All-American Rejects’ Tyson Ritter Ages at the Hands of Makeup Effects Artist Tony Gardner

Tony Gardner Creates Several Different Age Makeups for Catherine Hardwick’s Heartbreaking Music Video for the Song “There’s A Place,” from her Toni Collette / Drew Barrymore film “Miss You Already.”

When Director Catherine Hardwicke was dreaming up the concept for her music video for the song “There’s A Place,” a very moving song from her Drew Barrymore/Toni Collette film “Miss You Already,” one of the biggest challenges was how best to illustrate the passing of time and love lost.

The song was written and performed by Tyson Ritter, the front man of the band All-American Rejects, and was written specifically for the film; Tyson is in the film as a love interest of Toni Collette’s character.

As Tyson would be singing the song on camera within the music video, it was decided that he would in essence represent his film persona within the video, and gradually age from his thirties into his nineties during the course of the performance. A great way to illustrate the passing of time, but how to achieve all of this within one night of guerilla style film-making?

The answer: Makeup Effects Designer Tony Gardner, whose past prosthetic makeup challenges have included turning John Travolta into a buxom housewife for the film “Hairspray,” and unleashing an elderly Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) on the unsuspecting public for Spike Jonze’s “Jackass” films and the Oscar-nominated “Bad Grandpa.” (Nominated for Special Effects Makeup, of course.)

Gardner and his team of artists at Alterian ( had less than two weeks to create the prosthetics required for the three different stages of Tyson’s prosthetic age makeup. “Having very little prep time seems to be the name of the game these days,” says Gardner, “so you just have to ride the adrenalin wave and pull all the elements together as fast as you can before the clock runs out. Fortunately I had (fellow makeup effects artist) Hugo Villasenor with me on location to help make it all happen.”

Tony Gardner is no stranger to projects with high demands. Director Danny Boyle came to Gardner to realize sequences from the film “127 HOURS,” asking Gardner to design and create the prosthetic effects pieces that would allow James Franco to cut through and sever his arm on camera and in real time, and with complete medical accuracy. He’s also had his share of odd requests, from creating robotic helmets for Daft Punk, to creating movie characters with a high list of demands.

“The weirdest meeting I can recall was for “Hocus Pocus,” and went essentially like this: ‘Can you design a 300 year old zombie who has his mouth stitched shut with leather cord, gets his fingers sliced off on camera, and his head knocked off and reattached a couple times? And while you’re at it, we also want to run over a cat with a bus and then have it reinflate on camera. …and please make this all “kid friendly” of course, ….this is a Disney film.'”

Gardner continues, “Of course I said yes! Challenges like those are what I find exciting, and the more ‘impossible’ someone says the project might be, the more I seem to be attracted to it. For this music video, four stages of progressive age makeup filmed outdoors, and all within one single evening, definitely qualified as one of those projects.”

Time was definitely the major challenge, as was the complexity of the final stage of prosthetic makeup. To solve the issue of the three hour application time for the 90-year-old version of Tyson, it was decided that Tony and Hugo would start that makeup while the sun was still up, and time the completion of the makeup to sunset, so filming could start literally the moment the sun went down.

“Working in reverse order was the only way to make this work,” said Gardner, “Subtracting prosthetics from Tyson to make him younger was faster than adding prosthetics to make him older. The biggest challenge was peeling of the 90-year-old neck and replacing it with the 75-year-old neck while also swapping out all of the hairpieces for what we called his ‘Neil Diamond look,” all within the two hour timeframe alloted.”

Gardner added, “We had until 5:00am or so to get everything on camera, that’s when sunrise would end our day. Thankfully we had (Producer) Jamie Holt on this to help manage our time wisely, and keep things moving at a fast pace – she was a godsend.”

“The entire process was a great experience, and actually very emotional to film… something I wasn’t expecting, really, and very rarely experience. The shoot was a labor of love from the entire crew, and I think that it really shows on screen. Tyson was amazing to work with, and made it look effortless to pull of everything he had to do: hours in the makeup chair, lip syncing to playback only he was wired to hear, and pulling off an emotional performance all at the same time. And Catherine was pretty brilliant in regards to how she used what little light there was and even the local residents to add richness and life to what’s onscreen, and never made anyone feel rushed or stressed. The ‘impossible project’ really turned out to be quite the dream job.”