Well, you didn’t think she just came looking like that straight out of the tomb, did ya? We recently had the opportunity of speaking for a few minutes with Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou, whose amazing makeup talents have led her to work on such films as Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, and her latest, The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella.
Lizzie was kind enough to give us a peek into her techniques as well as what it was like working in the Dark Universe. Read on, and enjoy!
DC: Lizzie, for the people who might not be familiar with your work, can you take us back to how you got started in the business?
LG: I started in competition hair work and was working through the salons while I was attending the university for makeup and everything else I needed, and from there I managed to get into a training scheme of about three thousand applicants that were going for only three jobs, and I was one of the three that were chosen. From there I ended up joining a television company that put us through a training school for six months, and then another four years before you became a fully-fledged makeup artist on set with different makeup designers. It was a bit different from America because we covered hair, wigs, makeup, and prosthetics; a lot of people go out and specialize in one or another, but I’ve always been very keen on keeping it all together.
DC: When The Mummy was offered to you, I’m sure the producers had a game plan as to how they wanted Sofia Boutella to look, but did you manage to inject a bit of your own personal touches into the work?
LG: Oh definitely – Alex Kurtzman (the director) really wanted to pay homage to the 1930’s version with Boris Karloff, and he wanted the makeup to be very realistic, and he didn’t want to do a huge amount in post-production with the visual effects because they had a lot of other stuff going on, so he was pretty keen on keeping the makeup looking real. He would always come with his glasses on, look very closely, and he’d say “I think that one works” or “to me that doesn’t look very real” – he was very precise about the fact that we had a female mummy, and we couldn’t do the sort of crinkly face that there was with Boris. So we had a picture of Jack Pierce’s work in the 1930’s version up on our wall, and we wanted to give him something like that. So I started to play with different looks, and I said “maybe it’s good if we know what she looks like as a human, then go in chronological order.” So I started testing different looks to enable me to get to a place where myself, Alex, and Sofia were all happy along with the Universal producers.
DC: Over the course of your career, you’ve had the opportunity to work on some colossal motion pictures – what can you look back on and say was your biggest challenge when creating something for a certain film?
LG: Well, every project is a challenge – that’s what makes it wonderful to be there, but I think that [the hardest is] making people’s skin tone look completely different and making them work out of skin as opposed to makeup that comes off on costumes and doesn’t breathe. When we did all the looks for Guardians of the Galaxy, that was a massive challenge, and then of course I’d taken a lot of the stuff that I had developed on Guardians and brought it over to The Mummy. The Mummy still had its challenges with trying to pay homage to the original but attract a new audience as well that might not yet have had the chance to see the old films, so I was always trying to keep her looking “haute couture” – keeping her quite fashionable, but obviously I was still trying to create a monster. I tried to sneak a few modernistic touches into her look that would make her look hot, but still monster-like that would attract the younger generation.
DC: After the release of The Mummy on Blu-ray and DVD, what can we expect to see your work in down the road?
LG: At the moment I haven’t chosen anything, as I took a little bit of time out, but I’d love to be involved on another Universal project if possible, and I’d love to create a few more aliens! (laughs) I’ve always said that I’d love to do an ultra-modern version of Dracula and something with vampires – that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was younger – and who knows whether Universal will let me go out there and play! (laughs)
The Mummy is out on home video TODAY! Click here to order a copy on Blu-ray/DVD.