Paul Engelen

Paul Engelen
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Interview Date(s): 
29 Dec 2003
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Interview notes


[Transcribed from Joyce Robinson’s handwritten notes]


Born October 1949, Walton-on-Thames: ‘pushed’ by local secondary school art teacher towards Twickenham Art College to study graphic arts; ‘forced’ by fellow student’s dad to help out in make up department on “Oliver!” (Shepperton). Then invited onto Alfred The Great, in Iceland. Worked for Stewart Freeban ? and others for 7 or 8 years. Paul describes skills involved in making beards and sources of material. Comments on computers being a considerable help in designing make-up to be sent to directors wherever they may be. He discusses working with prosthetics (in particular Nicole Kidman’s nose in The Hours). Digital cameras are also a great help in immediate viewing, when rushes are delayed. Paul describes problems of ‘flipping over’ when actors have talked to the wrong side of camera (bruises etc on missing side).

He talks of awful hours [?] and earlier than ever starts and problems with 2000+ crowd scenes (the front 500 were concentrated on). On Troy, recently, for example, 20 hairdressers and 20 make-up artists were needed “There is more specialisation now”. Early make-up practitioners had to study all the skills of wigs, beards etc.

Paul worked on Get Carter; Gold (with Roger Moore), who took him on ten films: Moonraker; The Spy Who Loved Me; and others. He worked on Shout at the Devil, in South Africa; and with Warren Beatty on Reds (14 weeks became 45 weeks work, and why.) Then came Ragtime, with a ‘wobbly’ James Cagney; Victor Victoria; and Pink Floyd, The Wall. Remarks: Alan Parker is an “impressive director” on Superman III; Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (a BAFTA winner: 10 nominations). Stewart Freeban developed foam? as a medium; The Bounty and problems of rushes on location (video now a great help). Paul talks of Little Drummer Girl; The Emerald Forest, on which he nearly lost his entire family. Revolution; Little Shop of Horrors; The Sicilian; Empire of the Sun – Spielberg “most effective of all directors.”; A Fish Called Wanda (comments on unions losing their influence); Casualties of War; Batman (BAFTA nominated); The Sheltering Sky; White Hunter Black Heart; Highlander II: The Quickening; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (mentions new realistic wounds).



Paul Engelen is an Oscar-nominated British makeup artist who has worked on dozens of major motion pictures including Empire of the Sun,Batman, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Gladiator, Troy,Kingdom of Heaven, Prince Caspian, and Robin Hood. He has  also worked as  makeup designer on the tv series Game of Thrones.