How ‘Barbarian’ Actor Matthew Patrick Davis Turned Into Monster

How ‘Barbarian’ Actor Matthew Patrick Davis Turned Into Monster

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SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read unless you’ve seen ‘The Barbarian’, which is now in theaters.

Actor Matthew Patrick Davis flew blind when he signed up to play the monstrous mother in 20th Century Studios’ horror hit “Barbarian.”

“There are usually renderings you can see, but I didn’t get to see anything,” he explained, after auditioning for the role via Zoom. “I was on the plane to Bulgaria and crossed my fingers, hoping it would be convincing.”

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Tests to perfect the appearance of the mutated matriarch in writer-director Zach Cregger’s nightmare continued until the last minute. According to the actor, the first iteration was “a bit cartoonish” because of her
teeth and head too big and breasts that “looked like she’d had cosmetic surgery.” The process included feedback from both the director and Davis himself. Happy with the result, he admitted, “it was touch and go, but the effects team in Bulgaria was excellent.”

Matthew Patrick Davis stripped naked for “Barbarian” transformation.

Yana Blajeva

Rather than Mother being a one-piece bodysuit with other prosthetics added, the creation involved the actor being essentially naked in some uses, or, as Cregger described it to him, “ass out.”

“They did experiment with making a cast of my butt during one of the makeup tests,” he recalls. “I had a weird plastic fake ass, but it looked so bad it was like, ‘We’re just going to have it with a thong.'”

The director of the film asked Davis to shave his legs, arms and eyebrows, but that’s where the artist drew the line. “I did my whole body with Veet, which was a fun experience I’d never had before, but I asked if I couldn’t shave my eyebrows because he was going to cover them with prosthetics,” he explained.

Mother’s look consisted of a headpiece with the wig attached and facial prosthetics, but “her nose is my nose, and her mouth is my mouth.”

The effects teams used false teeth to push Davis’s mouth out and change the shape of his face. Mother’s gaze was enhanced by body painting, adding scars, bleaching the actor’s body, and covering it with dirt — including under his toenails, which Davis says he “could never get out of.” Davis was also given prescription contact lenses, an adaptation suggested by fellow actor Doug Jones, to change the color of his eyes.

Matthew Patrick Davis’ transformation as “Mother”

Yana Blajeva

However, some prosthetics proved more problematic, namely Mother’s sagging breasts and a “weird brand thing covering the front of my crotch.”

All of these factors, and the nature of the prostheses, influenced when Cregger and his team were able to incorporate specific sequences. “They knew they’d be most convincing at the start of the day when I step out of the makeup trailer,” Davis recalled. “As soon as I start moving or sweating you start to see the seams, so for any close-up work they would make sure they did that first and all wide shots at the end of the day.”

“They learned that the crosspiece was perhaps the least convincing,” he laughed. “They’d say, ‘Matthew, if you jump in the well, you can use your arm to cover your crotch, that would be great.'”

Yana Blajeva

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