Jan Sewell is the renowned hair and prosthetics designer who famously transformed Rami Malek into Queen icon, Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’! She tells HollywoodLife that 20 sets of teeth were created and used on Malek!
When it comes to Hollywood’s toughest makeup, hair and prosthetic jobs, the movie industry’s elite know who to call — Jan Sewell. She is the same designer who transformed Eddie Redmayne into Stephen Hawking for The Theory of Everything. Now, she’s headed into awards season being recognized for her latest work in which she transformed Rami Malek, 37, into Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. And, it wasn’t an easy feat.
Mercury was known for many things, but it was his teeth that stood out in interviews, on stage and anywhere else his star power took him. Not to mention, Mercury wasn’t a quiet guy, either — keeping himself under-the-radar wasn’t something he did well. But, that’s what fans loved about him. He was outspoken, which meant there were and are tons of photos and videos of him out there. So, Sewell had her work cut out for her to create the most believable rendition of Mercury on Malek. And, that took 20 sets of prosthetic teeth.
“The teeth are really important and I have to say once I got the job and I knew it was Rami doing it, I approached Chris Lyons who has a company called Fangs FX,” Sewell explained to HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview. “He told me that Rami in fact had been practicing with some teeth for quite a few months, and I thought that was kind of exciting.” She continued: “For the first make-up test I asked Chris to make me three sets of teeth. — The first set to be an absolute scaled replica of Freddie Mercury’s teeth, and a medium size and maybe a smaller size.”
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
Sewell admitted that matching the right teeth for Malek was a process of trial and error. “When we got Rami to try the exact teeth, they were too big. We did go on to make 20 sets of teeth. Admittedly, some of them were doubles and back-up teeth, but we just kept changing them. Everybody was very aware that the teeth had to be there, but they couldn’t be so prominent that they would get in the way. We were changing them — millimeter shorter, a millimeter further back, some teeth without molars in the back. We did eventually get the right set.”
Sewell went on to confirm that all 20 sets of teeth were used when filming Bohemian Rhapsody. “Once we got the set that Rami was most comfortable with, I got a couple of pairs of backup sets in case any of them broke,” she said.
When asked about her encounters with Malek, as she had to work very closely with the actor, even putting on his prosthetic nose every day, Sewell said there wasn’t much chatter between the two — but, for good reason. “I was a bit strict actually,” she said, adding that Rami is more of a “live wire.”
“He’s got tons of energy. The first thing I had to do every morning was to put this prosthetic nose on. It’s really difficult if someone’s looking around, bouncing up and down, so in fact, I asked him to go to sleep! Rami was preparing, so he would put his earphones in and he was listening to Queen music. He was prepping depending on what we were shooting that day.”
Sewell, who is nominated for a Best Hair & Makeup BAFTA for her work on Bohemian Rhapsody, is also eligible for an Oscar. The 91st Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, February 24, and will air live on ABC.