Star Trek: Discovery stars and producers walked the red carpet last week in New York to celebrate the premiere of season two. We grabbed a few minutes with James MacKinnon, who oversees prosthetics and special effects makeup on Star Trek: Discovery and has a long history with Star Trek, starting way back on TNG.
What can we expect to see in season two of Star Trek: Discovery that we haven’t seen yet?
MacKinnon: Ooh! Season two. I can’t say much, but we get to have a little more growth on the characters, we get a little backstory on some characters, we get to bring some characters back from previous shows, which I will not say which ones. We get to delve into a little bit of the past and the present, and establishing more with the characters, makeup-wise, prosthetic-wise.
Can you tell us about any aliens we’re going to see?
MacKinnon: Nope. Nope. But it’s a cool amount. It’s a great thing because I’ve done five of the other television shows back from Deep Space Nine, Voyager, [the film] First Contact, so it’s kind of cool as a makeup artist to be able to … not reinvent, a little bit, so if we bring one of those makeups back again, I get to do it for a second time, and maybe it’s new products so say back in 1990, there was all foam latex, today it’s silicone. So it’s a new medium, it’s a new makeup, it’s washes instead of PAX paints, which is the product we used back then. So I get to be challenged as a makeup artist now to kind of create a new version of what I created back then with Michael Westmore on one of the shows.
What’s been your favorite alien that you’ve done for Discovery so far, that was creatively the most fun to do?
MacKinnon: I would have to say – I mean, Doug is amazing, just because he’s a new creature to the solar system, to the show as well. And that’s a two-hour makeup, two and a half hour makeup, what used to be four so we whittled it down throughout the season, or two seasons now. Just as a makeup artist, to take Doug Jones out of the equation—as I[‘m doing his makeup, Doug slowly disappears, and by the end, we now talk to him as Saru. So it’s great. I don’t see Doug anymore, and as a makeup artist, that’s my goal, is not to see the actor underneath the makeup. To see the character. And as he’s doing it, you see him come to life as well. So we kind of bring these two worlds, acting and prosthetics, together to create a new person or creature.
With Klingons, this season we have hair. Yes. We’ve seen a few little clips. And just evolving those makeups and evolving those characters in the show has been great too. So we get to see a little bit more, and we might get to see a little bit more with Mary as well.
(Asked by another interviewer) Is there anything you can tell us about Airiam 2.0, as Hannah Cheesman takes over the role from Sara Mitich?
MacKinnon: I don’t know anything [about why the casting change occurred], but as for the prosthetics, it is a redesign and resculpt on our behalf. As a makeup artist, you are always learning ways of doing new stuff, new techniques, and sometimes after you do a makeup, you think back and say, ‘Oh, I wish I did it some other way.’ So now, we do get to do it another way. Sometime’s there’s a layering effect, maybe where we apply the lip portion before the chin for example. Like with Mary [Chieffo], it depends on how much action she has — so if I put her lip on before I put her chin on, the layering aspect helps with action, smiling, and opening her mouth. So part of my job is to watch for these things — but with Airiam, this is just the next step in the evolution of a cool makeup.
More from the season 2 premiere
Our interviews with Jeff Russo and James MacKinnon posted today are the final two of our coverage from the coverage of the season 2 red carpet premiere in NYC. Check out all of our interviews here.
Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else. The second season debuted on All Access and Space on Thursday, January 17th, 2019, and on Netflix January 18, 2019.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.