What to Eat When You’re Stuck in Makeup for 5 Hours

Rachel Tepper Paley

Photo credit: Marvel Studios

Seen “Guardians of the Galaxy" yet?

The sci-fi blockbuster, which features a literally colorful cast of characters, required actors to endure as many as five hours in the makeup chair. Zoe Saldana’s green-all-over look is the layered product of three complementary emerald tones. Dave Bautista’s intricately etched red tattoos on gray skin are the result of painstakingly brushed, splattered, and sponged green, yellow, and red makeup.

Beautification aside, upon learning this, we only had one thought: How does someone eat in heavy special effects makeup, anyway?

For an answer we appealed to John Blake, a makeup industry veteran who has worked on more than 50 films—including the auditions for “Guardians of the Galaxy”—over the course of his 30-year-plus career.

“Sometimes, I’ve seen people [wearing] a costume for as long as 16 hours,” Blake told us. And these are heavy-duty costumes: On the set of the 1988 film “Gorillas in the Mist,” actors wore cumbersome costumes that made eating incredibly difficult. ”These guys were wearing full gorilla suits, and the mouth didn’t line up with the actor’s mouth,” Blake said. Rather than letting the actor take off the suit for a grub break, “they had to open up the neck of the costume and push inside a long straw.”

In his years on the job, Blake has seen his fair share of protein shakes and green drinks. (Of course; it’s Hollywood!) Actors who need to bulk up tend to eat hearty protein-rich and lean fare like chicken, eggs, and fish—but cut into teeny, tiny pieces to accommodate those bulky costumes. (On the other end of the spectrum, those looking to slim down favor ”a mixture of really strong coffee, coconut oil, and protein powder” drunk through a straw.)

Eating a slice of pizza or a plate of saucy ribs is obviously a no-no, Blake said, but that doesn’t mean some don’t attempt it. “There’s always that one guy who tries to eat ribs or something, and everything had to be redone,” he said.

But there are some easy secret tricks, too. While working on the set of several “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, Blake’s team figured out a simple dining solution to the heavy beards glued to many actors’ faces: ”At lunchtime, we just took their mustaches off. Everybody is sitting around with a beard without a mustache!”

You heard it here first, folks: Be like a superstar, take off your mustache, and tuck in. (Tips from the pros.)