Face Off Set Visit: Get to Know Host McKenzie Westmore and Judges Ve Neill, Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page [Exclusive]
â€œI need to lube up my model. Anybody got any KY?â€ â€œI do!â€ Yes, this was an actual exchange I overheard during â€˜last looks.â€™
I was excited to visit the set of Syfyâ€™s Face Off because the series is immensely popular and showcases an art form that would otherwise go virtually unseen â€“ the behind-the-scenes world of creating special effects makeup. Now airing its eighth season and still going strong, Face Off has constantly provided jaw-dropping reveals and nail-biting drama from the competition itself â€“ not by fabricating it from contestants cat-fighting like weâ€™ve seen on so many other reality shows. I had the chance to sit down with the showâ€™s host McKenzie Westmore, and judges Ve Neill, Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page to gain more insights into what makes this show so utterly compelling.
TV GOODNESS: Why do you think fans have fallen in love with Face Off?
McKenzie Westmore: â€œYou get to have that instant visual gratification. I also think the fans have really latched onto and love the camaraderie. They love the kindness and the love that happens between the contestants. Thereâ€™s no backbiting, no house drama. We pride ourselves on that.â€
Glenn Hetrick: â€œAudience members are so jaded by reality television that thereâ€™s an inborn assumption that because itâ€™s a reality television show someone must be writing our drama, but nope. Donâ€™t need to. Itâ€™s just about the art and it’s absolutely real. What you see is what you get.”
TV GOODNESS: How did you get your start in this crazy business of special effects makeup and design?
Ve Neill: â€œI always wanted to be a makeup artist ever since I was a little kid, but I was always told I couldnâ€™t do it because I was a woman. I looked into it and sure enough there [were] only men doing makeup. I thought that was so weird. I mean, what do they know about it? They donâ€™t even wear it for Godâ€™s sake, ya know? And itâ€™s still a boys club basically.
I just went in through a back door. I had a business making vintage costumes for rock bands and this one band said this is great, but now we want big heads and pointed ears and stuff. I said I donâ€™t know how to do that right now, but I will go find out. So I went to a Sci-Fi convention and asked some guys in Planet of the Apes makeup if they could teach me how to do that. And they said, â€˜But youâ€™re a girl!â€™ Anyway, thatâ€™s how it started. And the rest is history.â€
Glenn: â€œIt was like I was born with this. When I was a kid I would watch nothing but Adam West’s Batman. If it wasnâ€™t horror, science fiction, or super heroes, I had nothing to do with it. Iâ€™ve been reading every word of Fangoria for as long as the magazine has been around. The first time they gave us clay to play with in school, I tried to sculpt this relief of one of the faces from Planet of the Apes. I was obsessed from childhood. The biggest influence was absolutely the Hammer horror films. Every weekend I watched Hammer movies over and over.â€
Neville Page: â€œMy background is actually industrial design. So I went to school and studied product engineering. It was a hybrid of pure engineering and art. So when I graduated college I went into medical products. I was doing everything from wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds. I always liked creatures and thought it would be cool to do it for fun, but as a career it was never endorsed. There was no place to go to become a creature designer.
We ended up having the opportunity to design a vehicle for a theme park ride at Universal Studios Florida because they needed someone who knew wheelchair users. That ride that we were developing was Men in Black the ride. I thought if they let me design the ride, maybe they’ll let me design a creature just for fun. I ended up leading the whole project for the vehicle, the guns on the vehicle, the interface and I got to do about 75% of the creatures.â€
TV GOODNESS: Since you all already had thriving careers in film and television, what made you say yes when you were approached to do Face Off?
McKenzie: â€œWhen Face Off came along, to me that was like the stars aligning because here Iâ€™m really carrying on the family name. And I got to work with my dad [Michael Westmore], and it was a show about what our family has been involved in for 100 years now.â€
Ve: â€œI think all of us deep down inside, that have done this for so many years, weâ€™ve all thought why donâ€™t they do a reality show on this kind of stuff because itâ€™s so much fun? And everyone always wants to know what we do. So when they asked me I said, â€˜Heck yeah, I want to do that!â€™â€
Glenn: â€œWhen this show came along I thought, ‘Thatâ€™s really exciting.’ First my only concern was that’s gonna be good for one season, but then where are you going to get people who can keep up with that pace? Because two days is like nothing. I think that anything you manage to sculpt, get a mold out and get on someone’s face in two days is awesome. That’s what I liked about this show. I liked the idea of seeing what 13 different people would come up with in only two days each. I canâ€™t get a better job than this – looking at monsters every week? Iâ€™m there!â€
TV GOODNESS: Some of the current contestants on the show actually decided they wanted to become makeup artists because of watching Face Off. What is your response to that?
Ve: â€œI think itâ€™s amazing. I mean were building our own contestant list. Itâ€™s inspirational to give them something to aspire to. I think acknowledgment for the craft is really great. That part is wonderful, because itâ€™s nice for people to know how itâ€™s made and why it takes so long to do it right.â€
Glenn: â€œWe’re starting to grow our own audience. Thatâ€™s wild. Thatâ€™s incredible. Itâ€™s awesome that our show is making people aware of makeup effects and taking artists that didnâ€™t know that they enjoyed this particular paradigm of expression until they see the show and turning them on to it.â€
McKenzie: â€œI love it because Iâ€™ll get fan letters from parents saying, ‘My ten year old now wants to be a special effects makeup artist because of your show.’ To me there’s no bigger compliment.â€
TV GOODNESS: What have been some of your most unforgettable moments over the course of the show?
Neville: â€œDay one of season 3 was quite a day because it was all new to me. It was my first day on the show. I didnâ€™t know if I would fit in. I didnâ€™t know how I would be received. It felt good. It felt right, but we had a contestant who very got upset. This guy was very sensitive, ran off and it got dramatic.â€
McKenzie: â€œGoing all the way back to the season one finale. Gage [Hubbard]‘s makeup that he made in that finale just blew me away.â€
Ve: â€œI couldnâ€™t pick just one. There have been so many cool ones. There was this really cool pumpkin head makeup that Miranda did [in season 5].â€
Glenn: â€œOne of my all time favorites was definitely Tate and Miranda did this scarecrow pumpkin thing which I thought was absolutely gorgeous. There are so many great makeups. There are things that come out so finished I cannot comprehend how it was done in two days.Â Rayce [Bird, winner of season 2 and season 8 mentor] has done some incredible designs. One episode Wayne [Anderson, season 4] came out with a demon that had these giant horns sculpted. There are moments like that in every season where you just go â€˜I cannot believe you managed that.’
I really hope they put a book together of the best of. We’re over a hundred episodes at this point, so it would be really great to see a lot of this stuff celebrated beyond the time it spent on stage in one episode. Thatâ€™s how much I like the stuff they do.â€
TV GOODNESS: Tell us about whatâ€™s happening in season 8 right now. What have been some of your stand out moments so far?
Ve: â€œWe have these champions back and out of those champions those guys did some of the most amazing makeups weâ€™ve had on the show.â€
Glenn: â€œWhatâ€™s so cool about [season] eight is you have the champions coming back and guiding them, trying to avoid those pitfall mistakes that they all know so well because they’ve all done them at least once.â€
McKenzie: â€œMiss Intergalactic which aired last week was one of my favorites. I love it when we have fun and goofiness and a touch of beauty. And to throw an alien aspect into it was amazing.â€
Glenn: â€œThe alien beauty queen episode. We had a really fun time with that. There were some really gorgeous finished makeups in that. There was something about throwing a beauty element at them that made them try to finish with more finesse than if it was just creatures.â€
Ve: “They said, ‘We want to do a Hunger Games inspired challenge. Do you think you could get one of the kids to come?’ And I said, â€˜Iâ€™ll certainly try!â€™ Josh just happened to be in town and he loves the show. All the [Hunger Games] kids love the show because they watch it. So Josh said, â€˜Yeah I want to come on it!â€™ It was cool. He had a ball when he was here.”
TV GOODNESS: One of the difficult parts of a competition is that only one person can win. How do you deal with such talented contestants being eliminated each week?
