Alien werewolves, two-headed giants and demons from a frozen-over hell have sprouted from the paintbrushes and sculpting tools of this season’s Face Off contestants. In last night’s episode, contestants on the Syfy effects makeup show were tasked with creating a newly discovered species using luminescent paint.
Two contestants were sent home in last night’s episode in the show’s first ever double elimination. Meagan Hester’s attempt to incorporate a venus flytrap into her creature failed to wow the judges, and Eric Zapata’s cave-dwelling amphibian/reptile also was the target of tough criticism.
EW caught up with both Hester and Zapata to talk about what went wrong with their final makeups, their favorite off-camera moments on the show and what professional effects makeup gigs have been keeping them busy since their elimination.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So you’re the last girl standing this season. Did the vibe on the show change once all your fellow female contestants had been eliminated?
MEAGAN HESTER: It’s weird – when it dwindled down to only a few girls left, the vibe didn’t really change too much. But when I was by myself with only guys left, I felt the manly room. A little too masculine, but it was cool.
You lost a lot of time this week when you had to be taken to the hospital. How many hours did you lose in the lab for this challenge?
I pretty much lost the whole day. You could actually see that I was fine in the morning, and then I got food poisoning. So around halfway into the day, which is when we started at the lab, I actually lost the entire day because I wasn’t functioning and my concept and stuff were so out the window because I was so sick. I’ve never had food poisoning before, so for me, I had no idea what was wrong with me. I thought I had the flu or something.
Not getting food poisoning aside, is there anything else you would do differently if you had this challenge to do over again?
If I had to do this challenge over, if I didn’t have the food poisoning, I think my idea would have been more concrete. As far as the sculpt, I like the way it went. I wish I could have put more detail into it and also put more detail into the whole conceptual part of it. That’s what really hit me in the end, when they asked me exactly what it was. My mind in that moment was so just exerted from being sick that I was just happy that makeup was up there, so I kind of wasn’t prepared to explain what it was.
You’ve had a lot of cool guest judges this season, from Bryan Singer to John Rhys-Davies to Jon Landau last night. Which one were you most excited to meet?
I enjoyed when we were able to work with Walking Dead producer [Gail Anne Hurd]. I was so blown away that she judged us, and even the fact that I won that Foundation Challenge was unbelievable. I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead.
That Foundation Challenge was one of your strongest moments of the show. You churned out zombie after zombie.
I’m good with quick makeup. That’s something that I’ve always been great at. I work in New York, and if they need someone in 10 minutes, they’re done in 10 minutes. What I think happened with me with these [Face Off] challenges is that I questioned myself because there’s so much time allotted within three days. Instead of sticking to one thing, I would question myself.
Several of your fellow contestants had the opposite problem, being too ambitious with a design that really needed more than three days to make.
These men are crazy sculptors. I’ve never in my life seen people sculpt the way that they do. They can pull out a full creature suit in three days, and that’s unheard of. It was crazy.
Which of your makeups on Face Off were you most proud of?
I actually like the one that I was sent home on. I thought my sculpt was cool, and I really enjoyed that one. I loved the first challenge. I wasn’t questioning myself at that point because I wasn’t intimidated by anyone, so I really went into that full-on.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m on a set in Kansas with [fellow Face Off contestant] Anthony [Kosar]. We’re working on a zombie shoot that’s going to be exhibited in Sacred Gallery in New York City. It’s a pretty big set. It’s about 15 zombies, and it’s gonna be a bunch of pictures for a gallery.
What other makeup work have you done since you wrapped on Face Off?
I own a company with my partner Tyler Green, G&H Effects, which is in New York. We did a huge makeup that was on the Kelly and Michael show over Halloween. We’re also starting a cancer foundation for prosthesis [which will provide custom silicone prosthetics to cancer survivors after surgery]. So we’re in the midst of making that right now.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What did you think when McKenzie revealed that this challenge would require luminescent paint?
ERIC ZAPATA: I was actually really nervous when I heard that that was part of the challenge because painting in general isn’t an incredibly strong point of mine. I feel like I was able to pull of my paint job in the other challenges, but this one was basically a painting challenge. So it was very nerve-wracking for me, knowing, “Okay, I barely skimmed by with my paint job. Now we have to have two paint jobs.” And they had to look good under two kinds of light.
Have you tried anything with luminescent paint since then?
