A battle with cancer left film megacritic Roger Ebert without much of the lower half of his face. But he will appear on his new TV show looking quite like his old self. How? A meticulously sculpted prosthetic chin.
In a post on his blog, Ebert outlines the two year process that gave him his new face, which he sported last night on the first episode of his new television program "Ebert Presents at the Movies."
His first thought? A false beard. That didn't get very far. But using 3D photos of Ebert's post-cancer face, and taking an old bust a friend had sculpted as reference, a team of doctors began the tireless task of crafting the perfect chin:
It was a problem finding the right material. Two original models were too stiff, so that my head held upright reminded me of Erich von Stroheim in "Grand Illusion." I couldn't look down easily, which was a problem for walking and typing. Two weeks ago, David was back with a softer silicone that was much more wearable. Since I'd last met him he'd been in Haiti and Guatemala fitting false limbs for children who had lost arms or legs in natural calamities. My problems are small potatoes. David snapped the photo [above] after the fitting, and before the final coloring had been completed. I'd say he and Julie did a pretty wonderful damn job. I like my new prothesis and know from observation their work was painstaking and done with love and care.
Ebert has remained indefatigable in the wake of his illness, blogging about as hard as the entire Gizmodo staff combined on his page at the Chicago Sun-Times website. His prosthetic chin, he explains, isn't to hide his face—his recent Esquire, accompanied by a close-up of his face, stirred an avalanche of attention—but merely to keep his appearance from getting in the way of people listening to his criticism. But it's also a testament to how Ebert hasn't let cancer sidetrack his career even a little bit. "Symbolically," he says of the prosthesis, "it's as if my illness never happened." [Roger Ebert's Journal]