Stan Winston was an American visual effects supervisor, make-up artist, and film director. He was best known for his work in the Terminator series, the Jurassic Park series, Aliens, the Predator series, Iron Man and Edward Scissorhands. He won four Academy Awards for his work. The established areas of expertise for Winston were in makeup, puppets and practical effects.
After a makeup apprenticeship at Walt Disney Studios, Winston established his own company, Stan Winston Studio, and won an Emmy Award for his effects work. Winston created the Wookiee costumes for the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special and designed the make-up effects for Dead & Buried (1981). His ground-breaking work with Rob Bottin on John Carpenter's science fiction horror classic The Thing in 1982 brought him to prominence in Hollywood (Mentor Huebner and Mike Ploog worked as storyboard artists on that movie). Winston reached a new level of fame in 1984 when James Cameron's The Terminator (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger) was released, and Winston's work in bringing the titular metallic killing machine to life led to many new projects and additional collaborations with Cameron. Winston won his first Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 1986 on James Cameron's next movie, Aliens. Winston and his company worked on many more Hollywood films, including Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, John McTiernan's Predator, Alien Nation, The Monster Squad, and Predator 2. James Cameron drafted Winston and his team once again for the groundbreaking Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and Winston's work won him two more Oscars for Best Makeup Effects and Best Visual Effects. In 1992, he worked on Tim Burton's sequel, Batman Returns, before turning his attention to dinosaurs when Steven Spielberg enlisted him to bring Jurassic Park to the screen in 1993, and Winston won another Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Winston and his team expanded their work into animatronics.
In early 1995 Oliver Stone, working as executive producer, had developed a new Planet of the Apes movie project for 20th Century Fox - titled Return of the Apes. He had recruited Terry Hayes to write the screenplay, Phillip Noyce to direct and Arnold Schwarzenegger to star, with pre-production planned with a $100 million budget. Stone first approached Rick Baker, who had already worked on Adam Rifkin's previous failed attempt at an Apes remake, to design the prosthetic makeup, but eventually opted for Stan Winston. However, dissatisfied with Fox's decision to fire Hayes, Phillip Noyce left Return of the Apes in February 1995. Oliver Stone then switched his attention to other film projects.
Director Chris Columbus took over the helm next, hiring scriptwriter Sam Hamm. Stan Winston Studios was still working on the makeup designs and spent a large amount of time on research and development work. "The makeup that was designed for the tests was really pretty impressive. Stan and his son made a demo reel of improvisational stuff in the makeup under the direction of Chris Columbus. It was great." Hamm's final Planet of the Apes draft kept some aspects of Terry Hayes' script but owed much to Pierre Boulle's source novel, but after Hamm's script failed to meet Fox's approval, Columbus dropped out in late 1995.
Next, James Cameron was in talks to executive produce and write, but said no to directing as he was busy filming his massive hit Titanic. Despite all these setbacks, Fox still maintained that the film would be made. Cameron was rumored to have completed a screenplay by November 1998. However in December Cameron, disillusioned, quit the project.
Fox went back to the drawing-board to figure out a new direction and began meeting with several top directors and writers. In March 1999, William Broyles Jr. was hired to write a script. Fox projected a release date of July 2001, and Stan Winston continued to develop animatronic makeup masks. Broyles provided the studio with an outline in January 2000, set on the fictional planet "Aschlar". It was entitled 'The Visitor' and billed as "episode one in the Chronicles of Aschlar". Tim Burton was chosen to direct in February 2000. Burton began some 'tweaking' of Broyles' script, while Stan Winston was replaced by makeup wizard Rick Baker in May. Fox had considered using computer-generated imagery to create the apes, but Burton insisted on using Baker's prosthetic makeup. Burton commented, "I have a relationship with both of them, so that decision was hard. Stan worked on 'Edward Scissorhands' and Baker did Martin Landau's makeup [as Béla Lugosi in 'Ed Wood']".
In 2001, Winston, together with Lou Arkoff and Colleen Camp, produced a series of five made-for-cable films for Cinemax and HBO, referred to as Creature Features. One of Winston's most ambitious animatronics projects was Steven Spielberg's AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001). He worked again with Tim Burton on Big Fish (2003), and revisited past successes with Jurassic Park III (2001), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and Terminator Salvation (2009), and contributed before his death to James Cameron's huge hit Avatar (2009).
- 'The Apes of Wrath' (Entertainment Weekly), by Anne Thompson
- Planet of the Apes Fanclub news page
- The Planet of the Apes Chronicles, by Paul A. Woods
- Tales From Development Hell, by David Hughes
- 'Ape Crusaders' (Entertainment Weekly), by Benjamin Svetkey