Period dramas don’t usually light up the internet while they’re in production, but Darkest Hour was a unique case due to the insane physical transformation of lead actor (and current Best Actor Oscar frontrunner) Gary Oldman. The film chronicles a testy period of time in Winston Churchill’s life, and director Joe Wright wooed Oldman to take on the challenge of filling the role. But instead of packing on the pounds and shaving his head, Oldman had another idea for physically embodying the famous British politician: makeup.
Indeed, the first images of Oldman as Churchill were released when filming on Darkest Hour began, and the world was shocked to see how uncanny the resemblance was. This was 100% due to a phenomenal makeup job, and to get the look just right, Oldman and Wright enlisted famed makeup designer and artist Kazuhiro Tsuji. Tsuji’s talents were well-known in Hollywood circles, but the designer had somewhat sworn off applying makeup himself after a traumatizing experience with Jim Carrey on 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He’d pop up here and there, notably spearheading the designs on Rian Johnson’s Looper, but Darkest Hour is Tsuji’s first film in five years, as he spent a lot of time creating his own sculptures and art.
As Tsuji and Darkest Hour are currently in the running for the Best Makeup & Hairstyling Oscar, Focus Features has released a new behind-the-scenes video that offers a fantastic look at exactly how the makeup transformation for Oldman worked. The film is the heavy frontrunner to win, and while one only needs look at the final result to see why, this video offers some intriguing insight for those curious to see how an insane design like this comes to life.
Check out the Darkest Hour behind-the-scenes video below, and look for Tsuji to take the stage on Oscar night in one short week.