Casting Session

Robert Llewellyn undergoes his traditional Trial by Plaster.

22 June, 2001

There's a certain bond that develops between actors and make-up people over the years - especially when the actor in question regularly has his head coated in glue and rubber to the point where he can no longer easily consume food. So it was that on Thursday, June 8th Andrea Finch and Robert Llewellyn greeted each other as if they were veterans of some terrible (yet humorous) war to begin the process of casting Robert's body, hands and face in preparation for Red Dwarf - The Movie.

Plaster king Paul Spateri - whose work you might have seen in Candyman, The Mummy and the forthcoming Harry Potter movie - and his team began by covering the room in plastic sheeting. Between that and the white coveralls, there was a distinct X-Files vibe to the day. By the time it came to squeezing Robert into a leotard and coating him in skin cream this correspondent was checking the room for anything that looked probe-like!

Rob puts on a leotard and gets greased up. Not for the first time, it must be said...

"Some of the fans would pay a lot to see this," Robert said of his rather oily condition. "They're arriving at 1.30, Robert," replied Paul. The morning began with the full body casting (excluding feet, head and hands). Measured up for wooden support struts, Robert's eyes widened with terror, "Oh no, they're going to crucify me!"

Covered in plaster bandages, Robert's body quickly became strained. Two minutes into the process, his baleful eyes hunted for sympathy. "My feet hurt already. I'm in pain, Andrea," he mock-whined. "I've got a humpback anyway - as my mum delights in pointing out."

As the process continued until Robert was thoroughly encased, the subject inevitably turned to trouser matters. As his arm began to seize up, Andrea asked if there was anything Robert needed massaging. "There's only one thing I want you to massage Andrea, but I think you'd need a drill..." It also turns out that the lead character in Robert's forthcoming novel 'Brother Nature' is surprisingly well-endowed. "Other writers start with the shoes, with the walk. I start with penis size."

Rob gets stiff. It's not what you think, though... honest!

With the seal cracked, Paul and his team began to wriggle Leotard Man out of the mould - complete with "come on Robert, one more push and it's out" cries from Andrea. On his release, Robert was a lot more comfy and not a little proud: "I'm so happy I haven't farted. That was my big anxiety..."

Following a shower came the alginate hand casting - which basically involves sticking your (lubricated) hand into a bucket of pink gunk until it sets. "It's like sticking your hand in a dead cow," Robert commented - though refused to answer when Paul asked him how he knew what that was like.

Rob goes mouldy...

After lunch, the team began the head casting. Walking into the room, Robert hesitated. "I'm just trying to decide if I need a wee or not... no. I shouldn't be so public about these things," he concluded, stepping forward and seeing the team's key piece of equipment: "Oh, you've got a bucket anyway."

As the plaster-coated bandages covered the back of his head, Robert had only one thing on his skull-cap-covered mind: "Can you smoke while the head's being done? Through a straw?" Paul was on hand with a plan for the only person in the room not proving suitably useful, "We'll have Andrew blow smoke in for you."

With the alginate about to go on, it was time to reveal the source of the gunge, as Paul admitted that the fast-setting substance was made from seaweed. Not even slightly put off, Robert allowed his face to be coated and the rubbery mask to be layered with yet more bandages. One face-wriggle later and the mould was off.

Apparently Rob gives good head...

With replica Llewellyn hands already made, plus a body and head on the way, the costume and make-up team of Red Dwarf - The Movie will shortly have a motionless double of Robert upon which to create the new Kryten costume. As Robert himself commented from amongst the lubricant and rubber, "There are websites devoted to this kind of thing..." Yes, indeed there are. This one.

A shelf in Rob's bedroom?

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