Makeup artist works magic on Hollywood’s biggest filmsLOS ANGELES ― Hollywood has long been known as a world of wonder and fantasy, where dreams come alive on the silver screen.
But a director’s vision often needs a lot of work before it comes true. One of the prominent creative forces that make the movies what they are today is the special makeup team. The ingenuity of special makeup reaches its full potential when filming a science fiction or a horror flick.
None of the characters from the 1939 movie “Wizard of Oz,” including the Tin Man, Scarecrow or the Cowardly Lion, would have existed without the help of special makeup; same goes for the blood-sucking Count Dracula, as well as Batman or Superman.
In a such a demanding field, a young, slightly-built Korean woman has been working herself to the bone, breathing life into imaginative characters for audiences all over the world. Diana Yoo, 35, has been working as a special makeup artist for the past six years, the only Korean in this field in Hollywood.
Ms. Yoo currently works at Cinovation Studio, the creative force behind blockbuster films such as “Nutty Professor” (1996), “Batman & Robin” (1997), “King Kong” (1976), “Exorcist” (1973) and “Videodrome” (1983).
The undisputed master of special effects and makeup, Rick Baker, who has been nominated 10 times at the Academy Awards and has won six Oscars, is the senior visual effects supervisor at Cinovation Studio.
Ms. Yoo, who has been in the industry since 1998, has demonstrated her skills in numerous Hollywood movies, including “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000), “The Planet of the Apes” (2001), “The Ring” (2002) and “Men in Black 2” (2002).
When Ms. Yoo got married in 1995 after graduating from Korea University as a social science major, it never occurred to her that she would one day be working in Hollywood. While living in the United States with her husband, it dawned on Ms. Yoo that she should get a job that required expertise.
Ms. Yoo applied to a makeup school, and after graduating she got a temporary job as a makeup artist for commercials. She was later introduced to Cinovation Studio.
“The first movie that I worked on was ‘Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’” said Ms. Yoo.
“Throughout the entire production, I was making pointy ears for the village people. Later, when I counted them, the number amounted to 5,000.”
Ms. Yoo says actor Jim Carrey, who played the Grinch, got so frustrated at wearing the elaborate makeup that he tore his mask off, and she had to work all night to repair it.
“When the movie was nominated for an Oscar for special makeup, I had a sudden rush of joy,” said Ms. Yoo.
She even appeared in the film “Men in Black 2,” as an alien. “I feel it is my destiny to be a special makeup artist,” Ms. Yoo said.
When she first started her career as a movie makeup artist, she was gratified that someone would even give her a chance to work on a movie. Today, she works and competes with the best in her field.
“Special makeup is a job that’s perfect for Asian women, who are delicate and meticulous,” said Ms. Yoo.
As glamorous as Hollywood can be, she still has an attachment to her homeland. “I hope I get the chance to participate in making a Korean film,” Ms. Yoo said.
by Yang Kyung-ah