'Sons of Anarchy' makeup artist explains how you take out an eye
Spoiler alert: The Nov. 11 episode of Sons of Anarchy found Jax taking the expression “an eye for an eye” literally: After ambushing Moses (Mathew St. Patrick) and his men, he ripped out Moses’ eyeball, which dangled out of its socket. (Chibs then cut off Moses’ fingers before Jax put a bullet in his head, mirroring the fate Bobby had suffered.)
The eye was stomach-turning and awesome, which is why we asked Sons‘ head of makeup Tracey Anderson how she did it.
First, she got a stock hanging eyeball and eye socket from W.M. Creations, Oscar and Emmy winner Matthew W. Mungle’s company. “Actually, Bobby and Moses have the same eye, in a different color,” she says with a laugh. The day before the scene was shot, she explained the half-hour process to St. Patrick. “I said, ‘Here’s what we’re gonna do,’ just to get him ready, because it’s kind of a big deal having your eye completely obscured and having people work around your eye. It’s such a sensitive area, you really want to trust that person to put it on and take it back off again without hurting you,” she says. She Steri-Stripped down his eye, then glued the Vacuform socket to the Steri-Strips. “No pun intended, it has a hook and eye that connects to the eyeball,” she explains. “We put on the bloodied up prosthetic piece and painted it to match the skin and irritation, and then just before the shot—so that he wouldn’t have to wait with that eye swinging around his face—we just hooked that eye on. That was it, and poured some more blood on it.”
She had never seen the crew so excited to take pictures. “We’ve done some crazy stuff: We’ve carved swastikas into people, we’ve burned them alive. People really enjoyed the guy who had the nails in the face—there was quite a bit of novelty to the Nail Face Guy, but definitely nothing compared to the swinging eye. That was hours of excitement,” she says. “Everyone wanted their picture with him and the eye. It was so disgusting. Just watching it on the monitor—he’d flop over and it’d flop over. And the way Mathew played it: You felt like he was an animal that had had his eye pulled out. The way he was flailing and resisting, it was awesome.”
While this may have been the series’ makeup highlight for the crew, Anderson says her proudest moment is still Nero’s tattoos, which she created for Jimmy Smits. “There’s a scene where Nero and Arcadio hug in Gemma’s kitchen. They’re both wearing white tanks. [Dave Navarro’s] tattoos are all real. And for a second, I was like, ‘Oh god, is this gonna be obvious?’ They hugged, and it was like, ‘Holy s–t, it looks like they’d both gone to the same guys and got their tattoos done.’ The designs were just similar enough, the placement. Jimmy’s looked like no joke. You didn’t even think about. That was my biggest moment of, ‘Oh, thank god.'”
But back to the Nov. 11 episode. Fans may also be wondering how Anderson worked with the twin actors who play 5-year-old Abel for the scene in which he sports self-inflicted fork wounds on his arm. “They’ve never been in makeup, and they were a little skittish because it looks really gross,” she says. “Jax has a scar on his arm, so I just said, ‘This is like Jax’s scar on his arm, and we do this every time. It’s kinda gonna look like a Halloween costume.'”
Kurt Sutter’s original series, starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, and Katey Sagal.