Special Effects Legend Rick Baker is Retiring After 40 Years in Movies
Legendary special effects and make-up artist Rick Baker has officially announced his retirement. This news is real “end of an era” stuff, so if the serious film buff in your life seems pretty bummed out today, you know why. The only silver lining to this news is that Baker is auctioning off his personal collection of over 400 costumes and prosthetics, giving movie fans with disposable income a chance to own a piece of movie history.
Baker revealed that he was stepping away from the film industry in an interview with the radio station 89.3 KPCC (via EW). His reasoning is entirely understandable and it’s probably going to grind your gears in a pretty serious way:
I said the time is right, I am 64 years old, and the business is crazy right now. I like to do things right, and they wanted cheap and fast. That is not what I want to do, so I just decided it is basically time to get out.
It’s no secret that Baker encountered considerable resistance on the set of 2011’s The Wolfman, where his practical transformation effects went unused in favor CGI. (Baker still won his seventh and final Academy Award for the film. Go figure.) Baker’s last major studio project was last year’s Maleficent, where his work was just a tiny drop in the middle of a massive pile of computer effects.
And while there’s nothing wrong with CGI (blame the artist, not the tool), Baker’s work has always been, for lack of a better term, magical. He won the first ever Best Make-Up Oscar for his groundbreaking work in An American Werewolf in London, but his career went far beyond monster movies. He transformed Eddie Murphy into an entire family in The Nutty Professor. He brought Dr. Seuss illustrations to life with How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He created all of those varied aliens for Men in Black. Even his more subtle work, like transforming Martin Landau into Bela Lugosi for Ed Wood, is nothing short of extraordinary.
Hell, he designed the zombie make-up for Michael Jackson in Thriller. You don’t get more iconic than that.
Baker’s collection will go up for auction on May 29, through The Prop Store. Items already on display include the title creatures from Gremlins 2: The New Batch and Harry and the Hendersons. While it’s undoubtedly cool that fans will soon be able to own such incredible creations, we wish it had come about another way. Don’t retire too soon, Mr. Baker. The movies need you.