Last night’s episode of Face Off was a real mother.
Introducing the Spotlight Challenge, host McKenzie Westmore instructed the group to create a Mother Nature goddess whose look incorporated a feature in honor of each contestant’s own mother. Appearing as a guest mentor, last season’s champion Anthony Kosar advised the artists to focus on “soft, subtle, and elegant” looks that emphasized “feminine features.”
After seeking further inspiration from a botanical garden, the eleven remaining contestants went straight to work. Though season two’s Miranda Jory — who was on a winning streak — said she was “inspired by my mother every single challenge,” this wasn’t her week. Instead, season three’s Laura Tyler was declared the winner for what judge Glenn Hetrick called “cool, interesting sculptural decisions that were complimented by a beautiful and intricate paint job.”
Meanwhile, season two’s Robert “RJ” Haddy and newbies Scott Ramp and Eddie Holecko found themselves on the chopping block. While judge Ve Neill told Holecko that his warrior goddess lacked femininity, it was ultimately Haddy for turning in a character that Neill called a “total failure.”
Read on to see what Haddy had to say about being back on the show, what he would have done differently, and what he’s been working on since filming wrapped.
Entertainment Weekly: What was it like to be back on the show?
Robert “RJ” Haddy: It was quite a shock to even be asked. With these kinds of shows you expect something like that to happen eventually, but I don’t think any of us expected to be called in so soon. It was kind of shocking, but it was nice to see everybody again. I think I’ve established a nice rapport with everyone who works on the show. It was cool to make fun stuff again.
How was this season different for you?
It would have been nice to win, but the approach I went with was… When I got there and I saw who we were up against, I thought, “Well, I’ll have fun and make some fun things while I’m here as long as I can stay.”
Was there a particular veteran you were especially shocked to see or intimidated by?
I don’t know that I was shocked to see any of them. They were, in my mind, some of the strongest competitors and most talented artistically that have been on the show. I don’t think I was intimidated because we’ve all established a nice community with each other. I just thought there were some talented people there to the point that [I thought], “Oh gosh. This is going to be harder than I thought it would.” The environment was much different this time around. I think some people came back into it with… I don’t want to say a vendetta, but they felt like they needed to prove themselves. It was competitive this time. More so, than I think, on season two.
What was it like having Anthony Kosar on the show?
I love Anthony. Every time he opens his mouth I learn something. He’s an inspirational artist, he’s a wonderful person, he has a great personality. Everything he did on season four, I was impressed with. Not once did he disappoint me.
What was your initial reaction to this week’s Spotlight Challenge?
I thought, “Really? Have we reached the bottom of the barrel?” It was upsetting to me because I felt like I had just tackled this the last time people saw me. It was the exact same character I created, so I was distraught about presenting something that was a rehashing of what I had just done. In my mind, it didn’t matter if I presented something that was a rehash, they would have a fit over that. If I presented something new, who knows? I thought, “Maybe it would be safer to do something newer and original, rather than rehashing something they’ve already seen from me.” I always felt like, with every challenge, you should do that anyway. Rehashing make-up that you’ve already done is not fair because every time you do make-up you’re better at it. I don’t think that’s fair to yourself. You’re not challenging yourself. And you’re definitely not playing fair either. I did see several people regurgitate things this season that they had done in the past. Does that mean they’re better at them? Probably. Because every time I do make-up it gets better every single time. Especially if it’s the same thing. I wouldn’t say [people did] a complete regurgitation, but definitely I saw some re-imaginings of things from some people. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to take the easy way out. I wanted to do something that was challenging to me. As a creative person, when a job offer comes across your desk you can say, “Well, that’s not really something I’m interested in. I’ll pass on that.” You can’t do that on this show. You have to do everything that comes across your desk. You have to find something in every challenge that you can call your own and [do] something that motivates you. That’s what I did. I tried to find something that would motivate me to do something fun.
Tell me a little about the concept behind your Mother Nature goddess?
The funny thing was… In the interview process [for the on-camera recaps], one of the interviewers had said to me, “How come we haven’t seen any RJ make-up yet?” And I said, “What’s RJ make-up?” They said, “We haven’t really seen a chest of drawers or a shark lawyer or a velociraptor, nothing that’s been signature to your style yet.” I said, “I didn’t feel like it was something that I could work into any of the challenges as they were presented up to that point. If something does present itself like that, then I would take that idea.” They said, “Don’t you think your fans want to see that?” and I said, “I guess they do, but they’ll have to hold off until I can actually work it in there.” Well, that wasn’t the best way to do it because immediately after that interview we got this challenge and the thing about our mothers came into play and my mom has always been the funniest person I’ve ever met. She makes us laugh without even trying. I thought, “That’s a great way to work humor into this character.” I thought that might appease the fans. Whether or not they were even wanting to see that I don’t know, but that was the bug that was put in my ear. So I was thinking that as I went into the design process.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do the challenge again?
I probably would have kept the same concept because I really think that the concept is clever and I liked the idea. If I were to do something different, I would not have gone with the large wig. I might have made a sculptured piece or a head-piece… like an actual sculpted beehive. But I saw a trend in the make-ups that were being presented. There were large hair pieces in some of the ones that were ending up winning in top looks. There were large Lady-Gaga type, Frankenstein pieces. The pig had a large wig and it was in the top looks. The rat had a large hairdo. So I thought, “Maybe I’ll do a large hair do this time.” It just didn’t work out for me in the end. They didn’t like it.
Well, everyone has their own opinion, right?
That’s thing you start to realize. At the end of the day, it’s just three people’s opinions.
Who are you personally rooting for in the competition?
That’s a loaded question. I’ll get in trouble if I answer that. I’m rooting for all of them.
What have you been working on since you left the show?
Right now I’m producing and directing my own film, which is really cool. We have an IndieGoGo [crowdfunding platform] campaign and we’re raising money for it. It promises to be a fun experience. I want to use that to transition to other artistic endeavors. Directing, producing, acting, and writing are definitely on the list of things to do. The project is called The Family Business and its a supernatural horror, dark comedy with a quirky, Addams Family type humor. I’ve always wanted to try [my hand at directing] and I thought, “There’s no time like the present. Nobody is going to hand you opportunities in life. You have to make things happen for yourself.” We’re hoping to start shooting the spring. If people want to help contribute, they can jump on our IndieGoGo page.
Face Off airs Tuesday’s on the Syfy channel at 9/8c.