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On Set with... Barrie Gower

by Natalie Wright
On Set with... Barrie Gower

Barrie began his career in the film industry in 1996 after graduating from the London College of Fashion with a HND in Specialist Make-up. Barrie has worked for industry leading companies and individuals such as Weta Workshop and multi award winner Rick Baker. Barrie contributed towards the Academy award winning prosthetics for 'The Wolfman' (2011) and 'The Iron Lady' (2012) and has won 2 Primetime Emmy awards for his work on HBO's Game of Thrones.

Check out his extensive list of credits and website BGFX here

We managed to pin Barrie down to ask him a few questions on how he got where he is today…

  1. When did you know you wanted to become a makeup artist?

       Growing up in the late 70’s, my father was a manager at a local cinema and I would get the chance to go to various press screenings for films.  After meeting Ray Harryhausen at one of the events, it started my interest in wanting to pursue a career in the film industry.  Already a fan of Fantasy and Horror movies, I discovered ‘Fangoria’ magazine in my mid-teens. It was then I realised people actually made a living from making monsters and covering actors in rubber to change their appearance.

White Walker Makeup by Barrie Gower

  1. Which 5 items could you not live without in your makeup kit?


  1. Which iconic makeup / sfx look do you admire? And why? 

       A lot of Prosthetic artists cite makeups by Dick Smith, Rick Baker or John Chambers.  I have probably two favourite makeups and they’re both coincidentally by the same artist.  I’m a huge fan of The Mrs. Doubtfire makeup on Robin Williams by Greg Cannom and Ve Neill.  It was a beautiful character makeup which had wonderful natural forms and consisted of foam latex appliances.  My other favourite was the Mason Verger makeup on Gary Oldman in Hannibal.  It was on the rise of silicone technology as a prosthetic material and Greg really pushed a lot of techniques. It’s also a perfect example of getting the most out of a makeup with the help of a very accommodating Actor.

  1. What is your top tip for starting out in the industry? 

       Be eager and passionate.  Understand that this is a lifestyle, not a job.

The Red Woman Hag Makeup by Barrie Gower

  1. What is your life mantra?  

       Treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself.  I try to be nice to everyone no matter who they are or what rung of the ladder they are on.  A prosthetics trainee could quite easily be my boss in 5 years’ time!

  1. What do you feel is your greatest achievement to date?  

       Surviving our first season of Game of Thrones was quite an achievement!  It was quite a challenge not only in the practicality of making everything, but also from a business level of starting from the ground up.  

Wolfman Makeup being applied by Barrie Gower

  1. What’s your favourite film and why?  

Without a doubt, 'The Shining'.  I love everything about the Shining, Kubrick’s Direction, great performances, superb script and plot.  It’s so tense and unsettling. It’s timeless and I hope it never gets a remake!  If you were to ask me what my favourite film is from a makeup effects point of view, that would be hands down 'An American Werewolf in London’.  Ground-breaking effects from Rick Baker and his team.  Still unrivalled to this day.  I’m a fan of great effects practical or digital.  I have no problem with the advent of digital technology, but I haven’t seen any CGI effects yet that have come close to the work Rick did on that movie.

Goblin Makeup Created by Barrie Gower for Harry Potter

  1. If you could travel back in time, where would you go?  

       I would love to go back to receiving my A-Level results at High School and my year tutor telling me I won’t amount to anything.  I would love to have told her ‘Education is very important, but some folk aren’t as academic as others and ambition, passion and determination are just as important.  Also, 'screw you!'

  1. What were you doing this time yesterday?  

       Sweeping the floor!  We were having a workshop tidy as we had BAFTA coming to do a feature on our company.