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Todd Tucker – Master of Illusion

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Todd Tucker
Todd Tucker
There is seemingly nothing Todd Tucker cannot do. He is a respected special makeup effects artist in Local 706, a DGA director, a SAG actor, producer and a WGA-eligible writer. Tucker has been a critical part of the entertainment and movie industry for over two decades now.

All his experience has paid off, and Tucker is now president of Illusion Industries.

“I spent 15 years working as a special effects artist and creative director, supervising feature films and television shows,” he said. “A few years ago, I started my own production company and began directing and producing in addition to doing makeup effects. In 2010, I partnered up with Ron Halvas and founded Illusion Industries.”

Tucker has set the bar for himself and his company very high with eight feature films coming out in 2013. He and his team at Illusion Industries designed and created the makeup effects for GI Joe: Retaliation, Smurfs 2, The Iceman, The East, Fort Bliss, Fright Night 2 and The Devil’s Pass. Illusion’s television shows include Sons of Anarchy, Wizards of Waverly Place, Big Brother and The Conan O’Brien Show.

Luke Bracey as Cobra Commander in GI Joe: Retaliation
Luke Bracey as Cobra Commander in GI Joe: Retaliation
Tucker has a secret weapon that helps him keep his company cost efficient, yet still able to produce noteworthy special makeup effects. “We have a branch of Illusion Industries in New Orleans and are able to utilize that branch and the tax incentives for films that are shooting there,” Tucker noted. “We have done a number of features out of our New Orleans location. We also have a branch in Moscow and have worked on three Russian films.”

Tucker continues to be passionate and is honored to play such a crucial role in creating the looks of these make-believe characters as they come to life.

For GI Joe: Retaliation, he oversaw some of the special characters required for the film, a sequel to Stephen SommersParamount project. “With the help of key artists Martin Astles and Joe Colwell, we designed and sculpted the looks for the characters in clay, which were then molded and fabricated into prosthetic appliances,” he said. “For the Zartan character, we created 90-year-old lace eyebrows, moustache and beard. There was a prosthetic piece from the nose up, one from the nose down and forehead and neck. We did it so that we could show the appliances for a Chinese makeup on actor Arnold Vosloo. It was a three piece silicone makeup with lace eyebrows, mustache and beard. The makeup was applied by myself and Bart Mixon and took about two-and-a-half hours to apply.”

Todd Tucker (left) and Bart Mixon add the finishing touches to Luke Bracey.
Todd Tucker (left) and Bart Mixon add the finishing touches to Luke Bracey.
“We also re-created the Cobra Commander makeup from the first GI Joe film,” Tucker continued. “It ended up being a five-piece silicone makeup with a fiberglass metal plate piece for his head, lenses and teeth. It also took about two-and-a-half hours to apply. Originally, we were asked to make a small appliance that went around the actor’s eyes for a close-up, but the director wanted to see more and more of the character, so we ended up making the entire head, face and neck.”

With a three-month build in his shop and another two months of shooting at the end of summer going into fall 2012, GI Joe: Retaliation is one of Illusion Industries’ most diverse builds, ranging among old-age makeups, burn makeups, likeness makeups and realistic full-scale dummies of some of the lead actors that were needed for stunts. “Todd Kleitsch and his team did an amazing job with additional on set prosthetics, straight and beauty makeups,” Tucker said. Illusion’s NOLA crew included Tim Jarvis, Adam Walls, Pat Roig and Tommy Hebert.

Hank Azaria as Gargamel in Smurfs 2.
Hank Azaria as Gargamel in Smurfs 2.
For Smurfs 2, Tucker and his team designed and created silicone prosthetics, customized teeth, a lace wig and eyebrows for the character Gargamel, played by Hank Azaria. “I was the special effects makeup department head and applied the makeup with makeup artist Charles Carter,” said Tucker. “The film was shot on high-def Sony cameras, so it was crucial that everything was extremely clean. The production didn’t want the application time to take more than two hours, so the challenge was to do it in less time while making it look twice as good for the camera.”

For the movie The Iceman, Illusion Industries created a 65-year-old makeup on actor Michael Shannon and helped create the period look for Chris Evans. Shannon’s prosthetics were realized in silicone and applied by Tucker and Mixon.

Tucker produced and directed a family film titled Monster Mutt, which was a Wal-Mart exclusive before getting worldwide distribution. The film was distributed by Lionsgate in the U.K. and won best comedy at the International Family Film Festival. In January, it was released on Direct TV, iTunes and Vudu. Next, Tucker will be directing a supernatural action-horror film. “I come up with a storyline and wrote a 20-30-page outline, then I work with a screenwriter to create the finished script,” he said.

Looking to the future, Tucker has high goals for himself and his company and will not give up until they are achieved. “The goal is to continue creating iconic characters for films and television while also directing and producing more in-house projects,” he said. “What can I say? I love what I do.”

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