'Face Off' season 4 winner interview: Anthony Kosar
SPOILER AHEAD! Keep reading only if you want to know who was crowned the winner on the finale of Face Off last night.
Season 4 went out with a bang — or, more literally, a splash — when the final three contestants were challenged to create makeups for performers in the Las Vegas show Le Rêve: The Dream. It was a difficult feat, especially considering that the prosthetics had to stay in place throughout a program that includes acrobatic choreography and 40-foot dives into a pool of water.
Each one of the creations held up to the rigorous test, and the judges gave high praise to finalists Wayne Anderson, Kris Kobzina, and Anthony Kosar. But only one makeup artist could be named the winner…
and it was Kosar.
Kosar’s dream thief monster and princess characters proved to be the judges’ favorite. Glenn Hetrick — who has always been a vocal stickler for anatomic plausibility — praised him for the unusual but believable head shapes of his characters, and he was given extra kudos for listening to the panel’s feedback and incorporating it into his final designs.
Today, EW chatted with Kosar — who was fresh off of a night of celebrating with family and friends at his Westmont, Ill. studio — about his big win. Read on to see what he had to say about his final designs, the Face Off prizes, working with Autumn and Eric, and what he plans to do next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was going through your head as you stood on that stage waiting for Glenn to announce the winner?
ANTHONY KOSAR: It was the longest minute of my life. It was kind of hard to hear up on that stage, just with the water running around you and because the judges were so far away. So all I was trying to do was pace my heart so I could just even hear them and just hoping they’d say my name. When they did it was just like, ‘Oh my God!’ I couldn’t believe it.
The finale was taped last September. Was it hard to keep your win a secret until it aired last night?
It was one of those things that I thought was going to be harder than it was, but it kind of turned into a game. When people would ask, ‘Did you win? Did you lose?’ I’d give my same poker face each time and be like, ‘I dunno!’ I drove my friends and family nuts.
Did your parents know?
No, they were not at the taping of the finale. They did get to Skype with me before [it started], but they had no idea of the outcome.
Did you apply any of the feedback you got from the judges throughout the season to the final challenge?
Throughout the season, I had quite a few highs and a few low moments, and sometimes I got some advice that I tried to apply, and it wouldn’t necessarily work. I’d overdo the paint, or the heads got too big. I definitely tried using a lot of the advice and things I knew they liked from previous seasons. One thing I knew they had liked from the beginning was [that] a lot of my concepts were more subtle makeups. Especially the female character – I just wanted to make her very subtle and beautiful and completely change her appearance, but also not make her grotesque in the least. So that’s what I was really trying to pull from, a lot of the stuff I did more in the beginning of the season, which I feel was a little bit more me before I tried going bigger to really compete. It just was pulling back.
For a while, you guys got really caught up in trying to make full-body suits for each challenge.
The first challenge [Eric] Fox had his whole character dressed head-to-toe, and then the second challenge Wayne and I stepped up, and we started doing full sculpting. It was one of those things when one guy did it, we all did it too. But I think that’s where I got a little confused myself, because I started stepping away from more the artist that I am.
You seemed really comfortable overseeing Autumn and Eric’s work. Since Face Off, have you had the opportunity to lead a team like that, or are you still working your way up the ladder?
I’m still working my way up the ladder, [but] I’ve found some projects [since the show], and I usually like to take a leadership role [when I can]. I recently did a horror photography shoot with Joshua Hoffine, we did 12 zombies for this horror shoot. It’s going to be for an art exhibition in New York opening Memorial Day weekend. I’m not sure what the show’s called, but it’s going to be at Last Rites gallery. And we had Meagan [Hester] fly out from New York to help with that project. It was great working with her again. She and I both work really well together. And on the finale, I was excited to get Eric Zapata because he’s really a great sculptor, and he shares a similar aesthetic to my own. With Autumn, I think her heart was in the right place, and she helped me achieve what I hoped to achieve.
When you found out that Autumn and Eric would be assisting you on the final challenge, were you worried?
Of course I was worried about that. You can’t not be after watching the werewolf episode. But the first thing that they told me when the camera was off was, ‘Anthony, we’re here for you. We’re not here for us, so we’re here to help you win and put everything else aside.’ That really meant a lot and showed that I could trust them both and rely on them to help me achieve.
