These transformations take several hours of incredible work from both the talented makeup artists and the actors. These behind-the-scenes videos give fans a peek at the creation of some of their favorite characters.
Doug Jones is the actor under all the prosthetics and makeup it takes to create Saru, the sole Kelpien on the Discovery crew. The faces of many of the non-human entities in the Star Trek universe usually still resemble human faces. However, this isn’t the case for the Kelpiens. Their heads have a unique shape, they have protruding gills and ganglion, and their skin is a completely different texture. So, the transformation from human to Kelpien is intense.
The whole process for turning Jones into Saru was documented in a time-lapse video posted to the Star Trek YouTube channel. The quick video, linked above, revealed that Jones goes through a whole layer of base makeup before his prosthetic mask gets put on. The giant mask covers not only his face, but also his neck, chest, and shoulders. Once the mask is on, a second, intricate makeup application happens.
Once Ethan Phillips was in his Neelix makeup, his human face was still recognizable, but he certainly didn’t look very human. His character, Neelix, is a Talaxian, a species native to the Delta Quadrant. The defining features of the Talaxians are the bright spots that run down the sides of their faces and necks. They also have mohawk-like manes that start at the crown of the head and tumble down their backs.
In the video above, Phillips walked fans through a day in his life on the set of Star Trek: Voyager, which included quite a bit of time in the makeup department. Though Neelix’s characteristic spots may look like they were meticulously applied with makeup, the video revealed that they were actually part of an elaborate prosthetic cap that fit over Phillips’ head, neck and shoulders. The mane was also part of the same cap.
Like Saru’s process, after the prosthetic was on, Phillips went through a second makeup application to blend the prosthetic with his skin.
Some fans might not recognize Mary Chieffo when they see her face. That’s because it was completely covered with a prosthetic mask and makeup when she became her character, the Klingon L’Rell.
Chieffo gave The Hollywood Reporter an inside look at what went into her transformation a couple of years ago. In the video linked above, fans can see the application of the incredibly detailed prosthetic mask that covered her entire head and neck, creating a seamless Klingon visage. The video also walked fans through the complicated costuming process that finished off Chieffo’s fierce look.
Creating Old School Klingons
Richard Snell was a legendary makeup artist and prosthetic designer who worked on the original Star Trek movies, Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). He won an Emmy for his work on TNG and was nominated several times for his work on other Star Trek projects.
In the video linked above, Snell showed fans what went into creating the Klingon look for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The method was quite different from the process Chieffo went through to become L’Rell. Star Trek VI came out in 1991, so the prosthetics and makeup were nothing like they are today.
The video revealed that creating the old school Klingon face didn’t include a mask at all. A single prosthetic was attached over the forehead and the rest was done with diligent, thorough makeup application.
It’s awesome to see all the hard work that goes into creating the characters fans get to enjoy every single day. The makeup artists behind the scenes truly are the rockstars of the Star Trek universe.