A tribute to a Star Wars FX Master

Being a long time genre fan, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking to a number of great FX artists, and I can’t think of one of them that I had a bad experience with.

By and large, they are really terrific people, and they feel very fortunate to be doing what they love for a living.

I especially love the great make-up men like Dick Smith (The Godfather, The Exorcist), Rick Baker (American Werewolf, Men in Black), and Tom Savini (Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead).

Another make-up genius who did some of the most memorable work in cinema history was Stuart Freeborn. Need some credits if you’re not familiar with the name? 2001, Dr. Strangelove, and Star Wars are a good place to start.

Freeborn recently passed away at the age of 98 in his native England, and the mark he left on movies is clear. Just look at his incredible ape work for 2001.

Many of you also may not know he was the make-up supervisor on Star Wars, and he also created the make-up designs of Chewbacca, Yoda and Jabba the Hutt. 

Like Dick Smith, Rick Baker and John Chambers (Planet of the Apes), for those who know cinema, Freeborn’s name is synonymous with great make-up, and just a few other incredible Freeborn credits include Oliver Twist, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Omen, Superman, among many others. 

As the Hollywood Reporter tells us, George Lucas released a statement saying that Freeborn was “already a makeup legend” when they first got together, and “he brought with him not only decades of experience, but boundless creative energy. His artistry and craftsmanship will live on forever in the characters he created. His Star Wars creatures may be reinterpreted in new forms by new generations, but at their heart, they continue to be what Stuart created for the original films.”

Couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Freeborn really does leave a remarkable legacy behind, and we hope wherever he is he’s pleased the love and craftsmanship he put into his work will live on forever, in the Star Wars universe and beyond.