After Eric Fox explained how secluded they keep the contestants, I understand why that Skype conversation with your parents was a bit emotional. Tell me more about getting to talk with them.
It was amazing to get a chance to talk to them, especially towards the last few challenges. It was very hard emotionally just to continue, because that’s where I was really starting to have my rough patch and started to get confused artistically. Usually at home when I’m at my studio, I’ve always got them there to talk things over if I’m not having a good day. They’re there to pick me up again. So it was really hard not having access to them. I knew I had their support, but not being in contact with them was very difficult. So when I saw them on Skype, it was very emotional.
When you won, McKenzie gave you the keys to a new Fiat. Do you know when you’ll actually get the car?
I haven’t gotten it yet. I think they said a couple months after the finale airs. I actually wasn’t expecting that because they never said throughout the season that there was going to be a car, so it was a total surprise when she pulled that out.
How do you plan to use the $100,000 prize money?
Part of it I want to use to make things easier at home and everything else, but the other part I want to use toward business. I have quite a few ideas I’ve been working on the past few years, story lines. I’m an illustrator and do fine art as well. I have some stories that I want to get out in comic book form, graphic novel form, and children’s books. Especially with self-publishing, it’s really expensive to do.
You also earned some cool prizes before the finale, like having your winning Infernal Core design appear in an issue of Justice League Dark. What was it like to see your work in a comic book?
It was really awesome to see. I’m not gonna lie – I was kind of hoping that the chest piece would make it in there. It didn’t make it onstage, but I was hoping the chest piece would make it in the comic book. But I think he still looks cool. He has a strong silhouette, and he pops off the background. It’s kind of funny that in a roundabout way, going through my special effects, I was able to get into DC comic book.
What was it like shadowing the makeup artists on the set of Defiance?
It was really cool to hang out with [prosthetic makeup artists] Allan Cooke and Shane Zander in the effects makeup trailer. And I got to spend the day at [prosthetics designer] Paul Jones’ shop, where they were running some appliances. I’m more of a foam latex guy, but I’ve done some silicon pieces, so it was cool to watch and learn some techniques they use on a daily basis with silicon prosthetics.
One thing that was really interesting was I also got to hang out in the beauty makeup trailer, where they did the hair and the beauty makeup, to see how it took three people to get the character of Arissa done. She’d come in for her facial prosthetic, and then she’s go get her wig from another guy and he’d style it, and then another guy would do the beauty makeup around her eyes and her lips. I thought that was really cool because a lot of times in the effects world, a lot of people don’t know the beauty end of things. It was just fun to see that, even on an alien, they’re incorporating the beauty makeup.
What has it been like watching yourself on Face Off as the episodes air?
We’ve been having screenings at my studio every Tuesday night, and we usually have anywhere between 40 to 80 people come and watch with us, all family and close friends. On this last episode, it was just packed. There had to have been well over 100, maybe 120 – my mom said 160, but I don’t know about that. I was mostly excited to watch with my parents, and my sister flew in to watch with us. It was cool to experience it with them because they weren’t able to experience it with me while I was there. And then [I was] trying to keep up with Twitter at the same time, just having fun with the fans.
What was the reaction in the room when you were announced the winner?
Oh, it was really quiet, and then as soon as [Glenn] said my name, the whole room, like, exploded. It was insane. Stand-up ovation and cheering. It was so loud. Hugs all around. It was really exciting and just great to share it with the people I love the most.
What have you been working on since wrapping Face Off?
I’m actually going to be working on my own piece for the zombie gallery show, I’m going to be doing a sculpture for it. So I’m trying to get that done along with a few fine art pieces for a few shows that are coming up. During the time that Face Off has been on, I haven’t been taking on too many projects just because I wanted to experience it and watch it with my family without having too many responsibilities. But now I’ll be looking at taking projects on.
And I’m hoping to go to a couple conventions. There’s going to be C2E2, which is in Chicago. That’s at the end of April. And I’m working on trying to go to San Diego Comic-Con as well as the New York Comic-Con.
Will you be speaking at any of those conventions?
I’m not sure yet. I’m going to try to do some kind of a panel discussion. Now that I’ve won the show, I’m definitely going to be reaching out to those conventions so see what could be done.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome