Exclusive: Danny DeVito Talks The Blood Factory and More
The conversation transitioned accordingly to his portrayal of the Penguin in Tim Burton’s 1991 feature film Batman Returns, a role which given DeVito’s childhood obsession with DC’s Batman proved rather surreal, as well as to the prosthetic transformation required of him in order to physically breathe life into the wings of the caped crusader’s squat nemesis.
“I was really pleased to get that part,” DeVito reflected. “It was a gift to work with Tim (Burton), who is totally into his art. (The conceptual drawings which) he did for the Penguin were almost to a ‘T’ what the costume became. We collaborated and made some little alterations, but his operatic style was right up my alley. I love that stuff. I had a great time doing that.”
As for the makeup process, “I actually worked on that film with Ve Neill, who is one of Frank Ippolito’s mentors (writer’s note: she appeared with Frank on "Face Off" as one of that show’s makeup judges), and she is a master of design makeup, and we spent a lot of time together on that movie,” said DeVito.
“In fact, I spent sixty-six days in makeup on Batman Returns!” he continued. “I would have to get to set three or four hours before everyone else, and it would still be dark, and I’d go to the trailer and Ve would be set up and ready to go, and I would have my cup of tea, and she’d be standing there with this brush and a beaker in her hands. The signal would be that the moment I put down my tea, she would start. There’s something about the makeup. She had to put this glue on my face and it had to be cold for it to set, and I would be burying my head in the tea and take my last sip and then set it down, and then I was hers for almost three hours. She would take that first cold brush over my nose and nostrils and lip, but as soon as she put that prosthetic on and pressed it and powdered it, then that was the turning point. The rest of the process was a piece of cake. I’d lay there and watch films while she worked.”
Conversation turned to DeVito’s embracing of the Internet and its inherent ability to allow him to digitally distribute his Splatter Cuts, and also to his one of his other Generation Z interests, San Diego’s annual Comic-Con.
“Releasing The Blood Factory series as a DVD or Blu-ray compilation has been pitched, and we do talk about it, but we don’t have any immediate plans to do that,” said DeVito. “I am looking forward to Comic-Con though. The Blood Factory has gone a couple of years in a row now, and we look forward to going down there and partying and having a good time at our booth. Nick (Bonamy) is always drawing new Blood Factory comic books that are really cool, and he’s a really wonderful artist, so we’ll have those there. Frank is going to work on some gags for us, too, and we also always shoot a promo there. Two years ago I did one where my head explodes, and then last year’s we did with the same reporter, who is one of The Blood Factory’s resident actors, where she is doing an interview where we are having lunch.” (The twist being that DeVito was the lunch, and you can check out both promos below).
“So, we are focusing now a bit on Comic-Con, and I’m going to be editing ‘Nest of Vipers’ and then I’ll tackle editing ‘Skin Deep,’ which looks beautiful,” DeVito offered of his Blood Factory plans. “We have a couple of other shorts we’d like to do, but that of course is predicated on everyone’s availability, where if I’m in a spot where I have time to shoot and put together a weekend or a day or two, and so do the actors and crew, then we do it. I also start the seventh season of 'It’s Always Sunny', thank goodness, in April, and I’ve been having a lot of fun over there.”
Having worked for so many years within the studio system, we queried DeVito on the satisfaction he receives in personally funding and overseeing The Blood Factory’s shorts and his approach to independent filmmaking.
“Collaboration is one thing, but creative control is another,” he reflected. “Collaboration is with the artists that make the shorts - the costumers and set designers and DP and effects and actors, which for me is exciting and a lot of fun. I guess in this sense I would be the one considered ‘the studio,’ and I’ve always wanted the main focus to be on the execution, and to make that experience as much fun as possible, so that everyone comes back and wants to do it again. At some point we’ll have enough that maybe we’ll do a screening and invite folks to come and see them in a theatre. I mean, the ‘Splatter Cuts’ look great on the web, which is what they are made for, but they look great on the big screen, too. With technology they get nicer and nicer looking!”
Visit DeVito’s The Blood Factory online.
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