Face Off Finalist Walter Welsh Talks the Drawbacks of Playing it Safe, the Finale and More [Exclusive]
I always like it when we get to see the artists in action on a movie set. It’s interesting to watch them come up with their creature concepts, consult with their directors and then have to make changes based on the feedback they receive. It shows us how well these contestants can adapt and it doesn’t always go well. So for this final horror-themed challenge, I’m expecting to see Melissa, Rob and Walter pull out all the stops. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.
I had the chance to talk exclusively to Walter Welsh about his wins, what he learned from being in the bottom for the cyclops challenge, his process for the finale and more.
TV GOODNESS: Letâ€™s start talking about the two challenges you won this season for â€œBottled Upâ€ and â€œThe Art of Warcraft.â€ Can you talk a little bit about your process and how you went about achieving your looks for those challenges?
Walter Welsh: “Going into ‘Bottled Up,’ the previous challenge, I think, was the mirrors challenge where we did the evil witches. Before that point I had only been doing things that I thought the judges wanted to see and it was really backfiring on me.
I got to the point where I was homesick, I was tired of being safe and I was like, â€˜You know what? Iâ€™m gonna do makeups that I think are cool. Iâ€™m just gonna be my style and even if the challenge doesnâ€™t call for it, Iâ€™m gonna do my style anyway. Thatâ€™s what I did for the mirrors challenge and I really liked it. Then we moved on and I finally hit a challenge that I could do my own style and do [what] I like and I think looks cool and it also applies to the challenge.
I was just so excited because I had seen theÂ Wishmaster growing up and it was such an influence on me because I loved the makeup. I [wasnâ€™t] gonna go to the Robin Williams â€™You Ainâ€™t Never Had a Friend Like Meâ€™ genie. Iâ€™m gonna do a Wishmaster type, scary, evil jinn genie. That was my process there and I ended up really loving it. I enjoyed that one a lot, just the genre. And I got to do my style so it was a lot of fun for me.”
TV GOODNESS: How about for â€œThe Art of Warcraft.â€ That was a great character.
Walter: “Thank you. Yeah. Iâ€™ve been a huge fan of Face Off since Season 1 and I gotta say that challenge alone has been my favorite challenge â€” not just â€˜cause I participated in it, but it has been my favorite challenge that Iâ€™ve seen the show do.
When we walked into the lab and saw that statue that was done by Steve Wang and all that amazing Warcraft stuff that was all over, I was super excited. I knew this was a challenge I could do good at.
I initially wanted the Tauren. I was really upset because I told Rob I wanted the Tauren and he went for it anyway. But my second choice was the Draenai. It had a predator feel to it and I love Predator a lot and I was really looking forward to making tentacles. So, I went with that and just had so much fun.
I actually took a bunch of pictures and really referenced that statue that was in the room. I tried to mimic the same patterning and color scheme that was on the statue with my airbrush, just with different colors but the same veining and detailed pieces where it looked with there was pearlescenceÂ on the high points and more blues and cooler colors in the low points. I was trying to mimic that while going with my theme. It was so helpful and so cool.
I ended up really loving that character and everything that my actor did on the stage, it just came to life. As a Warcraft fan it was also super fun and I loved that character.”
TV GOODNESS: You did so many appliances in addition to the makeup and it looked like you managed your time really well. Did you worry about getting everything done or was the bigger concern stepping it up to show the judges what you could do?
Walter: “My personal style is going over-the-top and doing more things than everyone. Sometimes it backfires on me and I canâ€™t get it all done and make it look the way I want to. But the goal of mine usually going into each challenge was, even if I donâ€™t have the best makeup, I want to make sure that itâ€™s more work than anybody here.
With those two challenges specifically, Iâ€™m a really fast sculptor so I just tried to sculpt as amazing as I possibly could. I would manage my time to where if I had the extra time I would fabricate the tail or I would fabricate little pieces and stick them on. You didnâ€™t see, but I fabricated these little cusps that went on those tentacles and that was another little chunk of time that I used.
Most of the time I get done long before everybody else, so it gives me that extra time to fiddle with other things.”
TV GOODNESS: Over the course of the season youâ€™ve had some great guest judges. Was there one you were most excited or nervous about evaluating your work?
Walter: “Rob Kasinsky was probably my favorite guest judge just because he was so cool and so kind. Honestly, when I first looked at him I was like, â€˜Thereâ€™s no way this guy plays Warcraft.â€™ Iâ€™m a huge True Blood fan and I remember him from [that show] and Pacific Rim. I was like, â€˜This guy is awesome, but why is he the Warcraft guest judge?â€™ And then they said he was a top 100 player in the whole world, which made it even cooler â€˜cause it validates everything he says and makes me feel even better because I won the challenge. Heâ€™s saying I fit into the world perfectly and I followed the challenge to the T. It was really cool.
I have to say he was my favorite, but growing up I was a huge Alien fan and Predator, all of that, the whole â€˜80s, â€˜90s sci-fi stuff, I loved. So, I really liked seeing Lance Henriksen. I was definitely extremely excited when he showed up and it was Aliens all over again, everything. That was really, really cool.”
TV GOODNESS: You were in the bottom for â€œKeep One Eye Open.â€ How did that critique help motivate you for the next challenge or did it? What did you take away from that experience?
