Justin Raleigh grew up in Apple Valley in a family with no money or resources. So when the mother of a high school friend who was a professional photographer offered him a job as a beauty makeup artist, he jumped.
“I saw this as my way out. My only chance, really. So I worked as hard as I could, “she says.
Raleigh found a way out and then some: He’s part of the three-person team that just won an Oscar and a BAFTA for hair and makeup in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” featuring the winner of the ‘Oscar Jessica Chastain as the eponymous televangelist and Andrew Garfield as husband Jim Bakker. The only question now is whether to show the awards at his Fractured FX studio near Los Angeles or here at his Discovery Bay home.
“As a kid, it was always a dream to someday get to this point. It was a whirlwind and very surreal, ”says the special effects makeup artist.
Raleigh’s journey to the Academy Awards began with a childhood fascination with all that is disgusting.
“Every Halloween, I would collect all the produce I could afford and play with those things,” he recalls. “They were usually gory things. If you go to YouTube these days, there’s a whole generation doing this type of construction makeup using latex and cotton. I too have done so many “.
She got that beauty gig in high school and even started making people cute at Glamor Shots, a chain of portrait studios that 80s kids will remember fondly. She made her feature film debut in a low-budget film called “Wild Magic” which was never released.
“We did all kinds of injury simulations,” he says, “and orcs, elves and weird fantasy characters.”
Some might say that Tammy Faye looked like a weird fantasy character herself, with her puffy hair and crazy eye shading that inspired a generation of drag queens. Teammates Linda Dowds and Stephanie Ingram made wigs, nails and eyes for Chastain. Raleigh was chosen for the prosthetics: the layers of latex, fillers and special devices that create the distinctive facial features of the characters and then age them, in this case, four decades.
“Jessica was very adamant that she wanted it to be transformative. She didn’t want to try just traditional hair, makeup and wigs, ”she says. “There seemed to be no way to play Tammy Faye without Tammy’s cheeks and iconic elements.”
Three stages of prosthetics took Chastain and Garfield from the 1960s to the 1990s. Eventually, the styling sessions for the hair, makeup, costumes, prosthetics and a leotard that Garfield had to wear took four or more hours a day.
“In the world of prosthetics, with that level of coverage – at that stage, over two-thirds of the skin you see is prosthetic – four hours is considered a really good number,” says Raleigh.
Chastain seems pleased with the result of her makeup effects and new cheeks. “I don’t know if I could have played the character without it. I don’t know how to separate the two. The prosthetics were (Tammy Faye), “she told her in a bonus video clip shared on Weekly entertainment place. He was also adamant in supporting Raleigh and the team on their big night. The makeup awards were pre-recorded ahead of the live show this year, but she was there to cheer them on.
“She came early, she made her red carpet right after us, I think,” says Raleigh. “She Then she was in the room when we won, which was great.”
Lifelike dentures are a Raleigh specialty – she helped create Linda Tripp’s striking face for “Impeachment: American Crime Story”. But his filmography’s numerous credits range from “Big Little Lies” and “Westworld” to “Army of the Dead”, the latest “Aquaman” and Steven Soderbergh’s gruesome series, “The Knick”, where the lifelike wounds of Raleighs were the product of intense research.
“That was the whole 1900 surgical reconstruction. He was really a character in himself on the show,” he says. He spent over a month working at the Burns Archives in New York, reviewing stereoscopic images of actual 1900s surgeries and collecting as many medical references as possible.
If looking at photos of debrisings and corpses seems intense, it doesn’t keep him awake at night, at least “not anymore,” he says. “You have to create a separation, otherwise I think it will haunt you. But it really needs to be done right. The human eye is incredible and can perceive anything that is false. “
His interest in human fluids taught him another lesson: in Hollywood, not all recipes for fake blood are acceptable on set. “There is a lot of vegan and gluten-free stuff now,” he says. “I work in the film industry, so that’s to be expected.”
Following his Oscar win, Raleigh is planning effects for Zack Snyder’s next flagship Netflix project, “Rebel Moon,” which will take 300 days of very snyderish footage. When he’s not working, he commutes from SoCal to his East Bay home, which he shares with his wife and Fractured FX board secretary Nicole Raleigh. She is a Bay Area native and a huge horror fan, whom she met Raleigh after graduating from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena.
“Justin (took me) to see ‘Hannibal’ on our third date. (Coincidentally,) the makeup effects were done by Greg Cannom, Justin’s idol and mentor who entrusted Justin with “The Eyes Of Tammy Faye,” he says. “That started a life where Justin ruined my movies by explaining how the makeup effects were created. I’ve never watched movies the same way again. “
For a guy whose career has been driven by love of Halloween, don’t expect to see a spooky out-of-home extravaganza in October. “It’s kind of my vacation, my day off,” says Raleigh. “I always deal with these things, so the last thing I want to do is glue the prostheses to more people or to myself.”