Special Effects Artist Legend Rick Baker is Retiring from Hollywood

May 29, 2015
Source: THR

Rick Baker

Well this is sad. On a recent radio show, special effects and make-up artist legend Rick Baker announced that he was retiring from filmmaking. "The time is right, I am 64 years old, and the business is crazy right now. I like to do things right, and they wanted cheap and fast," Baker said in an interview on 89.3 KPCC (via THR). "That is not what I want to do, so I just decided it is basically time to get out." Baker has been working in the industry for over 40 years, and is now 64, he's had a huge impact on the industry and been a part of movie history for so long. He last worked on Maleficent, Tron Legacy plus MIB 3, and runs a studio.

Baker explains that it's the CG craze that has killed off his business and line of work, and the practical work he does is still not as grand as it used to be. Baker designed some of the practical make-up and special effects for classics like Star Wars, An American Werewolf in London, The Rocketeer, Gremlins 2, Men in Black, Ed Wood, and the Planet of the Apes remake. He says the industry changed and he had to sell his Glendale creature shop and lay off his staff. "I did Men in Black 3, which was good for that [kind of shop], but the last film I did was Maleficent and I could've done that in a garage, basically." Sad to hear him say it.

Here's a video via The Academy on Rick Baker's Collection - "inside his studio for a behind-the-scenes look":

It sounds like Baker will still keep his collection, but won't run a full shop anymore. "First of all, the CG stuff definitely took away the animatronics part of what I do. It's also starting to take away the makeup part," he adds. "I would consider designing and consulting on something, but I don't think I will have a huge working studio anymore." Just another indication of the sign of the times, and the way the industry changes, pushing out classic work and going for digital almost completely. Sad to hear. But as SlashFilm reminds us, not only do we have all of his past work to appreciate, which is plentiful & amazing, but "we can hope that at least one more persuasive producer or director will be able to convince him to work on one last production, with a proper budget." Maybe one day, maybe. In the meantime, lots of Baker's old collection will be auctioned off.

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  • grimjob
    And somewhere Dave and Chainsaw weep... The man is brilliant, one of my favorites. Damn shame.
  • This guy is a legend. He's one of the reasons I became a filmmaker. Went to school for practical effects and then went to writing and directing. It's sad to see such a craft that I feel is taken for granted. I will always use practical effects in my short films first. It's a shame alright.
  • ErrorSapiens
    No man on earth has placed so many hairs on other humans as this man, and if they did - they didnt get an oscar for it. Baker is of a dying breed of handworking craftsmen in the Movie industry, just like Stan Winston and Ray Harryhausen .. luckily some people still dare to do it the old way in their movies like Abrams (partly) and Guillermo del toro. Lets hope this art form doesnt die out.. practical effects just looks better than cgi. Thanks for all the fun Baker!
  • deerosa
    American Werewolf in London changed the bar in film making special effects. If I remember correctly they developed this category based on that performance alone. Anyhow, his stuff in American Werewolf in London were game changers for sure. Rob Bottin for his work in "the thing" was pretty good stuff as well.
  • So much work, that's great he got to retire without getting sunk. Tonnes of treasure in his studio, he could tour that for the rest of his life.
    • grimjob
      Man. Can you imagine being able to hang out in his studio for a few hours?
      • On so many levels there is so much creativity there, multiple techniques and crafts people probably don't even teach, it would rule getting in there!
    Respect for knowing when it's your time to bow out. Respect.
  • Bill
    A real talent. He'll be missed.
  • Mark Brackney
    Shame. Absolutely loved his take on Greg Capullo's new Joker. Beautifully grotesque.




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