Glenn: â€œIf I had my druthers all thirteen of them would compete for all the episodes and we’d pick a winner in the finale. Iâ€™d rather see thirteen makeups each week. I hate seeing people go home â€“ even though people blame me because Iâ€™m the one that delivers the bad news. In fact the deliberation process is far more lengthy than you see on-screen. And we argue a lot. It comes down to what were the specific rules and requests of a set challenge and who delivered.â€
Neville: â€œI have been cruel a couple times. And it has not been my intention. I have not gone out there thinking â€˜Today Iâ€™m gonna mess somebody up, do a little Simon Cowell.â€™ But I have gotten lost in the passion of ‘You’ve got to do better. This is unacceptable.’ And some people canâ€™t handle it. Having made one contestant cry, a young guy – that hurt me. I really felt it. I’m not good at upsetting people.”
TV GOODNESS: Is there anything you can tell us about yourself or your co-stars that we might not know?
Neville: â€œIâ€™m fortunate that the biggest dream Iâ€™ve had for many years is coming to fruition – which is directing. So Iâ€™m directing my first feature. We are supposed to do principal photography in November. Weâ€™re shooting in Bangkok. It’s story-driven, a genre piece. It’s horror. It’s a dream come true. It’s titled The Disembodied.”
Glenn [on his many tattoos]: â€œOne of my other passions is the intellectual study of the occult. So everything on my body is a sigil or symbol from one of the ancient religious systems, mostly Judeo-Christian and the whole suit was designed as spiritual armor, if you will. So it’s all interconnected with catalytic lines and it’s just so many hours. Iâ€™ve been drawing them since I was in my twenties. Itâ€™s years and years of work.â€
Ve: â€œGlenn looks like heâ€™s always mean and angry, but Glenn is the most fun, coolest guy youâ€™d ever meet. Heâ€™s one of the most intellectual men I know. And Neville is so well-educated and such an incredible artist in his own right. I feel like a monkey sitting between them half the time because they both have such huge intellects.â€
McKenzie: â€œI love cats and so does Glenn. He told me he takes his cat out in a baby Bjorn on Halloween to look at the decorations.â€
Edited for space and content.
“Super Selfies” synopsis, from Syfy:
The seven remaining artists find themselves staring down the most daunting challenge in Face Off history, as they must create and apply superhero makeups to themselves!
Face Off airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Syfy.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
Interview: Henri Esteve on Grown-ish Season 3
An interview with Henri Esteve, who plays Javi on Freeform’s Grown-ish. He talks about his season three experience.
For All Mankind Season 2: Talking with Wrenn Schmidt, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, and Sonya Walger [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the hooks of For All Mankind is that it’s very much a story about the women of NASA. In Season 2, we explore the journeys of the women in the program, either through their own service or through their family affiliations. Four of those…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Finale [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale episodes.] How’s everyone after that finale? I will freely admit I got a little misty in episode eight as John told Sara why he loved her, and later that he wanted her despite what he might forfeit, and then at the end when he…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness [Exclusive]
Hands down, one of the best surprises of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness is that the serial killer this season has been front and center alongside the cast as a fully-formed character. We’ve watched Libby Hatch devolve from a prim, mild-mannered nurse to a woman in a rage hell-bent on…
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Relationship Recap: John and Sara
[Warning: Spoilers for “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori”] If you’ve read me for a while (thank you!), you know two things — I lean way, way in on the characters I adore and I loathe love geometry arcs. So, I’m torn about where we are and where we…
Louriza Tronco Talks The Order Season 2 [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 2.] The Order’s second season is dark yet delightful entertainment on many levels, and one of its biggest sources of joy and snark is the sassy Gabrielle Dupres. Last season, she was assertive and deadly and fairly annoyed with the world. This season, she’s been…
Previewing Netflix’s Virgin River
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] Full disclosure: I have a Netflix account for my Mom, but I’m not a regular viewer. If I get a heads up on something, I’ll go look for it, but I don’t have a wander across its offerings, which, as I understand it, is how most…
Final Thoughts From the Killjoys Team [Exclusive]
This is the day of the week I’d normally hit you up with a Killjoys preview, but now that we’ve put the series to bed and released Team Awesome Force into the wild, I have one more treat for you–some final thoughts excerpted from my conversations with the Killjoys folks….
Michelle Lovretta Talks Wrapping Up Killjoys [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the series finale.] To quote Miss Jackson, “That’s the end?” Yes, friends, it is. And like I promised you, everything would be, was, and is alright. I went to the Killjoys source, series creator Michelle Lovretta, who wrote the last episode, to break down that delicious finale….
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…