Hellboy, Predator, The Monster Squad, Beetlejuice, Aliens, Invaders From Mars, Harry and the Hendersons, Fright Night Part 2, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Ed Wood, Wolf, Batman Forever, Men in Black 3, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Ring, Gorillas in the Mist, The Rocketeer, Mighty Joe Young, The Nutty Professor, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek Beyond, Bright… When your make-up résumé looks like this, it stops becoming a résumé and becomes your legacy. This is Matt Rose’s legacy.
Rose died on Friday, Jan. 25. He was 53. His death shook the make-up industry.
As a protégé of make-up legends Stan Winston and Rick Baker, Rose prolifically contributed his talents to notable films, many aforementioned.
Rose was born Oct. 22, 1965. He was raised in San Jose, California, where—even as a young boy—he would sculpt monsters out of clay. One of his first professional gigs was designing miniatures for Winston on James Cameron’s Aliens. One job led to another, until more than 15 years had passed with Rose working at Cinovation Studios alongside Baker.
Among some of his most iconic looks is Hellboy in Guillermo del Toro’s film and Gill Man on The Monster Squad.
Some of the industry legends and leaders have commented on Rose’s passing on social media and to Make-Up Artist magazine. Their comments are below:
Michael Key, publisher of Make-Up Artist magazine, commented to the Facebook community:
Michael Key, publisher of Make-Up Artist magazine, commented to the Facebook community: “I have received word from several people that Matt Rose passed away last night. This is shocking news to me because Matt is my age. If you’re not familiar with him. You should take a look at his IMDb. Matt was an extremely gifted sculptor and worked for Rick Baker, Stan Winston, etc. He contributed significantly to Predator, The Nutty Professor, Gremlins 2, etc. The last of which I had the pleasure of working with Matt and the most talented artists of my career. His talent was off the chart. Matt was one of the most responsible for the original Hellboy movie. I spoke with him about being a part of reunion panel a few weeks ago. He said he was very appreciative but unable to join. We had a few conversations about celebrating his career in Make-Up Artist magazine in the next issue. I had no idea that it could be possible for him to pass at such a young age. We have lost a great artist.”
Deverill Weekes, industry photographer:
“Matt was an incredible artist with a beautiful soul. It was such a gift to know and spend time with him.”
Kazuhiro Tsuji in an Instagram post:
“I’m very sad about his passing. Matt Rose was and still is the best artist in the film industry. He was great sculptor, designer and he had many talents. And he was genuine kind and caring person. When I visited a studio in Tokyo, it was before I started my career, he was happened to be there in 1987. He was very kind, stopped working on one of the sculptures and talked to me. He always cared about people in the industry. He was great friend and someone I looked up to and deeply respected. When I started to work with him at Rick Baker’s studio from 1996 he had always supported me and made things easier. He took me to DMV to take driving test too. This photo was from when we were preparing for Planet of the Apes in 2000, I applied this makeup on Matt. Sculpted by Jim McPherson. Hair work done by Sylvia Nava. I was putting contact lenses on him and he had hard time. I screamed at him just stay still and keep your eye open. Then he could get the lens on. He was the most sensible person in the studio and we had a lot of conversation. I miss that time. I feel very fortunate that I could meet him in my life. I hoped he had better life situation and lived longer. He had amazing sensitivity and kind soul, I felt sorry that he couldn’t treat himself as he treated others. He will be remembered as great history and legend.”
Artist Jordu Schell paid tribute to Rose on Facebook:
“I’m getting PMs asking me who Matt Rose was. If you’re in this industry and don’t know, you should. Matt was, arguably, the best sculptor this business has ever known. His credit list is astonishing, and the art and design he gave us raised the bar for every single artist who does this work. I stood in absolute awe of his talent, and I learned so much from him in the time I spent with him that it’s difficult to measure. Imagine having Rick Baker working for you for months, creating perfect piece after perfect piece that need zero art direction; imagine the stories and knowledge and information contained in that mind; imagine knowing a sculpting legend, becoming friends with him after years of reading about his work as a teenager, having hours of discussions and laughs and story exchanges. Imagine the respect and admiration and love that I —and everyone else— felt for this man. And now he’s gone. How doesn’t matter. We’ve lost a precious thing. And there aren’t enough tears to express the depth of that loss.”
He added, “Goddamn it, Matt. We still need you.”
And on Instagram, Baker wrote that Rose “never failed to make me look good.”
“I have been lucky enough to have [had] some of the most amazingly talented artists work with me on many projects, but none more talented than Matt,” he continued. “Matt could sculpt a maquette in no time, and they didn’t look like a quick sculpt but a piece of art.”
On Twitter, Del Toro lamented Rose’s death:
“Matt Rose passing hurts deep. If our craft ever had a golden age, he was one of the Titans. And a real pal: approachable, generous and full of love.”
“I love this industry. I love the craft. I love everything about it, but the best thing out of my career is knowing all of my colleagues. I really mean that. Even if you have arguments, there is still this sense of camaraderie that we all share. We have all been in the same battles together, and we understand the importance of being supportive for each other, even if we don’t always agree 100 percent on everything.”
Rose was greatly loved and will be missed. Survivors include his parents Anna and Mike; siblings Michael, Pamella, Cathy, Mark and Stephanie; and six nieces and nephews.
We will have more on Matt Rose’s career in the upcoming issue of Make-Up Artist magazine.