This week’s episode of Face Off presented the Syfy network with the perfect opportunity to promote its upcoming post-apocalyptic series. After Defiance writer-producer Kevin Murphy introduced the aliens that will be featured on the show, contestants were tasked with creating a hybrid of two of the otherworldly species.
Fan favorite Eric Fox knew this challenge would be “right up his alley” when he saw the Mutant, but each creature could only be used twice, and Anthony Kosar and Kris Kobzina staked claims before it was Fox’s turn to choose. After struggling with his concept, Fox delivered a makeup that received praise from all three judges, as well as the guest judge, Defiance producer Michael Nankin. Glenn Hetrick even said Fox “took a big stride forward as an artist” with his work. But there was criticism too: Ve Neill disliked the creature’s hair, and Nankin thought the design was more a patchwork of two species rather than a true hybrid. After all was said and done, Fox was sent home.
EW talked with Fox about his final Face Off challenge, his young daughter’s reaction to seeing her dad on TV, the massive giant he created earlier in the season, and what he’s been working on since filming wrapped.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What kind of response did you get from your fans and family after last night’s episode aired?
ERIC FOX: The fan base that’s come from this has been overwhelming. It’s actually incredible, the amount of stuff that people were posting up on the forums. My personal Facebook had over 150 wall posts from other people last night, and [I got] 500-some emails. It was crazy. It’s weird, because I’m one of those guys who’s used to making monsters in his garage and working on these indie films and stuff. I do my craft for the love of the passion. To get notoriety and get stopped when I’m in 7-Eleven – it’s a trip. The really cool thing is just all these inspirational emails that I get constantly about how parents are excited because their kids are getting into the arts and doing makeup or filmmaking. Especially with all of the public school systems cutting a lot of the art [programs], I think this is a great way to introduce kids to the fundamentals of art. We deal with painting and sculpting and sketching. It’s really cool to introduce a whole new generation to a lot of this stuff. Anytime I can inspire a kid to do something positive, it’s great. Makeup is the thing that really got me out of trouble as a teenager. My friends were all getting into trouble and drugs and all this stupid s—. I ended up sneaking into my mom’s makeup and watching monster movies.
How did you get started doing monster makeup?
I was fascinated by the movie magic. When I was growing up trying to learn how to do this stuff in the ’80s, we didn’t have YouTube. We didn’t have Google. We couldn’t just go online and order everything we needed or watch 20 different tutorials on how to pour a latex mask. It was trial and error. I think I learned 30 different ways how not to do crap before I learned how to do stuff.
Even though you were eliminated, the judges actually had a lot of nice things to say about your makeup.
At that point, I was surrounded by such talented, talented artists that all deserve to be there, so it was one of those situations where I was fine with it. I was surprised I lasted as long as I did with the shenanigans I pulled on the show. I was just honored to be with those guys.
Is there anything that you would do differently if you had this challenge to do over again?
No, because at the end of the day, I went out with a good makeup. I went out with something that I was proud of that was a little different from what I would normally do. I try not to do anything I have regrets about. I just wish I could have had a chance to do cleaner hair work. But for a 14-hour, full-body monster suit, if I didn’t get a chance to hand-lay the beard, I’m not going to cry about it.
Why weren’t you with your fellow contestants when they visited the set of Defiance in Toronto?
My wife was dealing with some stuff at the house here with the kids. It was one of those situations where I couldn’t be that far away from the kids at that particular point in time.
Aside from that trip home, did you get to see your family during production?
Never. We really can’t have any contact with the outside world the whole time that we’re there. That’s what was draining and grueling.
No Skype sessions with family after a long day at the lab?
No, nothing. And I understand it. It’s to keep our head in the game and to not get homesick. If I was talking to my kids and my wife every night before a challenge, I’d spend a lot more time worrying and stressing about anything going on at home. I see why they do it. It actually did nothing but make my family stronger.
In last night’s episode, we got a sense of the difference between polyfoam – which you, Kris, and Wayne were stuck using on Day 3 – and foam latex, which Anthony managed to make time for. What’s the difference between the two molding methods.
We had a polyfoam party, man! Polyfoam is a two-part liquid – you mix the components together. It’ll rise up really quick and, depending on the density of the foam, you can get it to be harder or softer. But primarily, it’s used for a back filler for props. It’s almost like a seat cushion-type foam that you can basically pour in a mold. What you do is you put a latex skin or silicon or whatever and you basically skin the mold. Because of time restraints, we had to use polyfoam – it’s basically the same material as a Halloween mask, like rubber. It doesn’t have the flexibility of the foam latex, which has foaming agents. It’s whipped in mixers for a very specific recipe to refine it, so it’s more like the consistency of a fluffy cool whip. When you put that into the mold and bake it, when it dries, it’s very spongy and light and transfers facial motion really well through the prosthesis.
