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Immersed in Movies: Howard Berger Talks 'Hitchcock' Makeup

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood January 2, 2013 at 12:52PM

While the first glimpse of Anthony Hopkins as the Master of Suspense in "Hitchcock" is startling (how could it be otherwise?), SFX makeup wiz Howard Berger makes us believe in the illusion almost immediately...

Hitchcock Anthony Hopkins

Meanwhile, Samuels worked on the hair: "Anthony has a full head of white hair. I shaved his head and colored the hair in and left the white sides out and put a little lace hair piece on the top to give it a wispy, balding effect to complement the makeup that Howard did."

Berger was apprehensive at first about "Hitchcock" being shot digitally. But this worked out well because cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth lit it for film with the Red Epic. They'd be watching on a monitor and asked for a light adjustment to make the makeup less apparent and Cronenweth accommodated them.

Interestingly, though, the application routine between Berger and lead makeup artist Peter Montagna was almost balletic, the way they simultaneously worked each side of Hopkins' face. Berger maintains that the trick, of course, was not taking the viewer out of the movie. Hopkins played along by sneaking into his dressing room on the Paramount lot every day and emerging as Hitch when they were ready to shoot.

However, Hopkins occasionally broke character with Berger to do spot-on Jerry Lewis impressions in honor of shooting on the same backlot where the comedian/director made his movies.

But it is "Psycho" that remains near and dear to Berger's heart as his favorite Hitchcock movie. "Through the course of the shooting, we had visitors that worked with Hitchcock on 'Psycho,' who thought we had gone back in time, and that was the greatest compliment we could get," he regales.

Hitchcock Making of Featurette

This article is related to: Hitchcock, Immersed In Movies, Features, Anthony Hopkins

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.