The Make-up Industry lost a giant this week, with the passing of Stuart Freeborn.
Over a 60 year career, he created an amazing array of memorable characters. I won’t go into a breakdown of his career accomplishments here. There are many other sites that have already covered it much better than I could. What I will say is that while he worked on a huge variety of feature films, it was his contributions to the a little film series called “Star Wars”, in particular the creation of it’s most famous Jedi, that had the greatest impact on me. As I have stated before, “Star Wars” cemented my desire to work in Special Effects. It seemed like every magazine on the subject always had a picture of Stuart, or his wife or son, brushing out Chewbacca’s coat or doing touch ups on his mask.
Even though they may have been staged publicity shots, I always loved the way Stuart would always be shown in the lab, wearing a nice dress shirt and cravat under a beige Artist’s smock. My favorite of all those “in progress” shots shows Stuart working on a sculpture of Yoda’s head. What makes it special for me is that, in addition to his usual professional attire, he is also wearing a “Superman” watch. It’s a nice, whimsical touch.
In honor of his passing, I thought I might paint up my own take on that moment of film history.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Freeborn. Thank you for all the inspiration.