This season, you showed your talent for getting a lot done in a short period of time.
I think what it is it just boils down to is the fact that I’m just a madman. At the end of the day, every single one of us there can do a great, clean, pretty pristine makeup. Every single one of us can do a flawless application with proper time. The previous seasons, it was mostly faces or partial appliances, a lot of body-painting. I’m a creature guy, and luckily I just happened to get on a season where there’s a bunch more creature guys. We just came to the conclusion, “Hey, who gives a s— if our paint’s not done? Let’s do a full-body creature suit!” The approach we took is basically to try to raise the bar and step it up to the next level from the very beginning. The very first challenge, our sand demon that we did was full-body latex. And the cool thing is, the other boys can keep up.
The two-headed giant you created in episode 5 was crazy – was it hard for the model to get around in that prosthetic?
It actually wasn’t as heavy as it looked. For that, it all started with the candy blob from the previous episode. Basically the candy blob was such a big thing because with that character, I basically sculpted a full fat suit, sculpted a face – just an insane amount of sculpting and fabrication on that. And those molds were so heavy. Before we even got the giant challenge, I told all the guys in the house, “Look, I don’t care what the hell challenge we get next, all I’m gonna do is a prosthetic nose. That’s it.” And we laughed about it and stuff. Well, we get the giant challenge, and I get teamed up with Kris, who is one of the cleanest technical application guys on my season. I’m like, “Okay, Kris, we’re gonna do just a nose on the actor. The rest is a costume.” But that’s basically what we did. That whole giant was just one rubber nose. That was it. And the rest was technically a costume. Up until that point, Glenn kept giving us crap about our costumes. So I’m like, “Alright, we’re going to make the most elaborate costume.” There was a lot of thought that went into it. It was really, really fun and it worked. Kris is a madman too. I love that guy. I can’t thank Kris enough for having the balls to go along with it.
What has it been like watching the show as it airs?
It’s funny because in my head I’m way cooler and much more good-looking, [Laughs] so seeing myself on TV is kind of a shock sometimes. I think the great thing is you really get to sit back and appreciate the work of the other artists. [During production] you’re so caught up in the moment of dealing with your [own makeup]. You’re taking glimpses of these other fantastic art pieces as you’re running by. You run by, saying “Oh my God, that’s really great.” Then you’re thinking, “Oh s—, that’s really great.” But 99 percent of the time you forget it’s a competition until you’re up there in front of the judges. And that’s the way we like it.
How have your kids reacted to seeing their dad on TV?
The novelty’s definitely worn off by this point. It is weird because I’m a makeup artist, and now I’m getting treated like a rock star. To me, it’s absolutely funny, and to my older daughter, Lily, who’s about 11 now, she’s over the novelty. She’ll make fun of me. She’ll go, “Ooh, can I get your autograph?” The wife, she’s getting a kick out of it. And at the end of the day, my kids are very proud of me.
You didn’t get to do a mutant makeup as you hoped to in this episode, but you did get to make a mutant for Face Off: Redemption.
I liked the mutant thing. It was a cool twist. It was more superhero-y mutants as opposed to toxic, fleshy mutants. Eric [Zapata], he’s all about the comic books. He does great work. I think everything happens for a reason. I’m not having to go straight onto season 5 because so much great stuff has transpired from season 4, so it’s cool to kind of go along with that ride for a while. If the opportunity for [an] all-star [season] or something like that ever does pop up in the future, I’d love to be a part of it.
What have you been working on since filming of Face Off wrapped?
I’ve actually been doing some stuff with Mike Diva. He just won the MTV [Clubland's Video Pick of the Year] for his “Kill the Noise” video. He hooked up with us after that video and hired us to do some stuff for BlackBoxTV. We did this film called Proxy, which is based on The Slender Man mythology. We worked on some silicon, prop-type stuff for a Steve Aoki video that’s going to be on MTV any day now. We also got a Mortal Kombat commercial we’re about to gear up for with the same director, Mike Diva. There’s a lot of stuff in development right now.
We’re opening up our studio [for Morb-x FX]. I’m looking at five different warehouses later today. We just got our funding to get into our studio, and we’re buying all kinds of new equipment and supplies. We’re going to launch a merchandise line here pretty quick.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome