Five facts about the werewolf makeup used in the movie.
WARNING! CONTAINS SPOILERS!
1. Rather than a film about somebody who changes into a werewolf during the full moon. The werewolf as it appears in this movie, is more less meant to represent man’s primitive side. The idea is it Will Randall (Jack Nicholson), changes every single night until the night of the first full moon. When the wolf spirit finally consumes his rational, human half. Because this character was going through such a gradual transformation throughout the film, the makeup used on him was extraordinarily simple. Simply being; yellow contact lenses, long sideburns along Nicholson’s face, pointed ears, fangs, and claws. Make up artist Rick Baker compared to the werewolf make up used in the 1935 film “Werewolf of London”. With the makeup gradually getting more and more extreme as the character continues to transform.
2. With his newfound wolf senses, the physical features of the character Randall would gradually at least appear to be getting a little bit younger after each transformation. For example one feature that is extremely noticeable throughout the film, is that the hair on his head is getting thicker. In the beginning of the film, Nicholson sports his traditional thin hair. Towards middle of the film the makeup department put powder in his hair to make it look like it was thicker. And then by the final third of the movie, Nicholson actually had to wear a toupee to further give the illusion that his character was getting some sort of youthful vitality back. Baker suggested that they actually use special wire to pull back Nicholson’s face to take some of the wrinkles out of it to give his face a kind of youthful appearance. To which Jack Nicholson smiled and replied “Absolutely not”.
3. Jack Nicholson had a severe allergic reaction to the spirit gum traditionally used to stick fake hair on people. So Rick Baker had to use a special medical adhesive before applying Nicholson’s make up. But one day Baker had accidentally misplaced the medical adhesive and gave the actual spirit gum to Nicholson. The next day Nicholson came on said he had large red welts on his face.
4. For the scene where Randall hears everybody in his office building with his newfound wolf senses, Baker strapped a couple of electrodes to the back of Jack Nicholson’s ears. And then remotely made his ears twitch to give an almost canine look to his face as his ears moved to the sounds he was receiving.
5. James Spader’s werewolf make up took a little bit longer than Jack Nicholson’s. When Spader inquired Rick Baker about this, Baker explained that Spader’s face needed more work because his face wasn’t as “animated” as Jack Nicholson’s face was. And later explain that if he just gave him the hair, the fangs, the contact lens, and the pointed ears without doing the additions to his face, Spader would’ve come out looking like “Eddie Munster”.