If you’ve seen Brandon Cronenberg‘s excellent, disturbing sci-fi thriller Possessor, you know it’s extremely violent. Not only that, but the violence on screen is alarmingly realistic, to the point where I came away from several scenes wondering just how the hell they pulled some of it off. Now, Dan Martin, who was the film’s special makeup and figurative effects designer, has uploaded a neat (and somewhat graphic) thread revealing how they put together a Sean Bean puppet that could be mutilated on screen.

In Possessor, an assassin played by Andrea Riseborough is able to upload her consciousness into other people’s heads and control their bodies. During the course of the film, she plants her mind inside a character played by Christoper Abbott in order to target his future father-in-law, played by Sean Bean. It builds towards a scene where the possessed Abbott brutally goes to town on Bean’s face with a fire poker. At one point, he even jabs the poker into Bean’s mouth and twists it around. While most movies would cut away from this, Brandon Cronenberg lets the camera linger, and we see Bean’s bloody teeth popping out of his gums. It’s gnarly, to say the least (although, believe it or not, this is one of the few films where Sean Bean doesn’t die; he survives this attack).

If you saw the scene you’d note how realistic it looked. I knew, of course, that special effects make-up was used. But I didn’t know exactly how it was all put together. Now I have a better idea thanks to this thread from Dan Martin, who handled make-up effects on the film. I’ll include some of the posts, but click on the tweet below to get the full thread.

Anatomy of a puppet Sean Bean.

A thread.

For John Parse’s poker bearing in Possessor we wanted to go so extreme that we had to build a puppet that would stand in for Sean. Here is an abridged description of that process.

WARNING, it gets gory.

But first: The finished product: pic.twitter.com/a6UN66ARq7

— Dan. Just Dan. (@13fingerfx) April 22, 2021

The removable teeth were made by casting firm, rubber gums and fitting acrylic teeth into them on brazing wire. This served the double purpose of mounting them firmly and making them retrievable from inside the mouth with a magnet on a stick.
The teeth were fitted into the core. pic.twitter.com/DrpmAZBzX8

— Dan. Just Dan. (@13fingerfx) April 22, 2021

The scene was shot on location but we had a separate shoot planned with a smaller crew, in studio, to really get in there for the puppet closeups. A replica section of floor was built by set-dec. pic.twitter.com/VGfAtnSfzw

— Dan. Just Dan. (@13fingerfx) April 22, 2021

The thread gets a little technical, but it also includes plenty of behind-the-scenes video and images to help you understand what’s going on. “The mechanical core had two blood lines fitted into it, one behind the eye and one behind the mouth which had a 3D printed filter in place so we didn’t lose teeth down the throat,” Martin writes matter-of-factly. “The mouth also had an airline built in so the puppet could ‘exhale’ through a mouth full of blood…”

It all builds to this fun pair of tweets (maybe don’t watch these videos if you’re squeamish).

And in the eye. pic.twitter.com/2uNw2gtoLZ

— Dan. Just Dan. (@13fingerfx) April 22, 2021

Anyway, if you want to see this sort of gore-tastic stuff in action, I urge you to check out Possessor, which is currently streaming on Hulu.

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