Charlottesville remembers special effects icon Winston
As the mastermind behind the monstrous effects seen in blockbusters such as Aliens, Terminator and this summer's hit, Iron Man, four-time Academy Award winner Stan Winston (pictured at left, possibly imitating his famous egg-laying alien creation from Aliens) was widely regarded as the go-to guy in Hollywood for makeup and special effects. His death Sunday, June 15, in his Malibu home, of multiple myeloma, has left the film world mourning the loss of his talent and passion for cinema. He was 62.
"He was a big supporter of the film festival and loved speaking with the students," Festival Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz says.
A UVA graduate with a major in painting and sculpting, Winston continued to support Charlottesville's film scene as an avid participant in the Virginia Film Festival. He received the Virginia Film Award in 1999, when the Festival's theme was TechnoVisions, and has been a member of the Festival's advisory board ever since. Winston is firmly rooted in Charlottesville's culture, as evidenced through his work as makeup effects director on the film Edward Scissorhands– during Edward's (Johnny Depp) attempt to break into a house for his love, Kim (Winona Ryder), Depp is wearing a blue hat with the an orange Virginia V (pictured at right), a possible wink from Winston to his alma mater
This year's recently announced festival theme, Aliens!, provides an appropriate opportunity for a tribute to Winston, as his 1999 festival appearance was to screen Aliens with star Sigourney Weaver (click photo at upper left to see Winston with Herskowitz and Weaver).
"We will definitely be doing some kind of tribute to him," Herskowitz says. "What I admired most about Stan was that he was always committed to performance and actors over technology. He wanted to have actors inside the monsters so that other actors were not just interacting with a blue screen, but with a live actor– he felt that added to the performance."
Winston won Oscars for his work on Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Aliens. The Academy also nominated Winston for his creations from A.I., The Lost World, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Predator, and Heartbeeps. His last movie, Iron Man, continues to be this summer's reigning hit, opening up to a gushing reception from critics and audiences alike and ranking as the second-largest opening weekend of 2008. As of Sunday, the day of Winston's death, it has grossed over $288 million at the U.S. box office alone.