Legend has it that, upon first stepping onto a Hollywood soundstage, the twentysomething neophyte filmmaker Orson Welles announced "This is the biggest toy train set a boy ever had!" Sadly, Welles was soon forced to find another playground. More than half a century later, however, a contemporary "boy wonder" like special makeup effects creator/designer Rob Bottin could make an excellent living in Hollywood by playing with toys full-time. Indeed, Bottin really was a boy, aged 14, when he first became an active participant in movie magic. His mentor, future Oscar-winner Rick Baker, may have been the best teacher a student of special makeup FX could ever hope to have. The resourceful high school freshman even got his school officials to agree--unofficially--to allow him to attend classes in the morning and work with Baker in the afternoons.
As Baker's special makeup apprentice, Bottin's first film assignment was Dino de Laurentiis' lavish (but lambasted) 1976 remake of "King Kong." Their next job was working on the colorful inebriated aliens in the celebrated cantina sequence in George Lucas' "Star Wars" (1977). The neophyte FX technician soon started Rob Bottin Productions, his own FX company, at age 18. By the time Bottin and his mentor had worked together on Brian De Palma's "The Fury" (1978), Baker decided that that his protege had progressed beyond his apprenticeship.
A job with Roger Corman's New World Pictures followed fast on the heels of Bottin's high school graduation. He received his first feature credit as special makeup effects designer and special effects designer on Joe Dante's "Piranha" (1978), a giddy spoof of "Jaws" scripted by John Sayles. Bottin and other FX and makeup artists spent a lot of time on the bottom of a swimming pool with director Dante but the experience must not have been wholly unpleasant; "Piranha" marked the beginning of his long fruitful collaboration with the quirky filmmaker. (Bottin also appeared in the film in his own makeup as a piranha victim.) He also made his TV debut as a special FX designer that year with a syndicated special entitled "Manbeast! Myth or Monster." Back on the big screen, Bottin was credited as "giant mouse creator" on New World's "Rock 'n' Roll High School" (1979), a robust spoof of 50s teen movies helmed by Allan Arkush.
Bottin first began making a name for himself on two Avco Embassy Pictures projects helmed by rising young genre filmmakers of the day: John Carpenter's "The Fog" (1980) and Joe Dante's "The Howling" (1981). He provided gruesome FX and special makeup effects for Carpenter's moody ghost story about dead sailors come home from the sea looking for vengeance. Bottin himself wore the makeup as the captain of the rotting crew. He created a special makeup FX milestone of sorts with his trendsetting werewolf transformation for "The Howling." Whereas monster movies of old would feature a face sprouting hair and prosthetics through a series of lap dissolves, this film featured a harrowingly "realistic" depiction of a man's body parts painfully elongating and changing species. Bottin's erstwhile mentor, Rick Baker, had been hired to work on werewolf effects for "The Howling" on a provisional basis during an extended stall in the production of John Landis' big-budget "An American Werewolf in London." Bottin continued working after Baker was called back to the Landis film. The low-budget effort--another collaboration between Dante, screenwriter Sayles and Bottin--beat the highly touted "American Werewolf..." to the theaters and stole some of the thunder of Baker's work in that film.
Bottin reteamed with writer-director Carpenter for his 1982 remake of "The Thing." His outlandish, over-the-top special makeup FX may be viewed as Bottin's signature work. Indeed the grisly but inspired FX threatened to overwhelm the tense narrative. He segued to a more whimsical if still macabre mode for the Dante-directed "It's A Good Life" remake segment of "Twilight Zone - The Movie" (1983). With Craig Reardon and Michael McCracken, Bottin provided some memorably cartoonish creatures that seemed inspired by the drawings of Basil Wolverton. Waxing mythological, he shared an Oscar nod for his work on Ridley Scott's breathtaking if risible fantasy "Legend" (1985). Bottin's work was better showcased in the continuing collaboration with Dante. Rob Bottin Productions received its first feature credit (for "alien creature creation") on Dante's underrated "Explorers" (1985). He also crafted "The Greibble," a cartoonish monster, for a Dante-directed segment of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories" (NBC, 1986). Spielberg also executive produced "Innerspace" with Dante at the helm and Bottin providing the FX.
