While Lane concentrated her daily efforts on actor Dinklage, fellow makeup artist Sarah Rubano won the assignment to metamorphose Warwick Davis into a character the actor himself calls “sour inside.”
“Howard’s makeup was loads of help for me in understanding the character,” says Davis. “Then you find the character’s voice. Then Isis’ costume, which was such an immaculate piece of workmanship… while the detail may not come across for audiences, subliminally, it’s all there. As an actor, it makes you feel so at home in the character. I lived, worked and fought in those clothes. You are then placed in the surroundings, the sets, and magically, you are in Narnia.”
“Warwick is an actor who has been able to imbue all of his characters with something different,” notes producer Johnson. “That's what I prize most in an actor—surprises. I think his Nikabrik character is very surprising because he is irascible, yet speaks real logic. Nikabrik has really paid for the fact that Narnia has been under the thumb of the Telmarines. So he has some real surprises as a character up his sleeve.”
Davis was intrigued by a clever illustration of the character done by one of Berger’s associates at KNB, John Wheaton. “It was brilliant, because it was me, but as an old man. It was my photograph over which he painted the character concept. It captured Nikabrik perfectly.”
When Davis looked in the mirror after the marathon session, “What I saw was the character in three dimensions that Howard’s artist had portrayed in two dimensions,” the actor notes. “It was astounding.”
Another daily visitor to Berger’s trailer camp was English musical theatre star Cornell S. John, who plays Glenstorm, the powerful Afro-Narnian centaur who aids the Prince Caspian and the Pevensies in their fight against Miraz.
“For Glenstorm, Andrew wanted a tall and imposing actor of African descent,” casting director Stevens remembers. “Glenstorm is a wise, spiritual character who is also a great warrior, so he needed to move with grace and dignity. We did a global search that went as far afield as Africa and found Cornell in London. We had known and admired him in many leading roles in musical theatre and opera, from ‘The Lion King’ to ‘Porgy and Bess.’”
John endured a lengthy makeup process that transformed the actor into one of mythology’s quintessential creatures, the centaur—half-man and half-horse. Latex face appliances combined with green screen tights over which the VFX magicians superimposed the body and legs of a horse turned the soft-spoken actor into one of the film’s most imposing creations.
“I’m 160% Mike Fields, the guy who did my makeup,” John states. “In the beginning, I had no idea what I should look like. I was hoping for something that expressed honor, pride and tradition. Because centaurs can live for hundreds of years, there’s no age limit on this. I put myself at 170 Earth years. This face of Glenstorm is the face of time.”
And, as they did on the first film, KNB created life-sized animatronic puppets and suits for the CGI character of Aslan for use on the set during filming.
“Andrew wanted him to be 15 percent larger,” says Berger. “We were able to utilize the digital scanning information from the first film and have Cyber FX mill out a new sculpture 15 percent larger than the first. We ended up with a very large lion in the shop.”
The face of Reepicheep, the swashbuckling mouse, did not come from the brush of one of Berger’s talented artists. Instead, the rodent was born from the strokes of a keyboard mouse, through computer software under the control by VFX co-supervisor Wendy Rogers.
“I grew up on the Narnia books and Reepicheep was definitely one of my favorite characters,” director Adamson says of the gallant, honorable and noble mouse who wields “a tiny little rapier,” in author Lewis’ description of the character. “He was ingrained in my imagination. The trick here was finding the right voice. He was difficult to find, but we finally cast Eddie Izzard for the part.”
The filmmakers auditioned over 100 voices to find the right actor to bring the character to life, says producer Mark Johnson. “Eddie Izzard's voice came closest to the seriousness of the character and yet didn't in any way repel us or not let us have immediate affection for Reepicheep.”
Once the filmmakers chose Izzard, Rogers focused on physicalizing the character. “Reepicheep is a big mouse, some 22 inches tall,” Rogers explains. “That will take some suspension of disbelief. At that size, we still have to make him feel like he’s a mouse. We have to find the correct balance between anthropomorphizing Reepicheep and maintaining the fact that he is a real animal—a mouse.
“The voice actor plays such a big part in defining the character,” Rogers continues. “It’s not the fact that the animated character resembles the actor playing him. The actor may do some mannerisms or a physical flourish, like wave a sword. We have lipstick cams at these recording sessions to capture that. That helps our exploration of who the character is.”
Of all the Narnian characters London-based visual effects house The Moving Picture Company (MPC) had to create for PRINCE CASPIAN, Reepicheep was the one requiring the most art direction and overall attention to detail, says MPC’s Greg Butler. “One of the first challenges was that a very big mouse would be hard to keep looking ’mousey.’ We wanted to make sure Reepicheep didn’t end up looking like a rat. We also had to work out an anatomy that was based on a mouse, but still allowed him to sword-fight, wear armor, and walk on two as well as four legs.”
“This story is Reepicheep’s introduction,” says Adamson. “Dawn Treader will be his story. What we’ve done is establish him for the next Narnia adventure. I didn’t really get to exploit him like so many other characters. But he is so worthwhile and interesting.”