Last week, when the Academy announced Oscar nominations, hair and makeup designer Donald Mowat was on set in Spain, hard at work on his next project. When he found out that his fantastic work for Dune was nominated, it was the culmination of over 35 years of incredible creations being celebrated for the first time by his peers. For Mowat, an Academy member who over 20 years, he couldn’t believe it happened, and still can’t we I spoke with him recently, but takes a lot of pride in this honor because it’s for a movie and team he truly loves.
Known for working with actors Mark Wahlberg, Daniel Craig, Ryan Gosling, and Jake Gyllenhaal as their make-up artist, and being the department head for movies like First Man, The Fighter, Skyfall, Prisoners, Sicario, and Blade Runner 2049, Mowat’s dedication to his craft has garnered praise by many in the industry, thus making him one of the most reliable artists working today in the business. On Dune, he and his team’s collaboration built upon their director’s vision to create unique looks for each character and the story they are telling. Between extensive research and detailed “vision boards,” they were able to successfully separate the work on this film from any of the previous versions of Dune we had seen before.
I sat down with Mowat back at the 2021 Middleburg Film Festival, right before the release of the film and before he and his team have gone on to win award after award for their work on Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi spectacle. In this interview, I asked him about his reaction to being nominated for his first Oscar nomination (and a fun story of how he found out), what Dune has meant to him, his team’s work on the villainous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (an oft-naked Stellan Skarsgård), dealing with weather difficulties on shooting on location in Budapest, and his excitement for working on Dune: Part 2. And while he’s a little nervous about the outcome of the Oscars in late March, he is mostly excited to get back together with Denis and the team behind Dune one last time to celebrate their epic achievement.
This audio interview, which runs 51m, might contain spoilers, so if you have not seen Dune, go watch the film and come back to this conversation.
Dune is available to buy on Blur-ray and DVD, as well as to own or rent on all VOD platforms. It will return to HBO Max in March 2022.