Remembering Special Effects Master Stan Winston

StarWars.com Team | June 19, 2008

This week we lost an iconic special effects innovator and make-up artist Stan Winston, who’s best known for his work in the Terminator films, Jurassic Park, Aliens, Predator, Edward Scissorhands and most recently Iron Man, passed away at age 62 on June 15, 2008. He leaves behind a legacy of innovative work that not only earned him four Academy Awards, but legions of fans who many have become movie make-up artists and creature creators themselves.

Revenge of the Sith Creature Shop Supervisor Dave Elsey talks to us about his own admiration for Stan Winston and why his talents on the big screen will be missed.

When did you first discover the work of Stan Winston?
I was probably about 15 when I discovered Stan Winston’s work. I had a book called Making A monster by Al Taylor and Sue Roy, and I was really obsessed by the stuff he did, even back then, before he started doing all the really iconic stuff. I really loved his collaborative old age makeup on The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman.

What is it about Stan’s work that makes him such an icon with people in who work in special effects and movie make-up?
I suppose the thing that made him such an icon was his staggering hit rate with the movies he chose and the characters he created for them, many of which can quite rightly be called classics. Stan was also a real showman, and this really helped raise the profile of people in my profession. In fact, I don’t think you could just call him an icon for people who work in special makeup effects, because that’s too limiting. People loved him in every corner of the movie business, and outside as well, such was the impact of his work. There were people who would wait for the next movie that had his work in, in the same way that people would wait for say, the next Spielberg movie.

What is your favorite Stan creation and why?
My favorite Stan movie, would have to be Terminator. It’s a obvious choice I know, but that movie forms the foundations for what people came to expect both as an audience member, and by collaborating with him.

How has Stan’s work influenced you in your own work?
Most makeup effects artists have been influenced in some way by him. For me, it manifests as the drive to create memorable characters, rather than just rubber monsters. Stan helped make our input important on movies.

What do you think future generations of artists will learn from his work?
I hope future generations of artists will probably just learn to enjoy their work, and their life as much as he did. I doubt that the T-Rex sized hole left by his passing will never truly be filled.

Why will you miss him?
This is going to sound corny but, when I was a kid, effects movies were like magic, and Stan stood out as one of the great magicians. I’ll miss the magic. Bye Stan.

Read more about Stan Winston here:

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