Mount Sinai seems to be the furthest place from Hollywood, and that's why Oscar nominee (and past winner) John Caglione, Jr says he chooses to live there--plus the fact that he loves Long Island.
John is a professional make-up artist. He fell in love with the old Universal horror movies as a child and decided he wanted to learn to make people into monsters like Frankenstein. With the exception perhaps of his kids on Halloween, John hasn't made a Frankenstein, but he has made iconic movie faces.
John is the friendliest, warmest, most down to earth guy. His Mount Sinai home is lovely-- and completely normal-- minus an Oscar on the mantel-- that is until he takes you into his workshop. On the wall he has face casts of some of the most amazing actors of our time including Al Pacino (who he has worked with many times), Russell Crowe, Val Kilmer, Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Depp, and the late Heath Legder. On the shelf there are boxes labeled with the names of famous actors and movies. Inside of the boxes are prosthetics. I held Al Pacino's eyes!
John won the Oscar in 1990 for his work on Dick Tracy. He's worked on so many movies including Donnie Brasco, and he aged Bette Midler in For the Boys. John was nominated for the Oscar this year for his work on the Dark Knight. Sadly, Benjamin Button took home the prize. John and I spoke a lot about his amazing experience on the Dark Knight set and what it was like working with Oscar winner Heath Legder. He did Heath's make-up for over 60 days. It took about an hour and a half to apply the Joker's famous face. Here's what he told me-- I find it all so interesting.
"I went to London to start doing makeup tests with Heath and we were just playing around with paints. Heath and I were in the makeup trailer before the tests and Chris Nolan came in and he had a real vision to what the Dark Knight was going to look like. He brought in a book on Frances Bacon paintings which are very kind of abstract and dreary dreamy kind of paintings, disturbing but incredible paintings and Chris' notes were look at this Frances Bacon painting and I want the makeup to appear to look caked and smudged and then I want you to degrade it in stages through the picture."
" They wanted the makeup to look very caked on and very lived in like a psychopath would do the make-up so Heath and I worked out a series of different facial expressions he would hit in the chair. He would scrunch up his face and wrinkle his forehead and I would paint these layers of colors over these expressions which created all the cracks and crevases and gave more expression to what normally would be a white flat painted face... it was a collaboration between me and Heath and Chris Nolan. I described it as a dance. I actually danced with Heath because the makeup could not really happen without him doing all of these different expressions"
"It was great with Heath... every morning sometimes the calls would be 4:30 - real early- and the first thing he would do is come in and hug all of us, all the actors and the makeup and hair people, big bear hugs and then we'd do the makeup which took about an hour and a half. He would work 12- 14 hours a day hanging off trucks and getting flipped over by Batman. He did a lot of his own stunts and he was really banged and bruised and at the end of the day he would come in and we'd take off the last drop of makeup and we'd all get bear hugs at the end of the night. I've never had an actor that kind of experience with an actor. He was just one in a million, I've never met anyone like him. It's just a great thing that he was just enjoying the work and thats one thing about working with him that I really appreciated... Heath taught me to really enjoy what's going on and not get too bogged down in worrying because its all going to work out."
John is extremely humble and claims he is just riding Heath's coattails. He says that Heath was a huge influence on how he approaches his work and his life.