The Artist Behind TV’s Greatest Transformations

Vincent Van Dyke is a triple Emmy nominee this year, also means that he’s competing against his own work in the outstanding-prosthetic-makeup category. But that’s not a bad problem to have, he says. “They’re so different in general, the shows. So it’s almost hard to compare them in many ways.”

Indeed, his work this past season includes the stellar sci-fi creatures on Star Trek: Picard, the aging work on Angelyne, and the subtle prosthetics needed for the political series gaslit, a trio of projects that could not be more different. It’s not the first time that this veteran creator (who now has a total of 11 nominations, with one win) has competed against his own work either: In 2020 he was nominated for American Horror Story: 1984, Hollywood, and Picard, winning for the latter.

So while his work can be seen all over the small screen, Van Dyke says he’s often proudest when it goes unnoticed. “Often, my favorite stuff that we’ve ever done is the type of work that you have no idea that we were even there,” says Van Dyke. “Maybe it’s a subtle nose bridge or it’s something that is just enough to help make the character something else, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that there’s prosthetics involved.”

Here, Van Dyke breaks down his nominated work, revealing the creative way he and his collaborators were able to bring aliens, politicians, and a 700-pound man to life.

angelyne (Nomination, 2022)

One of Van Dyke’s main tasks on the Peacock series about the LA icon Angelyne was aging star Emmy Rossum up and down for a series that follows the character from age 17 to 70. “It’s a huge, broad spectrum of age,” he says. “There’s never a look that Emmy doesn’t have some form of prosthetic makeup on. Even in that youngest look, she’s got a nose piece on.”

It wasn’t just Rossum who had to be aged, but the supporting actors. And because Angelyne was known for getting plastic surgery, her character could not exactly be counted on for showing the true passage of time. Van Dyke says angelyne makeup artist Kate Biscoe put it best when she said that some of these other characters are actually the benchmark of true aging. “You do have characters like Martin Freeman‘s character, who is aging much more naturally,” he says. “And it registers with you.”

While Van Dyke also worked on Rossum’s chest prosthetics, he says that age makeup is by far his favorite part of his job, and the most challenging. “We all know what a human being looks like as they age. We’re around people every day. So it is very, very easy to create something that feels just slightly off, that doesn’t feel like it’s hitting the mark,” he says. “I think that because it’s so challenging is why I can continue to love it because I never feel like I’m hitting it. I’m always feeling like I’m chasing this goal of trying to create something that feels as absolutely real as I possibly can.”

gaslit (Nomination, 2022)

On Starz’s political thriller gaslit, Van Dyke got to work with Kazu Hiro, the Oscar-winning prosthetics and makeup maestro behind darkest hour and Bombshell. “He’s somebody who I put on a pedestal as one of the absolute best. So when we’re able to work with him, it’s quite an honor,” says Van Dyke.

Van Dyke was tasked with creating the prosthetic pieces after Kazu had designed them, and he put a lot of focus on Sean Penn‘s character John Mitchell, Nixon’s attorney general and chairman of his presidential campaigns. “It’s a brand-new set of prosthetics for every day—they get destroyed after that removal at the end of the day,” he says.

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