Sunday 29 April 2018

Discovery behind the scenes: Aliens

Aside from the Klingons, and Saru, Discovery so far hasn't featured a huge number of aliens, but those that have turned up have been a nice mix of updated classics, and new species. Today I'm going to take a look at the alien visitors to set, as shared by the cast and crew, in celebration of the design and prosthetics teams that have brought them to life.

First up, here's a nice image shared by the Discovery Instagram account, with busts of several aliens from the series: Saru, a couple of Klingons (including the helmet), a Tellarite, and a Crepusculan.

And here is one of those Tellarite's brought to life, as photographed by writer Bo Yeon Kim:

Make-up artist Glenn Hetrick spoke a little about the redesign of the Tellarites in an interview with TrekMovie at Wondercon last month:
[Tellarites were] a tall order, if you go back to TOS. There were some awesome versions on Enterprise, that’s a cool way to evolve the Tellarites.  They were kind of a minor thing, just a little bit. We went back to the original, and how can we try to get that “thing”, that feel back into this but not make it look like it did then. So I really looked at Stan Winston’s work on The Island of Doctor Moreau, now almost a lost film, the Val Kilmer version.  So many of those anthropomorphic forms, animal heads, were so beautiful and that is where we took our inspiration.
The Andorians also got an update for Discovery, with little eyebrow-horns on the more prominent Andorian characters. But there were also background Andorians who were left with a more classic look (to save the extra make-up one assumes), as you can see in these photos from Kim again, and her writing partner Erika Lippoldt:

Another returning species were the Orions, which executive producer Aaron Baiers captured enjoying lunch!

And here's an Orion selfie from actress Bree Wasylenko:

You can't really tell from these photos, but the Orion make-up is more nuanced than just a solid coating of green, as make-up artist James MacKinnon told TrekMovie:
[Orion makeup] was four colors we have to spatter and spackle on there just to give it life and depth. Just so it’s not a solid blue, solid green, solid any color character, because that camera is gonna pick up every detail
Moving onto the new: Occasionally seen on the bridge of the Discovery is a large-headed alien called Osnullus. The first image here comes via Make-Up Artists Magazine, who are running a Discovery feature in their latest issue. Other images are via Hetrick's Alchemy Studios, which show off the work done not just on the impressive head, but also intricate hand prosthetics.

Another species introduced early in the series were the Crepusculans, and concept artist Christian Cordella has shared an alternate version (with slightly bolder colouring than that which was eventually used) of their costume design, by Gersha Phillips of course. To bring this curiously positioned alien to life, it was actually played by a contortionist, Bonnie Morgan.

One of the most prominent aliens, the tardigrade, was wholly non-humanoid, and all CGI. But sometimes they still needed something on-set for scale, and so giant cut-outs were produced, as you can see in these slightly surreal images from Kim, and director/producer Olatunde Osunsanmi:

A possible not-alien is Jira Narwani, who is seen wearing a helmet on the USS Shenzhou. David Mack's novel Desperate Hours describes this as a tactical helmet, giving her a virtual reality view of the situation around the ship; I don't believe her species was ever specified though. WKFX, who refer to the character as "snail girl", produced the helmet, and shared these views:

And lead painter at WKFX, Meaghan Lynch, also shared a couple of photos, of both regular helmet and damaged version:

And here are the rest of the Shenzhou crew, via Sonequa Martin-Green herself. Another alien here is Troke, which again Desperate Hours fleshes out, revealing he is a Tulian - A cousin species of the Bolians, who have a thing for cybernetics.

I'm going to look at some of the more prominent alien characters separately later, but I shall end this installment with a few close encounters between Saru and the Klingons on set. Via Mary Chieffo, here she is with Doug Jones enjoying smoothies (which is often just about all the heavy-prosthetic actors can eat!):

Amd the same pair with showrunner Aaron Harberts:

And finally, in motion, from Kenneth Mitchell (aka Kol), a Klingon and a not-yet-Kelpien dance party:

Check back soon for further coverage of Saru, Airiam, and the Klingons, among other behind the scenes looks at Discovery. For listings of all my other behind the scenes Discovery coverage so far, and an overview of everything else to do with the production and tie-in products for the series, see my Discovery guide page.

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