DirecTV: Less Attractive Rob Lowe
Less Attractive Rob Lowe for DirecTV commercial

This image first appeared in Issue 112 as a Martini Shot. Read below for more details on the make-up.

Companies typically want their commercial spokespeople to look their best. DirecTV had a different idea in mind with its new campaign starring Rob Lowe. Sure, the four spots, conceived by MJZ’s Tom Kuntz, take advantage of the actor’s boyishly good looks. But each also has fun presenting less-than-perfect versions of Lowe.

The concept is that the familiarly handsome Lowe watches DirecTV. His comical doppelgangers—dubbed “Less Attractive,” “Creepy,” “Painfully Awkward” and “Crazy Hairy”—suffer with cable.

Charlotte Ostergren was in charge of Lowe’s regular make-up for the shoot. The task of creating the flawed versions fell to Mike Ornelaz and Scott Stoddard of Legacy Effects.

Kuntz, who directed, came up with the ideas for the four alternates, mapping them out with some rough sketches. Legacy refined the designs in Photoshop. But the real magic took place during an improv session with Lowe, Kuntz and the two make-up artists.

“We kind of just stuck stuff on Rob real quick: ‘What about this? What about that?’” remembers Stoddard, adding that he and Ornelaz did do a cast of Lowe’s teeth, as they knew they would need to create mouth appliances. “But other than that, it was generic pieces. The first testing we did wasn’t a true make-up test; it was just putting on little hairpieces, little appliances. And then Rob would give his input as to what he liked.”

Two transformations took place daily over the two-day shoot. Stoddard estimates each took just under two hours to complete.

They were accomplished with liquid Skin Illustrator colors, a Maqpro Fard Crème Foundation Palette, teeth appliances and hairpieces. Aside from a bald cap, the only prosthetic was a foam-latex brow cover for “Less Attractive” Lowe.

The team decided on a less-is-more approach after creating a version of the “Painfully Awkward” Lowe that lost a little too much of the actor.

“There wasn’t enough of Rob left,” continues Stoddard. “The client loved it, but they said, ‘It’s not Rob anymore.’ We had to dial it back a bit. Take the nose piece off.”

Lowe did have fun taking that particular disguise for a test run around the backlot. “He was going up to girls, saying hi to them,” Stoddard says with a laugh. “They would ignore him and walk away because he was just so creepy looking.”

It turns out Lowe was their secret weapon for making the spots work. Stoddard remembers how much the actor looked forward to becoming the comical Lowes. “He was a guy who totally enjoyed the make-up,” says Stoddard. “As make-up artists, we’re only doing 50 percent of the character. It’s up to the actor to bring it to life and make it work. He had a ball getting into it … ad libbing lines and stuff. I think he enjoyed poking fun at himself.”

The television audience is also enjoying it. The response to the commercials has been so positive, Stoddard says, that another wave of DirecTV spots is in the planning stages. Though Legacy is onboard and Ornelaz will work his magic, a prior commitment won’t allow Stoddard to be involved. “I wish I was going to be on the next set of them,” he says. “It was fun.”