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Zoe Saldana Was Uneasy Being Green and Other Stories of Movie Makeup Messes

Gwynne Watkins

Zoe Saldana Was Uneasy Being Green and Other Stories of Movie Makeup Messes

Zoe Saldana gave new meaning to the phrase “going green” while shooting Guardians of the Galaxy (in theaters Friday). For her role as alien bounty hunter Gamora, the star was covered in green makeup — and as she explained on Live with Kelly and Michael, it didn’t exactly wash off at the end of the day.  

“I would go home and soak myself in a tub of hot water and then all this green would just come out from my insides — I have no idea, like my pores were green, the pillow was green, my dog was green, the apartment that we were renting was green,” Saldana said. “I was like ‘Oh my God! For a month, I would blow my nose [it was green]! Will this ever stop?’”

The actress had previously told Us Weekly that her blue-skinned Avatar role was much easier than Guardians, since at least Avatar was done in CGI. "Blue was easier," Saldana said. “I never even had to get make up done. I just showed up and then they did everything in post.” She’s hardly the only performer to struggle with body makeup. Here are five other actors who had a tough time with their extreme movie makeovers.  

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Jennifer Lawrence in the X-Men films

It took a team of makeup artists seven hours to turn Lawrence into blue shapeshifter Mystique for X-Men: First Class, reportedly inspiring the actress to nickname her character “Mystink.” By X-Men: Days of Future Past, the process had been refined to three hours, but still had its headaches. “I always have a little bit of blue somewhere,” Lawrence told Jimmy Fallon. “Before it was kind of like everywhere. Now it’s just kind of like on my hands and ears. I look like I have a bizarre fungus.” 

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John Rhys-Davies in the Lord of the Rings trilogy

The actor had a severe allergic reaction to the facial prosthetics required to play Gimli the dwarf. “I just developed a topical eczema and it gave me a complete skin peel right round the eyes. I mean complete. I mean just raw meat — wet, raw meat,” he revealed on an Australian talk show.  The experience was so miserable that it was one of the reasons he declined a role in the new Hobbit films. “Really I am not sure my face can take that sort of punishment anymore,” the Welsh actor told Empire Online.

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Mickey Rourke in Sin City

His virtually unrecognizable role as Marv helped kick off Mickey Rourke’s comeback, but wearing a completely different face proved difficult. “All that prosthetic makeup drains you. By the time it’s lunch you’re done,” Rourke complained to BBC News.

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Buddy Ebsen and Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz

Perhaps no one in movie history suffered more from their makeup than Buddy Ebsen, who was originally cast as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. His face was powdered with aluminum dust to appear silver; unfortunately, inhaling that dust resulted in his lungs failing, requiring a hospital stay to recover. He was replaced by Jack Haley, whose make-up was modified to avoid the same problem. Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch, was also stuck with toxic makeup: She had to drink her meals through a straw to avoid the green copper sludge on her face. 

Photo credits: Jay Maidment/Marvel, 20th Century Fox, New Line, Dimension Films, MGM