Walter: “Well, I didnâ€™t feel that I necessarily deserved to be in the bottom, but at the same time I knew my makeup was extremely flawed and other things were happening. My guy was sweating and it was making the makeup extremely difficult — factors that you donâ€™t really get to see, but they definitely do factor in and make things very difficult.
So, being on the bottom, just being nervous and being scared, everything factors in. You definitely donâ€™t want to be there again. It makes my heart pump way faster than it should and Iâ€™m way more nervous and itâ€™s definitely an uncomfortable feeling. So just having that uncomfortable feeling definitely motivated me to not want to have that feeling again.”
TV GOODNESS: I also talked to Melissa Ebbe and asked about the great camaraderie in the lab. I loved it. Can you talk about working with and sometimes against that you became close to?
Walter: “Yeah. Working with everybody was honestly a true pleasure. The only time it ever felt like it was a competition was once we were all done. Because during the process, those guys felt like my team members or my friends or like we were all working together on a TV show. We were trying to produce these makeups for the TV show, is how I was looking at it.
I was never really looking at it like a competition until probably the finale. Once we each had our makeups done thatâ€™s when itâ€™s like,â€™ Ok. I want to win. This is a competition.â€™ But up until that point, I donâ€™t wanna win because Robâ€™s mold broke or Melissa accidentally shattered a piece that she couldâ€™ve used and it wouldâ€™ve helped her win. I want to win because my makeup was better.
Anytime anyone ever needed help I was the first one to offer my whatever I can, my hands. If I gotta share something or I gotta help you clean out a mold, whatever I gotta do Iâ€™m totally willing and itâ€™s a pleasure to have to help. Like I said, I wanna win because what I did is better not because of an accident.
I love those guys and we had to bond every single day. Being stuck with these people, theyâ€™re the only form of entertainment, so those are my close friends as of after Face Off. [Laughs.] They were my form of entertainment. If I needed to cry I could cry on their shoulder, if I needed to vent, thatâ€™s who I had to vent to and Iâ€™m forced to talk and hang out and vent to these people so they become a part of my life and a part of my family and I want the to do good.”
TV GOODNESS: That definitely came across. It seems like you guys had fun together and helped each other and it seemed like a great atmosphere.
Walter: “Absolutely and they were all a true pleasure to have to be around and to work with . I miss them all today and I try to talk to as many as I can. It definitely felt like I built a separate family circle.”
TV GOODNESS: Whatâ€™s the best of advice or the most valuable critique you received either from Mr. Westmore or any of the judges?
Walter: “I definitely took advice from everyone, but the best advice I would ask from Mr. Westmore. They donâ€™t show [it], but Iâ€™d always ask about the molds. Iâ€™d say, â€˜Where would be the best place to line this mold up? Whatâ€™s the best place for the seam?â€™ And he was always so incredibly helpful.
The molding process is only ten seconds on the show, but thatâ€™s usually a whole entire day in real life and itâ€™s crucial. If you donâ€™t do good, it ruins everything and all the drama you see on the show is actually real. That stuff happens. We donâ€™t get our molds out in time. That stuff happens and itâ€™s crucial that itâ€™s done well and itâ€™s done correctly. Iâ€™d always make sure Mr. Westmore told me exactly what to do as far as where to put this here, so I donâ€™t have an undercut.
Ve [Neill] had some criticism that was like, â€˜It sucks or it doesnâ€™t suck,â€™ or â€˜I wouldâ€™ve liked to see some color here.â€™ But usually when Glenn [Hetrick] had advice it was constructive criticism that I took with me to the next challenge, always. He would say, â€˜It would look a lot better of you patterned this much heavier in the back and gradually went to a fade towards the front,â€™ and heâ€™d give us this exact criticism that you can use on the next one and I really, really appreciated that. I took it and used it on the following challenges every single time he said something like that.”
TV GOODNESS: I already know the finale challenge is horror. Tell me who your director is and what it was like to work with them.
Walter: “My director was Ryan Spindell. Working with him was great because Iâ€™m someone who likes to go, like I mentioned, over-the-top and I like to do more than everybody. I want the biggest mold, I want the biggest cowl.
I want to do more pieces than anybody, so he was the one director I felt that wanted to do that also. He wanted more than anybody. He wanted the largest creature possible. He had huge dreams and huge envisions for the project, which was my style because thatâ€™s what I wanna do. I want to make the biggest thing and I wanna use the most pieces. Thatâ€™s my goal, even if I donâ€™t have the best makeup. As long as I have more than everybody and I worked harder, I believe that pays off. So that was awesome to work with Ryan because we had the same mentality about that.”
Walter: “I like being the leader and I like to be in control. I feel that I manage my time well and by doing so I can help others manage their time well. I liked being the team leader and telling them what to do, not in a demanding way but in a strategic way. It was a lot of fun in that sense â€˜cause I had these 2 people helping me out that [could] help me win the challenge or whatever it is. It was really cool.
Initially I was a little shy towards it and I would ask more questions where I should just be telling them what to do. I would ask their opinions even though I have a strong opinion in my head and I donâ€™t really care towards the other one â€˜cause Iâ€™m so strong I just need to go for it. And thereâ€™s really no time to question it.
But overall it was wonderful even though their speed wasnâ€™t up to my speed. They could work on something and then I do bounce over and speed it up and they can come and detail this or touch that or move that. I think we worked extremely well together. It was a different learning experience, but also just a really cool experience with Mel and Robert. We managed to do some things that nobody else did and I also havenâ€™t seen in ten seasons of Face Off.”
Edited for space and content.
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