Meet a NoHo-based creature maker behind some of the scariest creations to ever hit the big screen.
Written byPauline Adamek
"I don’t like horror movies,” smiles Steve Wang. It’s a startling confession from the famed creature creator, who first brought to life a rapacious alien in 1987’s sci-fi horror flick Predator when he was barely 20 years old. For the past 27 years, he has been designing weird and wonderful mythical creatures for Hollywood movies, TV shows and video game companies, calling on his skills as a sculptor and painter for physical (meaning practical) creations.
The imaginative artist responsible for the nightmarish monsters in Hellboy, Underworld 1 and 2, Predator, Batman Returns, Beetlejuice, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem—among others—began his career with special effects makeup back in the mid-‘80s. Mentored by legendary Oscar-winning special effects supervisor and makeup artist, the late Stan Winston, Steve learned about makeup, puppets and practical effects but soon parlayed his own prodigious talents into creature design.
“I always had a fascination with Halloween masks as a little kid,” recalls Steve, who moved with his family from Taiwan to the U.S. when he was 8. He taught himself how to construct papier-mâché and latex masks. His hard work and creative enthusiasm eventually led to a successful Hollywood career—something that, he says, has exceeded his wildest dreams.
Tucked away in an industrial section of North Hollywood is Steve Wang’s bustling workshop, Biomorphs, Inc. On a recent weekend visit, four smiling assistants were feverishly laboring on one of the shop’s current orders.
“In this business, we’re all clowns,” Steve says. “If you come into my shop during the day, you’ll hear laughter all day long. Yes, we’re highly skilled artists and technicians, but we feel like Santa’s elves building high-tech toys.”
These days, most of the contracts Wang receives are not for movies. “Currently we’re building a lot of realistic, life-sized statues of characters for video game companies, like Blizzard Entertainment, Riot Games and Red 5 Studios,” shares Steve, whose recent creations have been statues such as Vikings, aliens and space warriors that stand 7 feet high.
“It’s a prestige thing. These companies are the biggest in the world, so they can afford to build the kind of stuff we make, because making a replica of a virtual character is a very expensive process.”
These statues go on display at gaming conventions for die-hard fans and enthusiastic gamers who have previously only seen them in a virtual world. “So when they see them in a realistic interpretation, they really freak out and the buzz goes nuts,” he explains.
Steve also works as a commissioned sculptor. Recently he created a full-sized, cast bronze statue for the centerpiece of
”Su-Warrior” from the film The Jitters.
the courtyard at video game company Blizzard Entertainment’s European headquarters. An exquisite statue of Sarah Kerrigan, aka Queen of Blades and popular nemesis from StarCraft II, now looms outside Blizzard’s offices in Versailles, France.
From design specs to photos, clay maquette, silicone mold, wax pieces and casting in bronze, the ambitious sculpture was almost a year in the making. While he won’t disclose the cost, Steve Wang admits it was “in the hundreds of thousands.” While her legions of fans may not agree if she’s alien, human or hybrid, the general consensus is that Kerrigan is sexy.
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