‘Deadpool’: Makeup Designer Bill Corso on Comics Influence and Making Ryan Reynolds Ugly

     March 4, 2016


With director Tim Miller’s Deadpool still kicking ass and taking names at the worldwide box office, it’s time to post my last interview for the film: Academy Award-winning makeup designer Bill Corso. If you’re not familiar with his name, Corso has worked on over 70 films like Galaxy QuestJohn CarterJackass: The MovieFoxcatcher, and The Amazing Spider-Man. In Deadpool, Corso designed the way Reynolds would look after his disfigurement as well as the design for all the other characters.

During a group interview conducted on set along with a few other reporters, Corso talked about his process for designing the characters, what he wanted to take from the comics, working with both Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds, and a lot more. If you’re curious about the makeup in Deadpool you’ll enjoy reading what he had to say.

Question: What type of challenges did you face with the makeup, did you get inspired a lot by the comic?


Image via 20th Century Fox

BILL CORSO: Well, yeah. I mean, it was a big deal of concern with the studio and with Tim [Miller] and Ryan [Reynolds] that Deadpool try to be as true to the comic. But that being said, there’s two side of it: You got the fans who obviously want Deadpool as he is portrayed in the comics, which is you research the comics as much as I have, he’s everything from a rotten corpse to a guy with a couple of lines on his face, so there’s a lot of leeway. But you have a studio who wants to make sure that you see their leading man and he still has to be somewhat attractive to the opposite sex [Laughs], which I think was one of the reasons that I was brought in as opposed to a lot of other people, trying to find that line of something that’s gonna appeal to the script where he’s referred to as horrific, disfigured, and yet you look at him and he’s still kind of charming and iconic, because we’re creating a new character for the Marvel universe that hopefully is just not Freddy Krueger, which basically is what he’s drawn like most of the time. My first look at him was like, “Oh my God. I just don’t wanna do a Freddy Krueger guy” because first of all that’s been done well, and been redone a million times, and there’s only so many ways that you can do a scarred guy. And he’s not really burned, he’s not a burn victim, he’s a guy who’s been disfigured by this which is why I guess they get away with drawing him so many different ways.

So we did a lot of tests, conceptually we did, I did one Photoshop and I realized, “That’s Ryan Reynolds with scars on his face” which I don’t think is what this should be, it’s got to be a character, it’s got to be a really cool, iconic, guy when the mask comes off as iconic as the mask, he’s got to look bitching, I think from a makeup perspective. So we did a lot of tests, I did a bunch of makeup tests, full-blown tests from just one end of the spectrum to the other, you know, subtle scars to more deformed. I referenced like Sin City and even some old iconic-looking characters that have a really strong sense of personality. I kind of took Ryan and I just kind of amped him up, so it’s more interesting to look at. So we went back and forth with the studio, we refined the tests and we brought Ryan in finally and we did multiple tests on him, and literally just kind of playing with stuff on the side that looked kind of cool, pursuing that. So eventually I think what we wound up with is something really cool and I think that everybody will be happy with it.


Image via Ryan Reynolds

Some little images that have leaked out online certainly don’t do it justice, that’s the good news about when people get a glimpse of something they’re like, “Oh that’s what it is” it’s like, “No, no, no. You gotta wait until you see it in context in the way that it’s meant to be seen” and I think it’s gonna be really neat. And I’m sure some people will say, “Oh it’s just Ryan Reynolds with scars” but there’s a lot more to it than that, and from a makeup perspective, for me, it’s cool because I got a leading man who we do see as a good-looking leading man in the movie. Because it is an origin story so we get to see what he looks like handsome and then we get to see him getting killed and dying and not looking so great, so he has many transitions. Even as Deadpool we actually get to play with many looks within what he is. So it’s fun, this particular character has given me a lot to do, and there’s one particular sequence where it’s full-blown, we see a lot more of him than we would ever want to see [Laughs]. So it’s neat, it’s quite challenging.

What about the rest of the characters?

