The other week we got the incredible opportunity to speak with the makeup designer Doug Morrow, for his work on Orphan: First Kill, including deaging techniques used on Isabelle Fuhrman as well as working with Julia Stiles. Read the interview below, Orphan: First Kill is currently streaming on Paramount Plus.
AJ: How did you get involved with Orphan: First Kill
Doug: I got an email from the director who wanted to use Isabelle Fuhrman for the movie, and wanted me to come up with an interesting idea and to be involved in the prosthetics.
AJ: How did the concept of de-aging come about for the film?
Doug: I got a proof of concept test with a local actress with prosthetics trying to make her look 25 years younger. It was, you know, at the time, just over 10 years younger. So it’s not like she was 50 and had a lot of big facial structural changes and wrinkles and, what not. It was really just trying to make her face look a little more rounded. And luckily, you know, Isabelle is very beautiful. I used just standard beauty techniques, a lot of highlight and shadow painting to make her look as rounded and as youthful as I could, which was very easy, again, because Isabelle looks great
We gave her dentures to make her teeth look a little younger. Brent had a great idea of giving her contact lenses because when you’re little, your eyeballs are the size they’re gonna be for your whole life. That’s why little kids look like they have such big eyes. So we grow into our eyes. So what we did was we gave her contact lenses that made the irises look bigger to give the effect that her eyes were larger than the they were, which was a great touch. And then with using lighting, highlight and shadow, um, camera angles, it really just everything we did just really sold it, that she was still 10 years old.
AJ: Right. And, you know, the orphan, the first one has such a huge following. So whenever a sequel is announced, there’s always kind that, I don’t know, like optimism of skepticism to it, I should say, because you’re like, okay, we can have an idea, but if it’s too campy or not sure what it wants to be, then it can go horribly wrong. But I guess when you got to work on this, with Brent, were there ideas he gave to you when he was talking about makeup ideas or however he got you involved? How did those conversations go on set? If there were any?
Doug: Brent, he’s such a great collaborator to work with. And he had total trust in what I was doing, and it was a big collaboration between Brent, Isabelle, Karee DOP and myself, in terms of trying to get this look right. It was very scary because the original movie was such a huge hit and has a great following that you don’t wanna mess that up. So I felt quite a bit of pressure, mainly because in the end we boil it down to, yes, we can use Isabelle. And I guess I had a lot of input in that. So there was a lot of pressure to make sure that I did everything I could to make it work.
AJ: So as the makeup artist, did you just mainly work with Isabelle, or did you work with the whole cast as well on this?
Doug: I’m the makeup department head/effects person on shows.
Doug: I wanted to make sure that Julia Stiles was looked after. So I had my key makeup artist deal pretty much with her, which I know, Julia appreciated and they get along great. Then I looked after Isabelle primarily, but I also looked after Rossif Sutherland and then, you know, all the rest of the day players, wasn’t a huge cast. We just kind of split them up and what not, but then, the main look was, of course, Isabelle.
AJ: right. And you know, the landscape of movies now is so different with how you can consume them because paramount released this in theaters and also on paramount plus. So how does that feel to you, from people to be able to see it in theaters and at home, if they feel safer viewing it at home, there’s just a whole, another niche of people that can watch this? So how do you feel about that when you’re like a lot more people can watch it that way and can get to see how much you’ve worked on this film as well?
Doug: Oh, yeah, it’s great. And I understand, you know, still in the climate that we’re living in with, COVID, people wanting to stay home and still be able to see movies first run. So I think it’s a great thing, you know, now I’m from the generation where, you know, going to the theater when you’re a kid was a huge deal
AJ: Right. It was an amusement park ride. Like when you went to go see a summer blockbuster, any kind of movie, right?
Doug: Exactly. Yeah. And it still is. So of course, you wanna try and see a movie on the big screen, but understand. And I think you know, there’s just that this new kind of world that we live in, in this new kind of market of being able to see a movie first run sitting at home where you feel safe, I think is a great thing. And I think that it really expands the boundaries.
AJ: And so what was the thing that you took away the most working with Isabelle and Julia and the whole cast on orphan first kill? Cause they were all amazing. Just how, what did you take away the most from your experience on this film?
Doug: I think the thing that I took away most from working on this project was that there was a lot of pressure. I was quitting on myself because of the things that we discussed, in terms of, you know, the whole look of Isabelle and all that. When it boiled down to it, it was just a great experience. The whole cast was just lovely, lovely people. There were never any issues, with anything. We had a really good time and yeah, there was some pressure cuz we’re doing something with a beloved movie and doing a prequel to it. You don’t wanna screw that up. That was some pressure. In the end, it was a lovely experience and Brent was such a terrific director, collaborator, and just a great guy. I would do it again in a heartbeat just because of the great connections that were made. There were even days where we were just covering Isabelle and Julia with blood, and they had these big contact lenses in their eyes to make it look like blood vessels had burst in their eyes. They loved it. There was never any complaining. They look at it as a lot of fun and that made it a lot of fun for us. So, it was just a great experience all around.
Written By: AJ Friar