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Scene Stealer: Turning Frank Langella into Richard Nixon for 'Frost/Nixon'

December 10, 2008 |  5:34 pm


Though the greatest special effect of "Frost/Nixon" came from Frank Langella's haunting ability to channel the essence of disgraced former president Richard Nixon, he did have some help from hair and make-up. Hairstylist Colleen Callaghan used old pictures of Nixon and a 1977 cover of Time magazine, in particular, to work with wig-maker Favian Wigs by Natascha  in recreating the exact wave of the president's hair. The $5,000 wig, which was made from real human hair, was applied to the actor in a 45-minute process that ended with Langella transforming himself internally. "Toward the end [of the application], he would start to pull into Nixon," Callaghan says. "On the set, everyone addressed him as Mr. President."

The second key aspect to Langella's appearance was his nose, a gelatin-mold created by makeup artist David Anderson. "I created five different noses," Anderson says. "Choice 1 was basically Langella's nose with two bumps. Choice 5 was a full-blown Nixon nose, but it looked a little gross on Frank's face." The production went with Choice 4  -- something just shy of the full-size presidential schnoz. The challenge was keeping the set cool enough. "If his body temp got too high," Anderson said, "the nose would melt." Tricky indeed.

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo courtesy Universal Pictures