The first time we saw Christian Pattinson he was wearing a ski mask behind a fake beard. The second time we saw him he was wearing clown make up, and the third time we saw him, he was wearing a cape and a mask over his entire face except for his eyes. What is it about this British actor that makes him appear to transform himself into a different character every few months? Is it all just makeup? Let’s take a look at how he does it and how you can achieve a similar look.
PATTINSON’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
After appearing in a handful of British films including the award-winning The Lost Prince and the Oscar-nominated Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Christian decided to take a break from acting to focus on his music career. Since then, he has released five studio albums and has toured internationally with his band, the Vacca, performing over 100 shows a year. In 2018, he released his sixth album, Mockingbird, which featured the single “Truth Serum,” a collaboration with the band Foo Fighters. The song was originally performed by Foo Fighters for the 2018 album Concrete and Steel. You’ll hear more about this album in a bit.
PATTINSON AS CHRISTIAN PATTINGSON
Since deciding to call it a day in 2019, Christian has taken to social media to share snaps of himself in character as the Caped Crusader. The first photos showed up in August 2019 and were quickly followed by a second batch in September. This is when we learned that the ‘break’ from acting was a bit more serious than we’d been led to believe. On Twitter, he simply states that he’s now “living his best life as a musician and [he’s] loving every minute.” In an interview with The Mirror, Christian admitted that he had gotten into a bit of a rut due to the lack of opportunities, which led him to consider a career in music: “It was soul destroying. I felt like I was fighting for roles, baring my teeth a lot because I was so anxious to prove myself, and getting very little joy from it. It wasn’t until I started making music that I felt like I was connecting with people on a genuine level.”
HIS LOOKING GLASS CELL MOUTH
While we’re on the subject of the character he plays, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and have a look at Christian’s former face. Back in 2014, Christian sported a slightly different look in the form of a dark brown beard. That was until he underwent an extensive makeup transformation to play the dual role of Jim and John in the 2015 biographical movie The Looking Glass. It’s no wonder that the actor underwent so much cosmetic alteration for a role. In the film, Jim is played by English actor Bob Peck and John is played by Australian actor Russell Crowe.
For Jim, Peck had to go full ‘80s. He began with a full-beard, which he then stropped and shaved. After that, he filled in the hairline and defined the eyebrows. Next, he painted the outer corners of the eyes and drew an outline around the eyes. Then, he darkened the eye area and filled it in with color. Finally, he drew a line from the corner of the eye, under the nose, up to the upper lip, giving it a three-dimensional appearance. For John, Crowe had to go the opposite way; he began with a clean shave and then had to build up the hair on his face, starting with the eyebrows and working down. Next, he had to define the nose and lips. Then, he colored in the lips and defined the eyes. Finally, he stropped and shaded the entire face for a more realistic appearance.
BATMAN NAMED DANIEL
In addition to his work on The Looking Glass, Christian also starred in the 2017 biographical film Danai, in which he portrayed English actor Daniel Day-Lewis. For this role, he had to emulate the character’s unique intensity and intensity. To achieve this effect, Daniel’s makeup artist, Richard Tyler, took great care in trying to figure out what made Day-Lewis’ character stand out. Tyler told The Independent that he based his look on a combination of ‘70s cinema and ‘20s stage magic, adding: “I love old-school makeup on young-school actors. Daniel is incredible, he really is, and it’s such a gift to be able to play off his genius.”
PATTINSON’S TAKE ON BATMAN
While we’re on the subject of Day-Lewis, let’s have a look at what Christian had to say about Batman; he played Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight. In The Independent, he discussed what it was like to play a bad guy: “I had a sort of ‘70s English gangster feel to my persona as Harvey Dent. I was pretty pumped about it, particularly after a few drinks.”
In a different interview, he discussed the challenge of playing a sympathetic character: “It was interesting to play someone who is so different from myself – in his own words, ‘the good doctor’ – but in some ways, I think, I understand him better than I do myself. The actor who plays Batman, Michael Caine, was also in the same boat once, in the very first Batman movie. He said that playing Bruce Wayne’s evil twin was a real pain – I can really relate to that because sometimes I feel like I’m playing two different roles, sometimes within myself. The character of Bruce was quite a bit older, so it was interesting to play someone who was more sophisticated and had more money than me. I enjoyed playing someone who was more ‘finished’ than I am.”
So, there you have it. Christian’s take on Batman and the challenges of playing a character that is supposedly based on yourself. Makeup artist Georges Lebret, who worked with Christian on both The Looking Glass and Danoi, had this to say: “He is, first of all, a great actor, so it was quite enjoyable to work with him. The key challenge for me was to make him look like he had been doing this for a while and had a complete disguise ready to wear. I had to make him look like a completely different person. I took my time with this one, trying to find the right look for him, because I wanted to make him more realistic. He is a very clean shaven man, but I had to give him a bit of a bush. When he arrived on set, he had the same outfit he had on in the movie previously cancelled out with the addition of a beard and glasses. I gave him a full fake English accent and deepened his voice. Everything about him is 100 percent changed, and it was quite an experience to work in such a way that the audience wouldn’t guess what was going on. It took me four hours to apply the makeover. Once I finished, I felt like a new man.”
Even the most subtle changes to an actor’s appearance can have a dramatic impact on how they are perceived on screen. As you can see, Christian has taken pains to change the way we perceive him. He doesn’t often speak about his work, but when he does, it’s always positive. Whether he was playing a villainous role or a sympathetic character, Christian manages to keep the focus squarely on his acting and away from any preconceived notions we might have about him. It’s safe to say that Christian has a lot more than just makeup in his skill set. With more than 20 years in the industry, it’s clear that he’s still finding his way and is looking to the future with optimism.