October 30, 2009
What do you do with an Oscar-nominated actor for his follow-up role? If you’re me – you convince him to remove half of his face.
For those of you who have seen “The Box” trailer (opening November 6th!) — or seen a television spot – you might notice that Mr. Langella does not look like his normal handsome self in this film.
That’s because we removed half of his face using state-of-the-art CGI.
My first meeting with Mr. Langella (after several phone conversations he had committed to the role) took place at a prosthetic make-up facility in the valley a few weeks before the start of principal photography.
We arrived at the facility to find him sitting in a tall chair, covered in a head-to-shoulder plaster mold – patiently waiting for it to dry so that a proper model could be made of his face. I was with Lou Lazzara, our key make-up department head, my producing partner Sean McKittrick and our costume designer April Ferry.
Frank came into the conference room twenty minutes later – plaster mold now removed and his face scrubbed clean. We all said hello. After some random chit-chat – I began to talk in depth about the character arc of Arlington Steward – then Frank stopped me.
He looked at me and said – “Excuse me . . . but who are you again?”
I said, “I’m Richard Kelly . . . the director.”
He immediately blushed then jumped up to give me a hug.
He had never seen a picture of me and assumed that I must have been one of April’s wardrobe assistants.
And so began my friendship with Frank Langella – the man who achieved fame as Dracula, legendary star of stage and screen and Oscar-nominated for his role as Richard Nixon (opposite Michael Sheen’s stellar performance as David Frost) in Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon.”
Frank Langella was born to play Arlington Steward – and he very much made the character his own. He was excited to use digital effects to remove half of his face, and was very specific about the look of his custom-tailored suit and bowler hat.
A great deal of thought went into designing the complex philosophy of this character and the intentions of his enigmatic employers.
This film has been a lot of things in my life – years of hard work and a labor of love – and I couldn’t have asked for three greater partners than the royal family of Lady Diaz, Prince Marsden and Lord Langella.