Even for a beauty like Naomi Watts, makeup isn’t enough. To achieve the kind of flawless face she displays in "King Kong," you’ll need one more thing.
You’ll have to hire “Kong” cinematographer Andrew Lesnie to follow you around and flood your visage with flattering light.
“Lighting was a huge issue throughout the film," says Better. “Andrew and I were joined at the hip during filming and we worked closely with Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh doing countless camera and lighting tests to make sure that Naomi always looked beautiful, even if she was also supposed to look exhausted or tired from running through the jungle.”
]]>According to Better, Jackson really wanted his heroine to have a slight 1930s flavor (think Fay Wray) that also felt modern. A very fine line to walk. And in the early New York scenes, as well as when she’s acting onboard the ship, Watts’ makeup is noticeably heavier and more theatrical. “That’s the only time we used powder on her face,” revealed Better.
But in the jungle, less was more. Better never once powdered Watts’ nose while she was on the island. There, bruises proved more of a burden than beauty.
“Naomi did almost all her own stunts. She’s an Aussie and they’re really tough. No whimpering! So anything short of jumping off a cliff, she did. And in some scenes, particularly the ones with Kong where she gets pushed on the ground over and over, she was really hitting hard and got covered in bruises. We had to create bruises in the beginning, but by the end of shooting, we were trying to cover up or match the real ones she had.”
WETA Workshop also helped out by digitally, “smoothing stuff out,” explained Better. “When it came to mud, dirt, bruises and blood, the ongoing joke on the set was “Let WETA take care of it.” And their work is so seamless, even I couldn’t spot what they’d done.”
All that painstaking teamwork paid off. “I didn’t see the final film until the New Zealand premiere and I was very intrigued to see how the makeup looked. Peter does so many close-ups and an eyeball can often be 20 feet across. But, even though I had seen all the dailies, I got completely caught up in the film and the love story and completely forgot to watch the makeup.”
Photo Credit: Naomi Watts is cruising for a bruising with a dinosaur in "King Kong."
photo courtesy of Universal Studios