What do the Nightmare on Elm Street horror flicks and the Star Trek franchise have in common? Would you believe… Heather Langenkamp? The actress, who played the resilient heroine Nancy in several Elm Street installments, appeared briefly as an alien – Moto, a Starfleet security officer, in Star Trek Into Darkness. And, more importantly, she and her makeup guru husband, David LeRoy Anderson, run the Los Angeles-based AFX Studio, which created many of the exotic creatures seen in the Trek sequel. StarTrek.com caught up with the effusive Langenkamp recently for a fun and informative interview. Here’s what she had to say.
It’s got to surprise people to learn that Heather Langenkamp from Elm Street is involved in Star Trek…
LANGENKAMP: A lot of people don’t know. I actually have to tell them I’m in the movie because nobody in the world is going to know that on their own, unless they like to read the credits. But I wanted to be in Star Trek really desperately because, after having experienced all the Elm Street fan love, having been a part of the conventions and having been a part of such an iconic franchise, I knew it was something similar with Star Trek. Star Trek has such a great legacy and it means so much to so many people. So, when my husband got the job, when our studio got the job to do the makeups, I begged my husband, like, “Please, can we make one that I can wear?” I tried to be cool about it, but I probably wasn’t very cool. But I was persuasive enough and he caved.
Tell us about the makeup on Moto…
LANGENKAMP: The makeup that I wear is actually a very special design that we’d developed in our studio. There was no movie that it was for, originally. A sculptor had come up with these designs. It was kind of a spec project and it ended up sitting on the shelf for many years. The sculptor actually passed away from a tragic bout with cancer. So we were even more determined to get this makeup on screen and we said, “If it ever gets on screen we’ll call the character Moto,” because that was the name of the sculptor. His name was Moto.
And what was J.J. Abrams’ reaction when David brought it up to him?
LANGENKAMP: J.J. was really open-minded when David told him the scenario and the story, and he loved the design. So we found a place in the film where this character could fit, where it could logically be, which is in the brig. I imagined that Moto is a climate-control officer, keeping the humidity at a proper level. I sat at a desk and had all these dials to play with. It was a beautiful set, of course. It’s every Star Trek fan’s dream to be in a Star Trek movie. So it was exciting. I hope I didn’t jump the shark, but I’m really happy that I got to do it.
How long were you on set playing Moto?
LANGENKAMP: I had three days on set, maybe four. The first day was in the brig, when the Enterprise characters are imprisoning Khan. The second day was also in the brig, when Alice Eve and Simon Pegg get transported back to the Enterprise after their adventure. And then I was in the funeral scene at the very end, but that didn’t make it on screen at all.
Your family’s history actually intersected with Star Trek even earlier, right?
LANGENKAMP: My father-in-law, Lance Anderson, who started my husband in the business, actually worked on Star Trek IV. One of the first jobs my husband ever had was to make the whale for that movie. Those were some of the first pictures I ever saw of my husband working with his dad. They were making this gigantic mold. They even took a wall out of the studio so they could accommodate the length of that piece. I remember thinking to myself, as a person who was brand new to the industry, “Wow, I had no idea how any of that was made.” But my husband and his dad worked together for many years, working on The Serpent and The Rainbow, Shocker and Pet Sematary. Finally, his dad started to retire and there was a void in the shop. I really wanted to participate and there was definitely a need in there for a person to do the books and sweep the floor at night. So I kind of wormed my way in, and the first job in which I really became an active participant was Dawn of the Dead. We went to Canada and I was the coordinator of the shop in Toronto, where we made that film. It went really well and the film turned out great, and I really fell in love with the whole process. Since then, we’ve done a lot of movies and Into Darkness is our latest work.
Aside from Moto, what else in Star Trek Into Darkness is the AFX team particularly proud of?
LANGENKAMP: I would say there are several different makeups that David is proud of, and for different reasons. The Nibiran makeup at the top of the movie was very challenging. There were a lot of those characters and they wanted them to all look unique, but they didn’t have a ton of money to spend on the CGI set piece. It’s so expensive to create something like that. So that was in the works for seven or eight months, designing what that would be. It was a series of layers of clay put on each man, and it’d take four or five hours to put a layer on and dry it, then layer and dry, layer and dry, so you get that real crackly, flaking-off look. It’s a real fun look to think about, but doing it was tough. We’d start at 2 a.m. on every one of those shooting days and we had a crew of about 20 people, maybe even 30 people all told, working to get those men ready. Then the costume department also really participated by developing a few zip-suits that the guys in the very-far background could just zip themselves into so that we wouldn’t have to prepare their whole bodies.
The bar scene has a wonderful makeup. There’s a female and a male, and they have kind of an artichoke-looking head with acrylic little pieces that shimmer. In the scene, you couldn’t really see how beautiful those makeups were, but those were my favorites by far. Mark Garbarino applied those makeups and developed them in our shop. Then we had a lot of pull-over masks that were really beautiful, but in this kind of movie there’s so much story to tell, so much action and tons of CGI, that the extras in the background kind of get lost in the shuffle. The green girl was great to do. It’s just really fun to see all these things come alive. And, I think, technically, the Klingons are the most beautiful makeups in the movie. It looked so great on the actors.
Last question before we let you go. You coordinate everything for AFX Studio, doing the books and lining up gigs, etc. So, what does AFX have coming up, and are you still in the acting game?
LANGENKAMP: Yes. Gosh, I’d love to get some more acting parts. But I don’t know, doing makeup parts, where you’re wearing makeup that totally covers your head, hair and neck, it’s very comforting for an actress of my age. The older you get, you just find your vanity creeping into the way you imagine yourself. So, when I got a chance to wear this kind of makeup it was actually really liberating. You don’t worry about anything except your character and being on time. But we’ve been doing a lot of different projects at AFX: features, commercials and TV shows. We’re creating makeup effects for a new Universal show called Crossbones, which stars John Malkovich. We also created the main monster character for Indigenous, which is a Chupacabra movie coming out next year.
And in terms of acting, I just did a movie that was all women who’d been in horror movies. It’s called The Butterfly Room. I did another film, Home, which is a horror thriller set in Los Angeles. They’ll both be out next year. And I’m always promoting my documentary I Am Nancy, which is about my experience playing Nancy Thompson and her impact on the fans of Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s really a love letter to the fans. Next year is the 30th anniversary of A Nightmare on Elm Street, so I’ll be doing conventions and celebrating that.
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