Preacher Season 2: How They Create Arseface

It takes over two hours to transform Preacher’s Ian Colletti into the tragic Eugene Root.

This article was originally published in the Den of Geek SDCC Special Edition Magazine. Click here to view the full issue!

AMC’s Preacher had the unenviable task of translating the hideous visage of Eugene “Arseface” Root from the comics page to the TV screen. But Eugene isn’t a monster or a villain, so the show had to find an actor who could convey the character’s gentle soul and earn the audience’s sympathy. And he had to be able to do it under prosthetic makeup that covers over half his face.

Carey Jones, the KNB EFX Group’s special effects makeup project supervisor, and actor Ian Colletti told us about the challenges of creating Arseface.

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CAREY JONES: I gave Greg Nicotero a call, and Evan [Goldberg] and Seth [Rogen] came to the shop. We just kind of went over a lot of ideas, and one of the things we kept coming back to was that we had to get the Arseface character right. We went into design really quickly. Right after that meeting, Greg and I sat down and kept throwing out ideas with our designer and came up with different ideas and designs of what the character would look like from a practical sense.

IAN COLLETTI: It’s a more difficult process than people realize. What you see on my face is not reusable. It’s a new appliance we put on my face every day. We’ve been able to cut the time down a little bit. Last year it was about two and a half hours on average. Now we do it in about an hour and 15 minutes. I’m amazed what these guys did by taking this guy off the page and making him come to life in live-action.

CJ: Ian Colletti’s face and how he emotes in terms of his brow and his eyes, that has a lot to do with it in terms of getting the sympathy and all that stuff. He translates it very well. On top of that, you have to make sure the prosthetic is not too thick and it works with his face. So when he does talk and he does move, it moves with him and doesn’t hide any of the emotions and things he does with his face. In terms of the actual shock of the look…There were a lot of different factors we had to look at. One was that we had to make sure it felt like the graphic novel, so when people saw it, those fanboys out there would see it in the makeup. At the same time, it couldn’t be too horrific. There’s a fine balance. You don’t want something you’d look at and be horrified, especially with how much he’d be on-camera.

IC: I never wanted him to be pitied. I wanted people to have empathy for him but not pity. In a way, I think he’s heroic in a universe where there are so many immoral characters.

CJ: We began with the most extreme and worked backwards. I think there’s a really extreme version where every part of his face is smooshed in except his right eye. We kind of ticked away at it, brought back some of the humanity and brought it to a place where viewers could look at it and not be horrified by it.

IC: Honestly, in my mind I was going over this character and doing my actor-y type things: going over his backstory and doing the voice, and going over his physical characteristics. When I finally looked in the mirror and saw it, it was the final piece in understanding where this character can go.

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CJ: It’s a prosthetic that covers 50 percent of his face. He has to wear it during 13 or 14-hour days, and sometimes more. Now that we’re in New Orleans, the weather is not forgiving. Ian is a huge piece of this in terms of temperament and willingness to wear it. Whenever you do a prosthetic like that, you’re always nervous about how the actor will take to it in terms of the glue on the face and sitting in the chair and all that.

And then when we passed that hump, it was about getting the blending down, getting the coloring right, getting the buckshot in the right places. Ian was such a sport about it, it made everything else fall into place. 

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