I hadn’t tried it before, and I haven’t tried it since. It’s not something that I think I’ll ever do again. But obviously it can be pulled off. Anthony did a beautiful job as always. I don’t really see myself using it again, but maybe one day I’ll play around with it.
What would you do differently if you had this challenge to do over again?
I would really just try to relax a little more. I feel like I was second-guessing myself a lot this week because of last week. Just to be clear, I’m not blaming Autumn or anything like that. It was purely my doing. Last week I fumbled so much with my working relationship. I feel like it left me in a weird mental state. I was second-guessing myself a lot. I wasn’t really comfortable with a lot of the decisions I was making.
What did you learn from the experience of working with Autumn last week when you two were clashing?
The most positive way I can describe that experience is that it was a learning experience where I learned my limits, and I learned how to stand up for myself. It taught me that I don’t want to work with Autumn again! But I guess personally it taught me that there are the kind of people who I do want to work with and the kind I don’t want to work with, and if I am stuck with working with these sort of people, I know how to handle it better next time. I understand in the real world you don’t choose who you work with all the time. On the show there’s such a limited time [for challenges] that you can’t really work out every kink in your working relationship in the three days you have. It’s different in that way. But in reality, I’m definitely better now because of that situation.
Which of your makeups on Face Off were you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my candy hag that I did on the candy challenge. I’m good at more realistic makeups. What we were doing on Face Off was more creature-type things, and I’ve done very little of that. So I was proud of myself for escaping from my comfort zone in a little bit. But with that particular challenge I was able to tie in my strong points with it. I didn’t get in top looks or anything, but I was just personally really happy with the way I sculpted that piece and the way that I applied it. Application is kind of overlooked on the show sometimes because there are a lot of time constraints, but application is something that I really pride myself on, both in the real industry and on the show.
Have you been watching the show as it airs?
Yeah, I’ve been watching every Tuesday night.
How has that been?
It’s really weird. I could sort of imagine how it was going to be, but it’s way more nerve-wracking than I could have ever imagined because I don’t know what they’re gonna choose to show [from what’s been shot]. I’m just so nervous to see “What did they put in? What did I say? I don’t even remember what I said. Am I going to sound like an idiot?”
Also a cool thing about it is seeing everyone else’s adventure through the week. You’re so focused on what you’re doing that you don’t really take the chance to look up and see what everyone else is up to. It’s really, really cool to see what everyone else was up to and see how they got to their final product and see how they work. I got to see how all these awesome, established artists work, and I learned a lot on the show, but it’s also great to see it on TV because you learn even more.
What was one of your favorite moments while on the show that wasn’t caught on camera?
At Comic-Con we were walking through a display for Grimm, the television show. It was really, really neat, and they had pictures of all the creatures. We were walking around that, and I was turning a corner, and Michael Faust, who’s also from Texas – he was hiding around a corner, and he just came out and screamed at me, and I was terrified. He made it a point every day to try to scare me, because I’m very easily scared.
You won the third episode of new web series Face Off: Redemption. Tell me how you were feeling going into that.
It was actually kind of mixed because when everything was said and done and I was eliminated, I was obviously down in the dumps for a little bit, but I became at peace with it very quickly because I was thinking of who was left and how talented they were and how much I respected them. I was like, “They deserve to be there.” So I was fine with it very shortly after it happened. But then they told me Redemption was happening. I was like, “Oh, do I want to do this again?” I had faith that I could get to the end, try for it, but it was just like, “Do I want to try that hard though? Do I want to make it?” I wrestled with that when they told me about it. Then in that first challenge, the clown challenge, I remember Jenna [Green] was really adamant about it – she wanted it more than anything. A part of me was like, “Oh man, she might take it. And maybe she deserves it.” But then I got the challenge, and I was like, “Well, let’s see where this goes.”
What makeup work have you done since you wrapped on Face Off?
I worked on the show Dallas on TNT. I painted a prosthetic pregnant belly. They had me come in and paint some prosthetics for them cause they had ordered them from somewhere and didn’t like what they had, and they asked me to come in and make them look more realistic since that’s kind of my forte. Actually Heather Henry from season 2 [of Face Off] got me that. She’s one of my buddies down here now, and she tries to get me work when she can. I’m working with this effects shop down here in Austin called Hawgfly, and I’m also running my company, Archimedes Media Lab. We’re doing our own short films and monster movies and stuff. We’re actually finishing up our first short film, and we’re starting our second one very soon. So I’m keeping busy.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome