfortunately, despite Michael’s skills, too many people spotted it was me.)
Michael took charge of those special makeups.
I always enjoyed these transformations – watching in the mirror as the different stages of the process were reached and the familiar features of Patrick Stewart disappeared. What I found interesting was that with the altered appearance there came an altered feeling about who I was, how I moved, how I talked. Michael’s makeup design satisfied that deep and ancient impulse in an actor to “dress up” and become somebody else.
Of course, I never got to wear one of the more extreme and “alien” of Michael’s designs. I wish I’d had the chance. Maybe I will in some future “guest” appearance. I did, however, get to work often with many of these aliens and it was always fascinating, particularly as I usually only met these actors once they were in costume and makeup.
I believed in them. They were very convincing. I always had to remind myself, however, that I was Jean-Luc Picard and Jean-Luc would never stare inquisitively at an alien or intrude on his or her body space. Sometimes the toughest thing was behaving quite naturally when confronted with a very unhuman-like or an occasionally quite terrifying creature.
Michael’s designs were never mere fantasy. There was always a feeling of a skeleton and cell structure just below the surface. These makeups breathed, and blood – or something – ran in their veins. I even sensed there was a particular odor to some of our aliens. The Bynars I felt would be sweet-smelling whereas the Cardassians, I am sure, were too foul to want to get close to. (Any Cardassian reading this, please don’t take it personally.) I was very fond of the Bynars – maybe it was their pretty dancers’ bodies – and wished that we had met them more than once.
As I have mentioned, only rarely did I have to spend an extended time in the makeup chair. I would boast that I could go from my street clothes to “set ready” in around twelve minutes, if pushed. Nevertheless, and I think to the irritation of some of my more extensively made-up colleagues, I hold the record for the earliest call and the longest makeup on TNG.
That was for the most aged appearance of my character in “Inner Light.” My makeup call was 1:00 a.m. and took a full six hours. I slept some of the time, as Michael would work away in a manner that was soothing and sleep inducing. But if I needed to be entertained or distracted Michael could regale me not only with fascinating stories about his father and uncles and the founder of the dynasty – the tyrannical, brilliant, and tragic George – but also Hollywood gossip, about which makeup artists know more than anyone else. Michael also loves the good life and his dish-by-dish account of his previous evening’s dinner was always amusing and mouthwatering.
It is not possible to think of Star Trek without thinking of Mike Westmore, his dedication to the spirit of Trek, and his very healthy irony about it all. His bottomless inventiveness and humor. His stamina. Study the hours this man put in on the set, in the makeup trailer, in his studio or his office and you will be exhausted at the very thought of it. But above all, for those of us who stumbled into the makeup trailer five days a week, while most of the rest of the West Coast was just opening its curtains on a new day, seeing Michael already cheerfully and busily working away was a comfort and inspiration. 🌳