Darkman's Punishing Makeup Process Meant Little Sleep For Liam Neeson

by 24USATVJune 23, 2022, 10 a.m. 16
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While Sam Raimi's rambunctious 1990 film "Darkman" is often categorized as a superhero film — it plays more or less like a comic book origin story — it has just as much in common with a Universal monster movie. That's fitting, since "Darkman" is a Universal picture. In it, Liam Neeson plays a doctor who has discovered a way to construct synthetic skin, with the caveat that the skin will degrade when exposed to light. Thanks to some elaborate political malfeasance, he is attacked by a team of gangsters, is hideously burned and scarred, and left for dead. He will eventually awaken in the hospital, unidentified because of his facial scars, and set up an elaborate plan of revenge. In true Raimi fashion, "Darkman" is wildly energetic, features many scenes of cartoonishly ghoulish violence, and will end with a cameo from Bruce Campbell.

It also featured some rather extensive "monster" makeup on Neeson, whose face had to be three-quarters "removed." Darkman sported a pair of bone-exposed hands, red pulpy facial flesh, and no lips, leaving his teeth constantly bared (that Darkman can pronounce words without much difficulty is simply a matter of suspension of disbelief). In order to get into the elaborate gore makeup (which was designed by Rick Baker and Stan Winston acolyte Tony Gardner), Neeson had to initially start his day with five hours in the makeup chair. This was at a time when Neeson was also in the middle of boxing training for a film to be shot after "Darkman." Needless to say, the actor was tired.

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