CORSO: The rest of them are pretty simple. Tim wanted to keep it really grounded, the look for this movie is not really fantasy, he wanted to keep a pretty realistic look for everybody. We started to reference the comics for some of the stuff, the illustrations, Gina Carano who plays Angel Dust came in guns blazing, she was so excited because her character’s always drawn with yellow eyes and she had made these big beautiful yellow contact lenses and it was like, “Wow that awesome! But that’s a different movie” [Laughs] she just looked like she was in a Twilight movie, but we made her really cool lenses that actually look really neat and do change her look. So we do little things like that trying to come up with, again, it’s all about silhouettes. But a lot of in is vin design a lot of it is silhouettes, [Steven] Spielberg says, “If you can recognize a character, you can recognize a character by its silhouette”. So we tried to come up with like a silhouette of somebody or something unique for each character, so we came up with those great hairstyles for Gina which works for her fighting.


Image via 20th Century Fox

Because you gotta factor in these guys are doing a lot of stunts, there are gonna be CG doubles of these characters, so as cool as a character is in the comic book with hair flowing and it looks awesome. I worked on one of the X-Men movies on one of the characters who, again, is always drawn with this beautiful flaming, amazing hair but when you try to do that in the movie, plus it’s CG hair it’s never gonna look like that. I think –who was it? Somebody posted a picture online of a cool character with this amazing thing but in reality it would’ve just been a sweat ball. So you gotta take all those things into consideration and for Gina we came up with, you’ve probably seen her, and she has a couple of different looks in the movie. I love to change people up so nobody’s stuck in one particular look, and we have a little bit of time passage in the movie so we get like some aging to do on some of the characters. Ed [Skrein], our bad guy who plays Ajax, you get to see him younger and more healthy-looking, he goes off to prison for a while and comes out looking quite worse. So those are little fun things that we get to do. But Ryan for sure is the linechair of the work.

In the comics Copycat is blue, is she blue in the movie?

CORSO: [Laughs] No. There is a little easter egg, we throw a couple of easter eggs because she’s not quite copycat yet. So no, but there is a tip to that and for every guy in the audience I’m sure will not be missed.

Did Brianna [Hildebrand] come in with a shaved head and you wanted her to have short hair?


Image via Fox

CORSO: No, she actually had more hair. There was an image of her from a photoshoot that Tim, our director, had seen where her hair was cut like that and just loved it, so that’s the look we went with. There’s a fear too, everybody came in and everybody had a buzzed head, all the girls want black heavy eyeliner, everybody starts looking the same, every guy wants stubble, it’s like, “God, man!” Things nobody would ever think about but of course it keeps me up at night, stupid things that the audience would never see. So you try to work and come up with something new.

Did it create challenges since it’s an R rating?

CORSO: No. Thankfully it is an R rating. But lately PG movies have been getting pretty broad, I’ve done a lot of PG movies recently and I haven’t had to hold back. Gladly we’re embracing the R and having a lot of fun with it, so it’s refreshing to see not being able to hold back and to let them fly off with profanity or references or stuff that’s really fun. But as far as makeup goes on the blood and the gore and everything, of which ironically is not as much as there could be, it’s all portrayed pretty realistically. I’ve just seen Kingsmen, which I love, but it’s very stylistic, this is the complete opposite of that, this is portrayed very real. Also Tim’s not dwelling on any blood, gut stuff. Deadpool does some really graphic stuff to people but it’s all quick and it doesn’t linger on them either, it’s much more about how he does things and how he’s dealing away and flipping on them.

Is there anything else that you wanted to touch on?

CORSO: For fans, again, I think that everybody will be happy. Because I’m a fan and it’s great to see Tim as a big fan. We’re referencing other mutants, we can kind of sneak in a couple of references to other mutants and show glimpses of other mutants and I don’t know if you guys know this, but the way that the studios. You know you got Marvel and Disney, Fox, and Sony and they all have the collection of what they can use, so we have a list of all the mutants Fox has access to. So we kind of pulled a couple and we’re kind of sneaking them in for glimpses, and that’s kind of fun. The thing about Tim is that he can reference any mutant instantly, he knows who they are and what they do, which is amazing to me, it’s like, I’m kind of a fan but I can’t do that, he’s an encyclopedia. So he’s a fan, and he’s one of these guys that even though he comes from a VFX background. And I come from a special creature background and I’ve gotten more into regular makeup, it’s great for a project like this where you can do a little bit of both. But it’s amazing how many people I’ve talked to that say how great Tim is and how knowledgeable he is and how he’s gonna kill this movie, this is from people in the industry who I respect. So it’s very exciting, it’s a fun, great project.


Image via 20th Century Fox


Image via 20th Century Fox


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