Being Human: How To Make A Werewolf
Russell Tovey is a transformed man in season three.
First up, Rob Mayor of Millennium FX, the prosthetics specialists who’ve made a menagerie of monsters for Doctor Who…
SFX: The werewolf transformations don’t take all that long on screen, but there must be much more work that goes into them. How long does the job take you?
Because they had to go through three distinct looks, the actors had to be in exceptionally early, it would take a whole day to shoot one transformation scene. Sometimes taking the make-up off takes as long as it does to glue on, but the guys were really patient.
SFX: How much of the transformation is performed by the actor, and how much is dummies or stunt doubles?
We had a life cast of Russell Tovey’s [the now deceased George] head. There was a rig on the inside that would push his muzzle out so it makes him look like his nose and chin are extending. Then they would cut away to the back or foot, then cut back to his stage two dummy rig which was more wolf-like but carries on where the other rig left off. The next jump would then be to the full werewolf suit, which was played by a guy called Paul Kasey. Adding all this together it made more of a continuous flow of transformation.
SFX: How have the transformations changed over the course of the four series of Being Human?
From the earliest series we had a extending nail rig, which was operated by cable that would glue to the back of the hand, then you’d shoot the palm and see the nails extend from their fingertips. We had a chest appliance for Russell that had a rig-shaped bladder underneath, an appliance that went over his entire chest. Underneath were balloons that were custom made so that when they inflated they were the shape of ribs.
We found the best and safest way to inflate these rigs was colostomy bags because they’ve got this great one-way valve system. Obviously we’d buy them new from a medical supplier! You could inflate them one end so they would stay inflated and there was a valve on the other end and we would put some tube connectors on, so you get the impression of the ribs poking out.
Nina had a stage one rig built for her as well that had the burn on her chest, that was all incorporated as well. We built a full chest appliance for her as well, so her ribs would extend down to her waist all the way up to her neck.
It can all be mixed and matched around so that they didn’t end up repeating themselves every time they did a transformation scene.
SFX: Baby Eve has werewolf DNA. Did you ever think about what you’d do if it turned out she could transform?
There were discussions about the logistics of transforming a werewolf baby, we’ll see if they decide to do that or not, but it would be a cool thing to do. It would have to be a complete fake baby. I mean there’s laws against gluing appliances on babies, and rightly so!
SFX: Did any previous werewolf transformations in movies and TV influence your work on Being Human?
I think everyone as a prosthetic artist was blown away by the American Werewolf In London transformation. They didn’t hide anything at all. That has been an influence for nearly all werewolf transformations since then. We tried not to copy that, but I think you can’t but help to be influenced by work you admire. When we were first in the meetings of Being Human, from the production side that certainly came up as a key reference point. Also the transformations for The Howling. The Howling transformations were darker and more disturbing, playing a lot on what you didn’t see. We tried to strike up a mix between the two.
Look over the page for our interview with make-up supremo Helen Tucker…