Bottin also proved a valued collaborator to Dutch emigre gone Hollywood, Paul Verhoeven. He was credited with "Robocop design and creation" as well as special makeup FX on "Robocop" (1987) and retained the former credit on the sequels and the syndicated spin-off series. His work on Verhoeven's elaborate sci-fi adventure "Total Recall" (1990) won Bottin an Oscar. The creative pair worked together again on "Basic Instinct" (1992). Bottin's other assignments include George Miller's "The Witches of Eastwick" (1987), Barry Levinson's "Bugsy" (1991) and "Toys" (1992). More recently, Bottin's work was displayed at its darkest for David Fincher's stylish crime drama "Seven" (1995). He also contributed to Tom Cruise's repertoire of faces for Brian De Palma's "Mission: Impossible" (1996).
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Costume-Wardrobe (Feature Film)
Visual Effects (Feature Film)
Make-Up (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (TV Mini-Series)
Became a protege of FX makeup pioneer Rick Baker at age 14 (date approximate)
Worked with Baker as a special makeup effects apprentice on the the lavish remake of "King Kong"; deemed too young to be on the lot by MGM, ended up working in Baker's garage
Served as a special makeup apprentice on "Star Wars"; worked under Baker on the "cantina sequence"
Started his own FX company, Rob Bottin Productions, at age 18
Last film assignment as Baker's apprentice, Brian De Palma's "The Fury"
Hired by Roger Corman's New World Pictures shortly after graduating high school
Feature debut as special makeup effects designer and special effects designer, "Piranha", a Corman-produced "Jaws" rip-off for New World Pictures; first collaboration with director Joe Dante; appeared in makeup as a victim
TV debut, served as special effects designer for a syndicated special entitled "Manbeast! Myth or Monster"
Credited as "giant mouse creator" on New World's "Rock 'n' Roll High School", directed by Allan Arkush
First collaboration with writer-director John Carpenter, "The Fog"; appeared in makeup as Captain Blake, the head ghost; also provided special effects and special makeup effects
Credited as "humanoids designer" for "Humanoids from the Deep", another New World cheapie
Producing debut, served as associate producer on Dante's "The Howling"; provided breakthrough werewolf transformation effects among other special makeup FX
Worked with mentor Rick Baker as special effects designer and special makeup effects designer on "Tanya's Island"
Hospitalized for nearly two weeks during the making of "The Thing" for what has been variously described as ulcers, pnuemonia, allergies and/or nervous exhaustion
Provided landmark monster designs for Carpenter's remake of "The Thing"
With Craig Reardon and Michael McCracken, served as special makeup effects designer for "It's a Good Life", a Dante-directed segment of "Twilight Zone--The Movie"
With Peter Robb-King, provided the Oscar-nominated special makeup effects designs for Ridley Scott's underperforming fantasy feature, "Legend"
First feature credit for Rob Bottin Productions (for "alien creature creation"), Dante's "Explorers"; Bottin provided special makeup effects
Designed "The Greibble", a cartoonish monster, for a Dante-directed episode of the NBC fantasy anthology "Amazing Stories"
Reteamed with Dante for "Innerspace"
Credited with "Robocop design and creation" as well as special makeup effects for "Robocop"; first collaboration with director Paul Verhoeven
Provided Oscar-winning visual effects for Verhoeven's "Total Recall"
Reteamed with Verhoeven to design and create special makeup FX as well as special visual FX for "Basic Instinct"
Credited as "Robocop designer" on the syndicated "Robocop: The Series"
Provided memorably grim special makeup FX for the well-received crime picture "Seven", directed by David Fincher
Signed to direct first motion picture, "Freddy vs. Jason"; film never made
Reteamed with Fincher to create the gruesome special makeup effects for "Fight Club"