Stan Winston, Discusses Skinwalkers, Iron Man, Indy 4, Avatar and more with Michelle Alexandria!

Stan Winston Talks Iron Man, Indy 4, Skinwalkers and more with EclipseMagazine.comThe legendary Stan Winston is one of those Hollywood people that we love to interview at EclipseMagazine, you may not know his name but you certainly know his work, he is a Wizard at Special Effects make-up. He’s responsible for some of the most iconic character designs in the history of film. He designed the look of Terminators, Aliens, Predators, The Wiz, Edward Scissorhands, and now Skinwalkers (which opens Friday, August 10, 2007). He was at last week’s comic-con promoting his brand new coffee table book The Winston Effect: The Art & History of Stan Winston Studio, we caught up with him in LA last week and he dishes dirt on his work for the upcoming Iron Man film, which he’s especially proud of and his work in the Werewolf horror flick Skin Walkers. He’s one of those people who if you ask 1 question he will give you a 10 minute answer.

[b]So what was Comic-Con like for you?[/b]

Comic-Con is always cool and it gets better every year. This year was especially unique for me, because I was there doing a book signing for my book that was released this year, called The Winston Effect: The Art & History of Stan Winston Studio, then doing signings for Skinwalkers and the unveiling of Iron Man. I’m very proud of this film, if people are expecting to see Underworld, then they will be disappointed. This film is very different and is about characters.

[b]What were the challenges of doing this film?[/b]

The challenge is that this was something that I’ve actually wanted to do for a long time, since I was younger which was to do my Werewolf. I’ve been a werewolf fan since I was 12 years old. I loved the old Universal classics. I’ve been turned on [Waiter interrupts to give him a drink]… beer and lots of it. [Everyone laughs]. I was always turned on to the actors who played the parts. I was always turned on by the actors who played the parts, that’s why I came out to California to be an actor. I’ve always been interested in actors who play the beasts within. Spenser Tracey who was in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was brilliant.

I loved the werewolf story of the beast within because visually they were the more exciting beast within. With werewolves more of the beast was physical but it was always about people and the characters. I’m not a special fx guy, I like to create characters and I use FX where ever necessary. Lately werewolves have gotten away from that. Not that I have anything against Underworld, but this isn’t Underworld.

[img]http://www.lunerouge.org/sfx/biblio/couv22.jpg[/img]
[b]How would you distinguish your Werewolves from Underworld?[/b]

This is about the actors and their performance. It was very important for me that you were aware of the actor, whether he was in human or Skinwalker form. That you were aware of him at all times. This is an actor’s performance these are the characters who were hired to perform it from start to finish.

Now it doesn’t mean I didn’t throw every trick of the book at it. I used a lot of make-up and digital effects in it. You just can’t see them, they’re invisible. When you look at you say, ok, the actors did a great job, cool Skinwalkers, cool characters, you’ve never seen anything like it. That’s movie magic. These characters could not be done in the days of Spencer Tracey. If you walk out of this film saying “Cool Skinwalkers,” then we win.

In this film you see the joy of Jason Behr’s character loving the fact that he’s a werewolf. Because the actors bring it out. You see Natassia Malthe being really pissed off at being a werewolf, you wouldn’t want to be around her in the film or on the set.

What can you tell us about creating the armor for Iron Man?

Iron Man was simply about being legitimate. Iron Man was about having respect for the Comic Book. Loving the Comic Book and wanting to see Iron Man represented on film. I can’t tell you, I have not been so pleased with stuff that’s come out of the studio since Jurassic Park, Aliens, Predator.

It’s a guy in a suit. But the suit is stunning [Stan’s eyes literally light up when he’s talking about his creation], it’s BEAUTIFUL. I’m not talking about the Mark 1, I’m talking about when we get down to the clean ass Iron Man. You get a great performance from Robert Downey Jr., great director Jon Favreau and we just created a Rocking Suit. It’s the comic book come brought to life and it looks real. There’s not one ounce of me varying from the Comic Book design. It’s taking the design, being strapped to it and making it work. And we did.


[b]Can you talk about the challenges of creating the Mark 1, Mark 3, War Machine and all the different things that is going to be in the movie?[/b]

It’s all the same. The concept is to be legitimate and faithful to the comic book and designs to bring them to life. Those challenges are more artistic and not technical. It is how does this really look if it was alive. The challenge is always about art, the technical aspects are down the line. We wouldn’t have been able to do this 15 years old ago, we didn’t have the technology then. And it wasn’t about the suit it was about designing the suit. We were able to design this suit so beautifully and perfectly because we used computers to help us design.

We didn’t have that perfection when we did the Terminators they were hand sculpted. The original Terminator was not a perfect machine. You put the original Terminator against the TX it’s not perfect. We used computers for that. Iron Man is designed the same way. It is a design that artist using today’s tool can create perfection.

[b]What type of material is the suit made out of?[/b]

We used fiber glass, some things that are metal, and plastic.

[b]What can you tell us about The Suffering, Jurassic Park IV and Speed Demon?[/b]

We’re working on getting the script to the Suffering to go. We designed the characters for the game. And for Speed Demon, the script is in place, we have a director, and we’re now casting. I’ve heard so many rumors about Jurassic Park I don’t have a clue which one is right.

[b]What else are you working on?[/b]

We’re working on Indy 3, Jim Cameron’s movie Avatar – we’ve designed all the creatures – which I can’t talk to you about, we just finished Iron Man, releasing Skinwalkers, and another film from the same company, other than that we’re not doing anything. [laughs]

[b]How did you get involved with this film?[/b]

I told my head of production to find me a good werewolf script. I read the script for Skinwalkers about 4 1/2 years ago and it was the best werewolf story that I’ve ever read. It was about people, it was about human beings; real people in a small town dealing with real issues, interesting characters dealing with an affliction. We all have a dark side, but we’re able to control it because our good side is stronger. Good always win. These people don’t have that choice, when the full moon comes their evil side is going to come out your only choice is to let it come out and enjoy it, or prevent yourself from enjoying it.

It was such an interesting concept to me, that’s why the good half of Skinwalkers strap themselves in and the other half wants to just enjoy it. Nobody enjoys it more than Jason he really enjoyed being werewolf.

My concern is that the audience gets what they expect, it’s not a hard R, there’s not a lot of blood and guts, its PG-13 violence, got some scary moments, it’s not a hard core horror film, it’s not Underworld and it’s about people.

[b]Skinwalkers opens Friday, August 10, 2007[/b]

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EM Feature Story by
Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 8/5/07

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