Rick Baker on Michael Jackson and Thriller…

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    • Rick Baker on Michael Jackson and Thriller…

      Rick Baker on Michael Jackson and Thriller…

      Every fan knows Rick Baker and his amazing work on Captain EO and THRILLER.
      During an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Rick talks about obviously Thriller…
      You couldn’t find a bigger fan of An American Werewolf in London than Michael Jackson, who was in the midst of recording what would become one of the biggest-selling albums of all time. The King of Pop used his royal power to get the Werewolf band back together, tapping Landis to direct the music video for his record’s title track and bringing Baker onboard to do the monster effects. The landmark project premiered in movie theaters on Nov. 14, 1983. It would go on to win a Grammy for Long-Form Video and three MTV Video Music Awards, be the first music video enshrined in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry, and hailed by Guinness World Records as “the most successful music video of all time.” And “Thriller“ wasn’t the only Baker-Jackson joint; the duo later collaborated again on the one-of-a-kind Disney experience, Captain EO.
      John Landis said to me, “Michael Jackson saw American Werewolf and loved it. He wants to do a music video where he wants to turn into a werewolf. I’m going to send you a cassette tape — get some ideas.” So I listen to the tape, and I thought, “I don’t see making up this pop star. He’s going to be a pain in the ass.” I was completely wrong! First of all, Michael was incredibly shy; I worked in a funky, dirty workshop full of long-haired guys, and on the day he came in to do the life mask [a mold of the person’s face to use in the makeup design process], the first thing he did was hide in the bathroom. He just went in there and acclimatized himself.
      But after that, he was great to make up. He was very patient and loved the process. Unfortunately, I found out on the day that John was going to do a making-of film, and I was like, “What are all these camera people doing here?” Now I’m thankful, because so many people come up to me and go, “The Making of ‘Thriller’ video inspired me to become a makeup artist.”
      Early on, I decided that Michael shouldn’t be a werewolf; I said he should be more feline, and made him more of a fantasy cat creature thing. The scariest thing for me in that experience was the size of it, and the [limited] amount of time that we had. I said to John, “I’m assuming you’re going to cast these dancers immediately because it takes us time to do the life masks and all that stuff,” and he goes, “Eh?”
      The dancers were cast three days before filming, so I couldn’t do the makeup the right way. I had some generic things that I could use, but I felt we should have cooler stuff. My crew and I all have our own life masks already, so I told John, “How about if we have zombies featured more, and it’s me and my crew?” So the zombies that come out of the graves are my crew and my friends, while the dancers are generic pieces that we made [quickly]. It was like, “These are your teeth, and you’re going to be this color.”
      Michael and I became fairly close after “Thriller.” He came to my house a couple of times to watch movies and have dinner, and I went to his place with my wife to have dinner with Michael and Bubbles the chimp. And Michael actually dedicated a song to me! It’s called “Threatened,” and I think he was trying to make it another “Thriller,” because they cut in a Rod Serling rap. He dedicated the song to me, and then said, “I want to do a video of this song, and I want you to direct it.” I was like, “Uhhhh…”

      SOURCE: Yahoo Entertainment