‘Westworld’ Team on Designing Season 4’s New Drones and Building an Army of Aaron Pauls

‘Westworld’ Team on Designing Season 4’s New Drones and Building an Army of Aaron Pauls

[This story contains spoilers for HBO‘s Westworld season 4. ]

When HBO’s Westworld revealed its massive mid-season twist — that Aaron Paul’s Caleb had become a host — it inched this cerebral series closer to answering its longest-running question: what makes something human?

It’s a quandary the series’ special makeup effects team has had to not only help Westworld visually explore throughout the show’s run but in the face of several of its leading heroes and villains becoming hosts, alongside the introduction of a new series of drones imagined by Hale during its fourth season.

Executing that thematic exploration with Caleb took place during the season’s sixth episode, “Fidelity,” where host version #278 attempts to break out of Hale’s glass cage after she seeks to isolate what has made Caleb’s human consciousness resistant to her mind-control tech. Caleb makes a series of horrifying discoveries as he attempts to escape from Hale’s glass cage. He has been able to see past versions of himself in different forms and the brutal results.

“That episode was maddening,” Jason Collins, special makeup effects designer on Westworld season four tells The Hollywood Reporter. “When you are shooting one person as multiple people, it is important to get a lot of people who are about his size and build. Then put wigs on them, do all the makeup, because you never know what you might catch. Next, hurry up and put Aaron in the exact same makeup, and then shoot him in reverse. That is very time-consuming.”

Special makeup effects makeup designer head Jennifer Aspinall, Aaron Paul and Caleb doubles on the set of Westworld Season 4.

Courtesy of subjects

“Caleb had four doubles for the scenes, three of them were wigged and one had Aaron’s hair texture, so we cut his hair to match Caleb,” hair head Jose Zamora tells THR of how his department contributed to the many Calebs season in episode six. “Caleb was broken down by Jennifer [Aspinall], special makeup effects makeup designer head, and we followed their lead to match Caleb’s stage. It was a collaborative show .”

While makeup head Elisa Marsh, like Zamora, played a significant role in shaping the looks of the individual hosts and humans on Westworld during season 4 — with John Damiani handling Paul’s grooming, beard match and scar application — she gives much of the credit when it comes to Caleb to her special effects team counterparts.

Marsh states, “When we first meet him and get an inkling that it’s stage one generation, he is pretty perfect.” “Then, as he tries escape, he degrades. That was a whole thing special effects did brilliantly. He’s in such small window that his hair didn’t grow because he’s now a human .”

Because the timeline was very specific, the team had to identify each stage of the physically declining host. To do that, they pulled from an existing example in the universe and the understanding that each Caleb had a life span of about “20-odd-days,” says Collins.

“As Caleb begins to deconstruct, there was a reference that we could use. That was in season 2. Collins explains that James Delos, a character, discovers that he is now a drone after discovering that he was once a human. “You begin to see little ticks with this guy. He is scratching at his skin, pulling it out — self-destructing. It starts at the inside and moves to the outside. So we took our cue from that character.”

His own work on the series was supported by Aspinall, who helped him navigate Westworld‘s timeline and adhere to continuity for Caleb’s deterioration.

“I’ve been a fan since season one, I’ve seen every episode, but there are little intricacies and all these highways and — in trying to understand how they built the world of Westworld — sometimes I don’t see the little minute details,” Collins says. “But Jen has been there from season one and will tell you, “Oh yeah. “I think that was this.” Then, we’ll go back to season two and look at an episode and say, “Ah, there it IS. ‘”

The character Hector Escaton thirty years later in Westworld Season 4

Courtesy of subjects

He adds that the show is full of self-reference.

Although creating multiple Aaron Paul lookalikes for season 4 was a difficult task, they were also part the effort to deliver Hale’s new drones. They were inspired by a painting by Lisa Joy, showrunner and high-end car tech.

“Lisa Joy came to our aid at one point and stated that she wanted an evolved drone. They’re going in Hale’s universe. We didn’t know what they were going for or how they would be used. But she had a photograph of a painting that she liked that was this elongated figure,” Aspinwall tells THR.

Collins and she took that information and began “researching all things high-end car design to plants 3D printed mechanical joints” — the kind, according to the special makeup effects makeup artist, that would provide a balance between boundary-pushing tech as well as organic entities that is appropriate for Hale’s world.

Tessa Thompson in Westworld Season 4

John Johnson/HBO

She adds that she found inspiration in this amazing illustration of a 3D printed image based on a Lily. “The Lily shape kinda became the head and the body was inspired by a high-end car design. We took that and made it into a very sleek-looking body with the same legs Lisa Joy used in her painting.

Hale’s vision of a body goes beyond the ideal conception and biological limitations of human bodies. The end result seems to embody virtually no differentiation — a potential rebuke of human identity diversity — but also embraces different figure types who, looking for it within the human society, may sometimes resemble bodies with disabilities.

Collins says that you can go to something greater and more efficient for yourself. “You can go to something grander and better and something more efficient for yourself.”

Westworld season four is available to stream on HBO Max.

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