Stellan Skarsgård Refused ‘Pirates’ Motion Capture, Says Hours-Long Makeup Process Is ‘Painful but Worth It’; ‘Dune 2’ Transformation Took 8 Hours

Stellan Skarsgård revealed to Business Insider that he spent eight hours in the makeup chair in order to transform into the villainous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen for “Dune: Part Two.” That might seem like an awful experience to some, but for Skarsgård it’s preferred to relying on any kind of VFX for transforming into his characters.

“It was painful, but it was worth it,” Skarsgård said. “We wanted him to be so well defined as an image that he made an imprint on people just by showing up on the screen. And that imprint should last throughout the film without having him show up all the time.”

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Per Business Insider: “He recalled a similar instance almost two decades ago when he played the barnacle-covered Bootstrap Bill in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise. When it came time to choose between wearing prosthetics or simply doing his scenes with motion-capture dots on his face, Skarsgård opted for hours in the makeup chair.”

“I was the only one on set with real prosthetics on,” Skarsgåard said. “Everyone else on that ship showed up five minutes before we started shooting and had dots put on their face, and away they went. I had been there for six hours. But the thing is, I like it. I like to see the artists paint, if that makes sense.”

The “Dune” movies are the latest Hollywood tentpoles starring Skarsgåard, who appeared in several Marvel movies as “Dr. Erik Selvig.” His most recent Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance was in 2022’s “Thor: Love and Thunder.” When asked about recent Marvel box office disappointments and if he thinks movies like “Dune” and “Oppenheimer” mean creativity is being restored in the big budget movie, the actor answered: “I do, in a way.”

“Those films you named made a lot of money, so it makes the studio heads courageous,” Skarsgåard said. “But it only takes one flop to make them scared again. The thing is, it takes a lot of talent to make an ‘Oppenheimer’ or a ‘Dune,’ and we can’t produce that much talent enough to have 100 releases like that each year. But I think the cinema will survive.”

“They will go back to how the multiplex was intended to be,” he added. “The biggest screens show the biggest blockbusters, and the smaller screens show other films. What has been happening is they show the same shit on all the screens. I think that will change. I’m positive.”

“Dune: Part Two” is now playing in theaters nationwide from Warner Bros.

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