This Year's Most Unlikely Oscar Nominee: 'Bad Grandpa' Makeup Designer Stephen Prouty

This Year's Most Unlikely Oscar Nominee: 'Bad Grandpa' Makeup Designer Stephen Prouty

This year's Academy Award nominations honor some of the most moving, most thoughtful, and most engaging films of the year: "Gravity," "12 Years a Slave," "Philomena," and, of course, "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa."

Yes, the movie where Johnny Knoxville disguised himself as an old man to shock and horrify unsuspecting bystanders earned an Oscar nomination for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. It's the first nomination for lead makeup artist Stephen Prouty, who created the intricate prosthetic appliances that were so convincing that people honestly thought the 42-year-old Knoxville was a codger in his 80s.

"Bad Grandpa" beat out several high-profile eligible films to earn the coveted nomination, including "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "American Hustle." It's up against Best Picture nominee "Dallas Buyers Club" and another surprise contender, the box-office disappointment "The Lone Ranger."

Prouty — whose resume also includes blockbusters like "Thor," "Men in Black 3," and "Star Trek Into Darkness" — talked to Yahoo Movies on the phone recently about his nomination and the three-to-five hour daily process it took to transform Knoxville into the incorrigible Irving Zisman.

Do you think either Johnny Knoxville or his young costar Jackson Nicoll were snubbed by the Academy?

Steve Prouty: Absolutely. It's a miscarriage of justice really and … I tell you, there’s always next year though. So we’ll see what the boys come up with but they were definitely overlooked for their hard work.

And how did you make Jackson look so young?

S.P.: Right? I know. Nobody knows that he's 30. It's incredible. He certainly acts like a 30-year-old, let me tell you.

He's known to sucker-punch people. Did you ever get punched by him?

S.P.: Pretty close. I took a good hit to the thigh one day and that left me limping a little bit. We used to call it the "Jackson 5." If you ever [get] asked if you like the Jackson 5, just say no, because if you say yes you’ll get five fingers and a fist aimed at your nether region.

What about Johnny? Did he ever prank you?

S.P.: No. Nope. Never did. We kept a very good working relationship and never got pranked by him or any of the crew really. They kind of left us alone with the pranks, which, you know … I'm both appreciated and disappointed at the same time.

Watch a never-before-seen deleted scene from "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa":

You and Johnny had to spend a ton of time together. Something like three hours a day in the chair?

S.P.: Absolutely. Every day in chair for three hours, and when we did the body makeup a couple days it was five hours. There was three of us doing the makeup through most of the film and we got real close. We were able to really befriend one another, and you get to really know a person when you’re that involved and right up in their face every day. And he's a great guy. He's the coolest person that I think I've worked with, perhaps ever on a show. He's just a genuinely good person, and he’s a pro too. He sat there every day, no problems, and it was great to work with him. I'd love the chance to do it again.

What was your biggest surprise with Johnny?

S.P.: Maybe just seeing how much he really cared about what he was doing, and how he had a really interesting ability to go into these situations where he could start a situation with someone on the street and ramp it up and control the situation so well, as well as get the narrative of the story injected in while he is performing whatever stunt or antics that he is doing. That takes a lot of skill, and I was really impressed by that because not everybody can do that. People think you just go out there and start messing with people, but he has really got to orchestrate that scene now to fit into the narrative of the film and he did a great job with that.

Was it was a noticeable difference in his personality from when he sat down to get his makeup to when he got up?

S.P.: To an extent, yeah. He often has said that those three hours would help him get into the character, because he’s also running through his material with us and bouncing some of the lines that he might use that day with us, and asking what our opinions are on it. Sometimes we'd actually throw in a few things, and a couple of our lines actually made it into the film, which is pretty funny.

How did the look of the makeup evolve from the original in the "Jackass" TV show and movies through to "Bad Grandpa"?

S.P.: The originator of these characters and designs, Tony Gardner, who owns Alterian Studios, brought me into this project and the previous films as well. Some of the earlier incarnations were almost mask-like. They were more of a pull-over large piece in foam latex, which is less skin-like in real-life. It reads well on film but in real-like it has an opaque, kind of spongy quality to it. But as we got toward the third film ["Jackass 3D"], Tony and I looked into silicone for the makeup and we switched over into that. And, again, the sculptures were a little thicker than on the third film and a little more heavy character into them.

So when it came time to do this one, Tony and I discussed just starting fresh. We started with a new life cast on Johnny and we did all the sculptures over, and we made them much thinner and more streamlined. And [we] just tried to really take the notes that we had taken from previous films about what didn’t work and what did work, and tried to implement them into this one. It’s good to have those previous experiences so we could really hone in on exactly what we needed to change.

Did Johnny have specific directions for where he wanted the makeup to go?

S.P.: He really wanted to make sure that we kept Irving handsome, like a debonair older gentleman, because, you know, he’s on the hunt. He’s looking for love, so you don't want something too frightening or over the top or unattractive. So we tried to keep him as a handsome guy there. You know, we had the wigs redone with a nice stylish sweep-back to them and new mustaches, brows, everything. So I think that his main focus was to make sure that we kept him attractive to the ladies I believe.

Why do you think you got the Oscar nomination and other big films didn't?

S.P.: Well, I think what has been our mantra with this is the fact that this makeup not only had to work on screen, but it had to work in person. And it had to work in person every day for the entire shoot. He's in character the entire time. We never see him young. In one earlier incarnation of the film, we were going to do some flashbacks to when he was younger. But as it evolved while we were shooting, it became just Irving at this age. So I think that was our biggest challenge, just making sure that everything was as tight and realistic as possible in person. Because he was literally inches from people, and in order for the bit to work — in order for the movie to work — he had to fool them. And I think that’s what maybe set us apart from some other pictures, but I think that’s what we’re most proud of.

"Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa" is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and on demand.

Watch the Oscars live on March 2 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, and stick with Yahoo Movies for Academy Awards coverage all season long.