Westmore: Aliens Inspired By Nature

By Caillan
May 22, 2003 - 10:16 AM

Longtime Star Trek makeup designer Michael Westmore said yesterday he bases many an alien creation upon elements found in Earth's animal kingdom.

"It makes my job a lot easier than trying to sit down and create something totally off the wall by actually using nature to work from," Westmore told Scott Essman at StarTrek.com. "Nature, down to the point of birds high in the sky or something that's under a microscope or a fish that's in the bottom of the ocean. Using everything. Plants for textures, microscopic landscapes that you find in microbes and things for textures. I take subscriptions to almost anything you can think of every month."

While Trek's myriad of species are by their very nature alien, Westmore said nature provides "familiar" elements which viewers can associate with. "I may take the snout off a turtle and the bone structure off the back of an alligator, and some bumps on the top of the head off of a grasshopper."

Westmore has served as Trek makeup supervisor since the days of The Next Generation, working on Deep Space Nine, Voyager and now Enterprise. Over the years, he has been honoured with four Emmy Awards and countless more nominations for designing the look of Trek's otherwordly aliens.

In his role as supervisor, Westmore has little time to actually sculpt his creations, with most of the hands-on work falling to his team. "If everybody is busy and we need a nose, I'll sit down and whip out a nose. I don't have time to do something big, like a full head," he said. But at the end of the day, the buck stops with him. "Because, if there is a problem, I'm the only person it comes back on if it doesn't work good and it doesn't turn out right."

The complete interview can be found here at StarTrek.com.

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