The technology continues to improve over the years to the delight of filmmakers, who can now use it to give birth to supernatural creatures and magical universes. The proof with these 10 actors whose physique was transformed on the computer for the needs of a film.
Ryan Reynolds- Free Guy
If he retains his usual appearance well to embody his role as Guy in Shawn Levy’s feature film, Ryan Reynolds has completely transformed to play the Dude, the improved version of his character in the game. To give birth to this last, the film team thus called on an actor much more imposing than the star actor, in the person of Aaron Reed, measuring 2m05 for 140kg. The bodybuilder then shot all the scenes with sensors on his faces, so that VFX managers could key in that of Ryan Reynolds instead. After which, it took 39 sessions for the star of Dead Pool to record the same scenes, so that they are synchronized with those of Aaron Reed. A meticulous job that required a lot of patience!
Actor Chris Evans in the film Captain America
To show the physical transformation of the puny Steve Rogers into a super-soldier, now known as Captain America, Marvel had to resort to special effects. Chris Evans therefore started by shooting all the scenes, which were then recorded again by his understudy, Leander Deeny. The face of the first was then digitally grafted onto the body of the second to give an impression of thinness. Particularly delicate due to synchronization difficulties, this work required between 300 and 400 people in post-production.
Ralph Fiennes- Harry Potter
In order to get into the skin of Lord Voldemort in the saga Harry Potter, Ralph Fiennes also had to shoot all his scenes with sensors on his face. In this way, the special effects experts were then able to digitally modify his head, so to remove his nose and to accentuate his reptilian appearance and livid complexion. Despite all this work done in post-production, the actor however spent some time on makeup to get as close as possible to the physique of his character with a shaved head, a sunken and blushed look. A multi-step process that allowed the creation of a wizard that traumatized an entire generation.
Actor Bill Nighy in Pirates of the Caribbean
With its terrifying sea creatures, Pirates of the Caribbean: Secret of the Cursed Chest surprised viewers with particularly neat special effects. Among the most impressive characters was the famous Davy Jones, played by an absolutely unrecognizable Bill Nighy. Again, the British comedian had to shoot all his scenes wearing sensors on his face and a gray jumpsuit, but was still able to avoid green screens.
For the most part, the actor was able to play directly with his partners on the boats and enjoy real sets. Once all his movements and expressions were recorded, his physical appearance was completely reworked on the computer in order to change him into a humanoid octopus. Even her eyes have been touched up to maintain consistency of texture and wetness. Extremely convincing, the result conquered both the public and the critics and the film won the Oscar for best visual effects in 2007.
Sam Worthington in the movie Avatar
If there is a film that has amazed spectators thanks to its special effects, it is Avatar ! Released in 2009, James Cameron’s feature film depicted the planet Pandora populated by inhabitants called Na’vis. Sam Worthington then played a former Marine in charge of infiltrating the indigenous people by undergoing a radical physical transformation. To illustrate his metamorphosis and make his avatar recognizable, the director had the actor wear a motion capture suit, in order to capture his gestures and expressions before digitally modifying his appearance. The end result is such that, even in the skin of his Na’vi character, Jake Sully retains certain similar traits, which makes it easy to recognize him. An exemplary work of precision which was rewarded at the 2010 Oscars.
Brad Pitt- The strange story of Benjamin Button
Film highlight of the career of brad pitt, The strange story of Benjamin Button recounts the life of a man born old, who becomes younger as the years pass. Requiring to show the evolution of the character on the screen, the project then discouraged many filmmakers before David Fincher decided to take up the challenge. And if the latter first thought of using several actors, including Robert Redford, to play the hero at different times, he finally settled on the idea that Brad Pitt would play Benjamin Button throughout the film.
Aged 45 at the time, the actor therefore lent himself to various techniques of rejuvenation and aging during filming. To camp the character at the beginning of his life in particular, the actor was made up with a transparent powder, which made it possible to bring out the 3D of his face in order to capture all his expressions with a contour camera. Subsequently, his head was added on the body of other smaller actors, even his own once his character reached adult size. The rest of the time, Brad Pitt spent more than five hours in makeup to change his age.
Actor Mark Ruffalo in the film avengers
If it happens that fantastic creatures are created from scratch, Marvel has chosen to give life to a particularly human Hulk and, above all, in perfect harmony with Bruce Banner. As a result, the motion capture technique was used to capture the expressions of actor Mark Ruffalo in order to graft them onto the face of the green giant. A way to allow the actor to embody the two facets of the character, whether it is the shy scientist or the angry superhero.
Jamel Debbouze – Why didn’t I eat my father
Animated film directed by Jamel Debbouze, Why didn’t I eat my father was filmed in motion capture. The actors shot with special equipment, so that their characters were retouched by computer. Edouard, the simian portrayed by Jamel Debbouze thus retains the same features as his interpreter, although his appearance is redefined in a coarser animation style. Thanks to this technique, the film crew was even able to use the face of Louis de Funès, who died in 1983, to bring Vladimir to life.
Helena Bonham Carter- Alice in Wonderland
Revisited by Tim Burton in 2010, Alice in Wonderland features a brand new red queen with a huge head. Played by Helena Bonham Carter, the latter is indeed decked out with a huge skull which rests on her small silhouette. To give this impression of deformation, the director used a special camera capable of magnifying the elements it films. Enough to prevent Helena Bonham Carter from playing with a motion capture suit and allow her to dive into her role with makeup only.
Actor Will Smith in the film Aladdin
Returned to the screens in 2019 with Guy Ritchie’s live action version, Aladdin has therefore offered itself a new genius. Difficult nevertheless to replace the essential Robin Williams and to make forget his interpretation of the magic creature in the animated film of 1992… but the challenge did not frighten Will Smith. The actor therefore seized the role with his legendary humor by adopting a look relatively similar to that of the animated character. Blue skin and floating body, the images of the actor have therefore been reworked on the computer to give him a magical and supernatural aura.