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The secret Hollywood procedure that has fooled us for years

secret Hollywood procedure that has fooled us for years


“Nobody looks like what you see on TV and in the movies. Everybody is altered,” says Claus Hansen, a beauty-work pioneer who plies his trade at Method Studios, one of the handful of shops in Los Angeles that specialize in video retouching.

After years of silence, Hansen agreed to speak with Mashable about his craft, saying he wants young people who idolize movie, TV and music stars to know that “what they see is smoke and mirrors.”

The path to Hansen’s openness, however, was long and littered with unanswered phone calls, stonewalling and refusals to comment for this story. Though a few insiders acknowledged it — “the stars/celebrities would be horrified” is a direct quote from one email rejection — nobody wanted to talk on the record.


Sometime after the Foxy’s waitress had collected the check, the actor said the technique had begun to spread throughout the film industry — you just didn’t know it, because they weren’t always using it to take 25 years off the onscreen talent. Instead, they were beginning to use it for subtle nip and tuck, the kind of stuff you’d never notice even if you were looking for it.

But it was expensive, and so hush-hush that it was reserved for the Pitt-level celebrities of the world. The only people who knew about digital beauty were those who practiced it, had it practiced on them, or were so high up the studio/agency food chain that they were agreeing not only pay for it, but to quietly hand the film’s finished scenes over for however long it took to get the work done, which was sometimes weeks. In the early goings, actors leveraged studios into paying for the work, but nowadays it's just a part of the budget.

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It's hard to internalize that EVERYBODY IS ALTERED.

As Photoshop is to magazine photography, digital beauty has become to celebrities in motion: a potent blend of makeup, plastic surgery, muscle-sculpting, hair restoration, dental work and dermatology. Even the most flawless-in-real-life human specimens are going under the digital knife. Because they can. Because in this age of ultra-high definition, they have to.

In some cases, it's for pure vanity. In others it's because the film requires it: When a 24-year-old actress is tasked with playing a 17-year-old young-adult heroine, digital beauty becomes more like digital type-casting.

Nobody looks like what you see on TV and in the movies. Everybody is altered.

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