Michael Dorn as Worf of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Paatton/Paramount+ © 2022 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.
in , ,

Interview: ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Prosthetics and Makeup Artists James MacKinnon & Silvina Knight on Bringing Aliens to Life

When Star Trek: The Next Generation went off the air in 1994, it was supposed to follow in The Original Series’s footsteps by making the leap onto the big screen. While it did just that with four major motion pictures, the hope was for the series cinematic journey to last much longer. Due to its abbreviated big screen life the series never had a true ending in the eyes of many fans. To fill that void, Paramount+ ran three seasons of Star Trek: Picard which brought back many beloved chracters. 

The Emmy Nominated series follows the post-retired exploits of the titular character, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). Over the three seasons, fans witnessed the return of several familiar characters from not only TNG, but other Star Trek properties as well. The final season brought back the original TNG cast, much to the excitement of fans. With the original cast returning, getting their looks right 20-odd years later was a top priority. Awards Radar spoke with James MacKinnon and Silvina Knight, who were a part of the Prosthetics and Makeup team that helped bring the final season to life. You can listen to the entire interview below.

Many of the alien species found in the Star Trek Universe require a lot of makeup and prosthetic work. Two main characters especially needed the help of makeup artists to achieve the appearance fans expect; Data (Brent Spiner) and Worf (Michael Dorn). “We do actually bring some legacy makeup artists back. Kevin Haney was around when I was around on Deep Space Nine and Voyager. And I believe he actually was on a little bit of TNG. So we bring some of those artists as well with that legacy, those techniques from that plus the makeups.” James informed us on starting with a solid base before applying new techniques. “Back then we were a little bit limited with foam latex being our only skin that we had to work with. We’re not so much limited anymore. With the techniques and the products that we have.”

That doesn’t even count for the factor of actors who have aged, whose characters shouldn’t have aged. “If they have the same skin, it would be easy, which they don’t, Brent is not a spring chicken anymore, but he looks fantastic. And we have little tips and tricks. And that’s our job, besides makeup brushes, we have magic wands as well that we can pull and tuck and soften with makeup. If it’s too much visual effects steps in like, for season one, they stepped in and got rid of a little bit of Brent’s age. But not enough where it changes who he is as a person and then as a character. There was a moment where a couple of those tests came back and I’m like that’s too much guys. He looks like a doll. Relax it a little bit and they came back in it like that’s beautiful.” Noted James about the marriage between makeup and visual effects.

Brent Spiner as Data and LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge in “The Last Generation” Episode 310, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The marriage of practical makeup effects and visual effects is not the only place where seeing a seam might take a viewer out of the show’s emersion. Getting the makeup fashion to look authentic for the futuristic show is also paramount. Silvina explained “At the beginning of season three, you know, that was a little darker. So you’re gonna have your pops of color, I want to have the pops of color. We basically like to create just an idea of the art for the other artists to go play. Like, here’s what color schemes are and you can do whatever you want. But keep in mind what the scene is. And so if it’s a high fashion nightclub, then I start taking a combination of what I consider on avant guard and stuff, and you mix them together and you create a whole new look.”

It’s very easy to see why James, Silvina, and the company have received an Emmy nomination. The alien races in Star Trek: Picard stays true to the original TNG forms while looking sharp in High Definition. From the Ferengi to the Klingons to the Makeup Fashion of the Future, this show is boldly going where SciFi hasn’t gone before. The final season of Star Trek: Picard can be seen on Paramount+. Episode reviews can also be found over at The ‘Verse! Podcast

Pictured: Amanda Plummer as Vadic of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Written by Norm Felker

Updated Emmy Predictions, Interviews, & More TV Topics

Interview: ‘Schmigadoon!’ Production Designer Discusses the Show’s Moody Second Season