He turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into ”The Terminator,” made Michael Jackson into a ”Ghost,” created the dinosaurs for ”Jurassic Park III,” and now he’s up for an Oscar for the jaw-dropping visuals in Steven Spielberg’s ”A.I.” But Stan Winston — who started out with a two-year apprenticeship in Disney’s makeup studios 33 years ago and did his first major makeup work on 1972’s ”Gargoyles” — isn’t slowing down. After a total of 10 Oscar nominations and 4 wins, he’s now working on the high-tech visuals for ”Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines,” and he’s planning his own line of original action figures and comic books. Speaking recently with EW.com, Winston explained his love of monsters and why he’s still excited about getting an Oscar nomination.
You moved to Hollywood to try acting. Was it a difficult transition to special effects?
I came here to create characters — I just ended up creating them behind the camera rather than in front of it. The characters I’ve helped create are, in fact, actors in movies. The dinosaurs are principal characters in the ”Jurassic Park” series; Teddy in ”A.I.” is an actor. So I’m still acting.
How do you feel about a character-driven film like ”A Beautiful Mind” going up against a special-effects driven film like ”The Lord of the Rings” for Best Picture?
I don’t think that Best Pictures are about special effects. Best Pictures are about wonderful stories told by wonderful directors, with performances by wonderful actors. When you’re comparing apples and oranges, it’s very tough because it’s about storytelling. What the Academy will do is hard to say. But without question one of the most spectacular movies we’ve seen historically is ”Lord of the Rings.”
Speaking of spectacular, all anyone could talk about after ”A.I.” came out was the teddy bear.
Teddy was the most intricate robot we’ve ever created. Our dinosaurs have been known for having enormous points of motion; in ”Jurassic Park 3,” the Spinosaur, which is the biggest dinosaur we’d ever built (25,000 pounds), had 48 points of motion. But Teddy had 50 points of motion, and he worked virtually every day of the shoot. You’re talking about creating a principal character that in fact doesn’t exist and was completely a visual effect.