Special-effects maestro Stan Winston dies at 62
By Derrik J. Lang | Source: AssociatedPress.com
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Stan Winston, the Oscar-winning special-effects maestro responsible for bringing the dinosaurs of "Jurassic Park" and other iconic movie creatures to life, has died. He was 62.
Winston died at his home in Malibu surrounded by family on Sunday evening after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma, according to a representative from Stan Winston Studio.
Working with such directors as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Tim Burton in a career spanning four decades, Winston created some of the most memorable visual effects in cinematic history.
He helped bring the dinosaurs from "Jurassic Park," the extraterrestrials from "Aliens, the robots from "Terminator" and even "Edward Scissorhands" to the big screen, and was a pioneer in merging real-world effects with computer imaging.
"The entertainment industry has lost a genius, and I lost one of my best friends with the death Sunday night of Stan Winston," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
Arnold continues, "Stan's work and four Oscars speak for themselves and will live on forever. What will live forever in my heart is the way that Stan loved everyone and treated each of his friends like they were family."
Winston won visual effects Oscars for 1986's "Aliens," 1992's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and 1993's "Jurassic Park." He also won a makeup Oscar for 1992's "Batman Returns."
Winston was nominated for his work on "Heartbeeps," "Predator," "Edward Scissorhands," "Batman Returns," "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" and "A.I." He last worked with director Jon Favreau on "Iron Man."
At the time of his death, Winston was in the process of transforming his physical makeup and effects studio into the new Winston Effects Group with a team of senior effects supervisors.
Winton's most recent projects included "Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins," "G.I. Joe," "Shutter Island" and Cameron's "Avatar."
Stan Winston Biography
A leading figure in modern movie effects, Stan Winston describes himself as a character designer rather than a makeup effects technician. His Stan Winston Studio has crafted some of modern cinema's most fantastic figures.
He collaborated with director James Cameron on the fearsome monster effects of "Aliens" (1986) and on both "The Terminator" (1984) and its lavish 1991 sequel "Terminator 2: Judgment Day".
In a similar vein, he designed the alien hunter in "Predator" (1987) and "Predator 2" (1990). Winston and filmmaker Tim Burton were responsible for Johnny Depp's soulful-eyed and sharp-fingered oddball looks in "Edward Scissorhands" (1990) and Danny DeVito's grotesque Penguin makeup in "Batman Returns" (1992).
Winston employs a crack team of painters, sculptors, and other artists and craftsmen which he has favorably compared to the masters of the Renaissance. A less controversial comparison could be drawn to the Disney Studio of the classic era.
He also owes a debt to Ray Harryhausen, that low-tech effects wizard of the 1950s and 60s, who also made movie creatures that had to convince visually as well as emotionally. More than a talented techie, Winston has been a major player on many of his projects.
Realizing that much of the future of special effects will involve computers, he joined forces with Cameron and Scott Ross to establish Digital Domain, already the second largest computer effects company after Industrial Light and Magic.
Winston has also directed two features of his own, "Pumpkinhead" (1988) and "The Adventures of a Gnome Named Gnorm" (1993). The former, for which he also received story credit, was an above-average tale of supernatural revenge gone horribly awry, while the latter was a comedic fantasy adventure that went straight to video.
Winston initially wanted to be an actor and he studied drama and fine arts at the University of Virginia. He then moved to California and won acceptance to the Disney Studio's highly competitive apprenticeship program in theatrical makeup and special effects.
Words on Stan Winston
From the Cinema Industry
JAMES CAMERON: Stan was a great man. I'm proud to have been his friend, and his collaborator on what for both of us, was some of our best work. We've stayed friends for over a quarter of a century, and would have been for much longer if he had not been cut down.
We've lost a great artist, a man who made a contribution to the cinema of the fantastic that will resound for a long long time. I don't need to list the indelible characters he and his team of artists brought to the screen. Readers of your site know them.
JON FAVREAU: Stan was a giant. He was experienced and helped guide me while never losing his childlike enthusiasm. He was the king of integrating practical effects with CGI, never losing his relevance in an ever changing industry.
Stan was the king of integrating practical effects with CGI, never losing his relevance in an ever changing industry. I knew that he was struggling, but I had no idea that he would be gone so soon. Hollywood has lost a shining star."
FRANK DARABONT: Stan was clearly a genius in his field. He was one of those people it was impossible not to like. Stan was a fantastic dinner companion, a real raconteur, and one of the most affable guys you'd ever meet.
He was brimming with enthusiasm that was genuine. As revered an industry figure as he was, he was still basically the kid who loved movies and broke into the business for the magic of it, and he never let go of that attitude.
One of the blessings of being in movies is when you meet icons whose work you deeply admire and they turn out to be fantastic people. They’re the ones you’re honored to encounter along the way, the people who are kind and gracious and inspiring in addition to being superbly talented.
They exhibit genuine humanity and touch your heart in various ways, and you foolishly figure they’ll always be around to get to know better as the years go on. But then they are taken far too soon, and you’re left with the deep and lasting regret of not having gotten to know them nearly as well as you’d wanted or expected to.
JOE DANTE: Although Stan was prematurely gray, he always exuded so much youthful enthusiasm that he never seemed much older than 20, making today's sad news all the harder to accept.
Like many of us who began as monster kids, he was eternally excited to be part of the movie business, even after becoming one of the major names in his field.
The level of detail that went into the creation of his figures and their on-set animation was prodigious, and subject to lots of trial and error. Stan and his guys were totally on board with whatever was best for a picture.
But that was Stan's ethos. Whatever worked and made everybody look good. One less artist and a major loss for all of us. Rest in peace, Stan, with the knowledge you made a difference in the world you loved best.
RICK BAKER: Such sad news. I can't tell you how sad this makes me. I just spoke with him a couple of weeks ago. I called to tell him how beautiful I thought his Iron Man was.
He confirmed the fact that he had cancer but said, "Hey, I am still above ground". We spoke about when I finished my work on in England about getting together and talking about the good old days.
Stan was bigger than life. The film industry is not going to be the same without Stan. Stan took make-up effects out of the garage and made it a respectable business.
Stan was the first to make a nice clean beautiful shop for crew to work in. He treated his crew well, with respect and love. My heart goes out to his family and his crew.
I am sorry for their loss, his passing is a loss to us all. It is hard to imagine the make-up effects industry without Stan. His presence will surely be missed. I feel like it is the end of an era.
JOHN ROSENGRANT: It was tough not only that I lost my mentor, who taught me this business and great lessons in life, but we had to perform tonight. The old show biz saying" the show must go on" came true and the team and I had to make Stan proud....to bring our characters to life, and keep it all together.
I have been blessed to have worked for Stan for the last 25 years ,my first feature with Stan being the first Terminator. It has been an unbelievable opportunity, an incredible ride.
It's a ride, we the team will continue, just as he wanted. Stan never lost his love for this business, always wanted to break that new ground ,give the audience what they had never seen before, and to the highest artistic standards.
As a person Stan was caring and generous. It breaks my heart that he is gone. The out pouring from the fans is very touching.... you all obviously loved him as much as we all did at Stan Winston Studio. We'll miss you Stan.