It’s impossible to watch or even think about David Lynch’s Dune and not want to know more about it. Everything about the movie—its adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel, incredible cast, groundbreaking visual effects, out-of-this-world costumes, and controversial legacy—screams for an equally epic dissection. And now that long-awaited, much-needed deep dive has become a reality.
It’s called A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch’s Dune – An Oral History by author Max Evry. Out on September 19 (but available to preorder now), it’s a 560-page hardcover comprised of interviews with the actors, artists, executives, and insiders who made Dune (including Lynch himself, of course) that promises to “weave together behind-the-scenes events from all production phases” including the “immediate aftermath and its controversial legacy.”
To illustrate just a taste of that, io9 has an exclusive excerpt from the book. Here, we learn more about the unforgettable, nightmarish suit worn by actor Kenneth McMillan as the evil Baron Harkonnen. You’ll hear from the people who designed and made the suit, actress Sean Young, and even a bit about Sting’s nipples. Yup, this book has it all.
The excerpt starts below the photo of the book.
The major makeup effects and appliances were created by Giannetto De Rossi and his main assistant Luigi Rocchetti. The heavy fat suit worn by Kenneth McMillan was a collaboration between De Rossi and Bob Ringwood’s costume team, and even included a cup and catheter system developed by NASA so the actor could pee in-suit.
LUIGI ROCCHETTI (Makeup Artist): I loved all the actors on Dune; there is not a favorite. The main contact was with Kyle, Siân, and Sean Young, but all are a precious memory.
SEAN YOUNG (Actor, “Chani”): I love Luigi. He’s so sweet. The main guy, the bigger guy, the older guy—Giannetto—did Kenneth McMillan with all the pustules on his face.
JANE JENKINS (Casting Director): Ken was huge, literally and figuratively. He was great. The performance was just under camp. I remember David saying he wants all these pustules on his face and I was like, “Okay . . .”
ERIC SWENSON (Visual Effects, Motion Control): Nobody has matched his Baron, man. He was the best. The grossest, the most disgusting. So, so repulsive.
TERRI HARDIN (Stillsuit Fabrication, Stunt Double): Ken McMillan, what a pain in the ass! We were like, “He’s perfect!” We had to do his body cast, and he whined and moaned. I kept wanting to say, “If you stop whining, it’ll be done and you can go home.” Played opera really loud while we did the casting. He was perfect for the Baron—we could see why David Lynch cast him because he was this whiny, pissy guy. You see him as the Baron, and he’s great, the same pissy, moany character, and you just giggled. He was so funny; it shows you what an actor brings to it, and he did a fantastic job.
BOB RINGWOOD (Costume Designer): He was adorable, that man. He was the funniest man you’ve ever seen in the world, so charming and lovely. He used to go out into restaurants with the makeup on and the painted nails of the Baron. Everybody was wondering what the fuck he was doing in this restaurant!
SEAN YOUNG (Actor, “Chani”): Kenneth had to get all those pustules on his face. He used to fall asleep in this sort of barbershop chair that would lean back. He would lie down and fall asleep while they did all the stuff. It was amazing. There was a lot of contribution by the makeup people.
LUIGI ROCCHETTI (Makeup Artist): Even for the Baron, the ideas came from Giannetto and David, who wanted it as ugly as possible. Despite the antiquated materials, the result was excellent thanks to the great merit of Kenneth, who was able to give life to the character. The body was not made by us, but we made it up and added some hair with the punching system.
BOB RINGWOOD (Costume Designer): When we designed the Baron, that was all rather sinister because it was made of colostomy bag rubber. It somehow informed the costume. That silicone fat body was made by Peyton Massey, a rather strange, eccentric man.
MARY VOGT (Costume Assistant): Bob found this guy who was a prosthetics man near Wilshire Boulevard who made prosthetic eyes, and for some reason, Bob thought he would be great to make the Baron Harkonnen outfit. He thought he would bring something interesting or real to it. He was one of the first people that did a lot of silicone implants and stuff, and Bob wanted that for the suit because he’s supposed to be fat.
BOB RINGWOOD (Costume Designer): It was basically made as an interior body that fitted Ken and an exterior body that was cut like the fat suit. Then it was put on the stand, and they injected silicone until it filled the body and then let it set.
JOHN PATTYSON (EPK Producer): We were there the first day Kenneth had the fat suit on, and he freaked out. He just couldn’t believe it because it really was a fat suit. He probably weighed 300-plus pounds with that thing on, but he was friggin’ hilarious. He was walking around in the fat suit doing jokes and things.
LUIGI ROCCHETTI (Makeup Artist): Poor Kenneth was harnessed and supported by steel wires and hung for several hours. The silicone body weighed about 180 pounds, a huge effort for the actor.
BOB RINGWOOD (Costume Designer): Ken insisted that if it was a 400-pound man, his suit must weigh 400 pounds, and it nearly killed him, poor Ken. When we put him in that suit, he couldn’t walk because it was too heavy. Then we had to have an A-frame made because when he was on the set he never walked, even when he wasn’t in shot. He was always on wires because he couldn’t stand up in the suit. Those guys that did the flying rigs were bloody good. The one where he goes round and round Sting was an amazing rig because it was like a whirligig in the air.
MARY VOGT (Costume Assistant): That suit the Baron wore weighed a ton, miserably uncomfortable. I remember saying to Kenneth once, “I’m sorry this weighs 500 pounds.” He goes, “No, I love it because it’s so horrible, it really helps my character.” He had this leather coat over it. When it came to the S&M stuff, Kenneth McMillan was there in a heartbeat. He jumped on that; he loved that. I don’t remember discussions about it. It was just like, “This is what it is.” Kenneth McMillan was right there: “I love this stuff! I love this stuff!” All the Harkonnen people were totally into that—there was no pushback from them. Sting was like, “Okay, this is what I wear.” His was more of a sculpted costume, and then the flying jockstrap . . . Somehow Bob got him to wear that, because later he was like, “I can’t believe I wore that.” But he looked fabulous. He was in perfect shape. He looked like a sculpture coming out of the steam.
One of the most iconic images in Dune is the winged jockstrap Sting wears with gusto. A rumor has persisted that Sting was meant to originally appear nude.
MARY VOGT (Costume Assistant): He was always going to be covered up due to the rating. There was no frontal nudity in this Universal movie they were hoping to get a big audience for.
CRAIG CAMPOBASSO (Production Office Assistant): Sting was a very nice man. I sent him a bunch of the press stuff back when we were still at Universal and asked him to sign the picture of him in the winged jockstrap. He mailed it back, and I was like, “Oh, he didn’t sign it? Why didn’t he sign it?” I was upset, just put the picture in my closet. Years later, I got it out, and I’m looking at it and right around his nipple he wrote “Sting” really small.
To read more, grab a copy of A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch’s Dune – An Oral History by Max Evry.
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