“For the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, I talked to a man who knows a thing or two about that: Jerome Blake, who played no fewer than seven characters in the prequels.
The British actor remembers being “shell-shocked” when he first saw “Star Wars” in 1977 at the Broad Beach Shopping Center in Bristol. He saw it three times. So 20 years later, when makeup maestro Nick Dudman, with whom Blake had worked on 1997’s “The Fifth Element”, asked if he wanted to be in a new Star Wars film, the answer was obvious.
In “The Fifth Element”, Blake climbed inside a hulking alien Mondoshawan suit, which meant he was used to not being seen on screen. That was the case for “The Phantom Menace”, which called for many characters created from layers of makeup and prosthetics.
As preproduction raced toward the film’s 1999 release, Dudman and his team began by making a cast of Blake’s head to sculpt the necessary prosthetics. Blake soon became the go-to guy for donning rubber masks and becoming whichever characters were required: he played seven roles in “The Phantom Menace,” reprising some of them for “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” too. […]
Blake did secure several roles that required increasingly outlandish new faces. The hirsute Jedi Oppo Rancisis was surprisingly easy to assemble, as Blake simply donned a swimming cap covered in hair. But he had to sit for five hours in the makeup chair to transform into Orn Free Taa, a corpulent Twi’lek senator with a large floppy-eared look. After seeing the film for the first time, Blake bumped into makeup artist Mark Coulier, who made the prosthetic pieces (and also appeared in the film as a different alien).
“It’s a rum thing, isn’t it?” Blake said to Coulier. “Five hours of makeup for two seconds on the screen.”
Coulier replied, “Never mind five hours. It took me three months to make all the latex pieces.”
The prequel trilogy spanned a period in which computer-generated imagery began to seriously replace practical effects, with George Lucas’ movies at the cutting edge of digital trickery. In “The Phantom Menace,” the character of Jar Jar Binks and the vistas of Naboo and Coruscant were conjured digitally, but there were still plenty of physical sets and characters created with practical makeup.
“By and large, ‘Phantom Menace’ was quite a traditional type of filmmaking,” recalls Blake. “The sets were there — there really was a Galactic Senate with pods in it.”
But Blake witnessed the shift to digital firsthand. One of his characters, Mas Amedda, a lackey of the soon-to-be emperor, appeared in the Galactic Senate scenes in the first and last films in the trilogy. “Progressively you found yourself dealing with more and more green-screen material and less people,” Blake says. “By the time they got to do my bits on ‘Revenge of the Sith’ there was nothing there, it was just completely green-screened.”
Blake describes shooting as “a very calm process” with few problems rearing their head. “By the time [Lucas] got around to making those movies he had the best of everything — the best heads of department, best crew, everyone at the top of their game.” […]
Read the whole article at CNET.
“Jerome Blake played Mas Amedda in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith. He also played Oppo Rancisis in Episode I and II, and Rune Haako, Mik Regrap, Horox Ryyder, and Orn Free Taa in Episode I.”
Source : Wookieepedia