Amy L. Taylor - SMB Archive Interview: 06/3/2011 by Steven Applebaum
The following interview provides a look into the personal experiences of makeup artist Amy L. Taylor, daughter of the film's production designer David L. Snyder.
Super Mario Bros. was one of her early projects and one that would shape the relationships of a long and passionate career. Her fondness for the film is best traced through her youthful exuberance in working on it. Read on and enjoy the experience through yet another person who made the movie as wonderful as it could be.
Steven Applebaum: Could you first tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get involved with makeup and the film industry?
Amy Taylor: Makeup was something I was always interested in... I was the girl doing everyone's makeup for Prom, school pictures, Halloween; you name it. (laughs)
When I graduated high school, my mom had a friend that was in a theatrical makeup school, and used me as her class model. It was that moment I decided to enroll in the next semester and try to make a living doing this.
I happened to visit the set of a movie my dad was working on called "Cold Dog Soup". I introduced myself to the Makeup Department Head (Michelle Buhler). This was back when they had an internship program (fresh out of makeup school kids doing makeup on background actors) and she hired me to work as part of her team. As amazing luck would have it, the movie turned union and I was able to get my 30 days and join right out of the gate. I was incredibly lucky.
SA: How and when did you become a part of the Super Mario Bros. project?
AT: My father was already attached to Super Mario Bros. and I had been working on a series of low budget films for Troma, Trimark, etc. I asked him for the name of the Producer so I could submit a resume. Fred Caruso called me for an interview.
I told my dad to not mention to him our relation, and he did. (laughs) I had a great meeting with Fred, and after the interview, he said "You have the job... I don't give a f--- who your father is... I think you'll do a great job." (laughs)
SA: How familiar were you beforehand with the Super Mario Bros. games? Did you do any research to help you become invested in the project?
AT: I was a huge fan of the games, etc. I was a child of the ‘80s and had spent a good chunk of my teen years in arcades. The research part came later when I went to NC to meet Jeff Goodwin and find out exactly what I was doing on the film. This was my first big budget location movie, I was a bit intimidated at first. I was 22 years old.
SA: What were your duties as a makeup artist?
AT: Jeff is an amazing department head. He runs a very efficient department, but still manages to make it really fun. He split up the case between him, myself, and Sandra.
I was responsible for John Leguizamo, Terry Finn, Fisher Stevens, two of the Brooklyn Girls, and multiple co-stars and background. Every single background actor in Koopaville had to come through makeup and hair. It was a ton of work in terrible humidity, but I really learned an amazing amount that I still apply today from Jeff.
SA: What did you think of the location that the film was shot at, in the Ideal Cement Factory? If I’m not mistaken, almost all of the sets and special effects and makeup departments were all located inside the factory. Did your working dynamic change depending on whether you were working in the closed sets of the Cement Factory or on location in Wilmington?
AT: I still haven't forgiven my dad for that cement factory. (laughs)
That was one brutal location! It was summer, so the humidity was insane. I came from California, so it was a huge adjustment for me. It was a real challenge for makeup and hair to keep everyone looking the same way they did when they left the trailer.
SA: Jeff Goodwin (Key Makeup Artist) has told us that he always tries to integrate a team dynamic into his makeup departments. What was your experience like working with Jeff and the rest of the team?
AT: Jeff is so much fun to work with! He is also really, really talented. It's a rare gift to excel at beauty and FX makeup, and he absolutely does. He keeps it fun, plays a lot of pranks! He definitely made our average 15 hour days (6 days a week!) far easier to handle.
SA: Jeff also told us that he broke up the makeup work for the main actors between him, Sandra Orsolyak, and yourself—with you primarily handling John Leguizamo. What was it like working with John?
AT: John is awesome. I had a great time with him. He's got this infectious energy and just goes nonstop. All of the out-of-towners were staying in Wrightsville Beach, and we were all neighbors for 4 months. He was really fun to have in my chair.
SA: Who were some of the other actors or extras you did makeup for?
AT: John Leguizamo, The Hatcheck Girl, Brooklyn Girls, Fisher Stevens, as well as Lance Henrickson (who we shot in Los Angeles). Several residents of Koopaville, etc.
SA: Do you recall any deleted or extended scenes from the movie that were filmed?
AT: Not off the top of my head... We shot for 4 months, so I’m certain there are some. (laughs)
SA: We’ve heard that Super Mario Bros. was a difficult production for many of the people involved. What was the most difficult task you had to accomplish?
AT: The cement factory was a really tough location and we were there for months. We also got to the point where we were working 7 days a week with not a lot of rest. I was pretty beat up!
SA: Your father David L. Snyder was the production designer on the film. What was your interaction with him like during the production?
AT: I actually didn't see a whole lot of him on set! We've only worked on a few things together, and it's always nice when we can. We had a few families on that set. I consider it a bonus when you can be with your family while on location.
SA: If you had to choose, what would be your favorite shot from the film?
AT: I loved filming the club scenes! They were hilarious.
SA: Do you have any funny or interesting about the cast, crew, or film’s production?
AT: Since we all lived on the beach in Wrightsville Beach, we would have these great parties and go shoot pool at the pier. Dennis Hopper had his own motor home there, and we'd all play poker in there. I could actually say that I beat Dennis at poker!
He was really an amazing person. I was so sorry when he passed away.
SA: What did you think of the film when you first saw it?
AT: I loved it. Maybe because I was so close to it... I just played the DVD for my daughters and my 3-year-old loved watching it. People also don’t realize how cutting edge the effects were for its time.
SA: As the years have gone on, Super Mario Bros. has emerged as a cult favorite despite its initial failure at the box office and criticism from some fans of the game series. Have your opinions on the film changed after all these years?
AT: I own it on DVD and will always be proud to have been a part of it. With all of these movies out now about torturing people, it's nice to watch something so innocent.
SA: What’s the best part about being a film makeup artist? How does Super Mario Bros. compare to some of the other films or shows you’ve worked on?
AT: I love my job. I've been doing this for 23 years now and I never get bored with it. Every new job is a learning experience, and I get to meet creative, interesting people. SMB was probably to this day one of the hardest jobs I've had as far as workload goes. The closest to that was Blades Of Glory.
SA: What are you doing these days?
AT: I have done a ton of music videos and national commercials, as well as feature films and television. I primarily do television... The last few years I was on Ally McBeal, Suddenly Susan, Crossing Jordan, Private Practice, Melissa & Joey, and worked on the movie Blades Of Glory.
SA: Do you have any final comments for us fans of the film?
AT: I'm actually happy to see there's still an interest in the movie. The cast and crew put in a lot of hard work, so it’s nice to see it celebrated instead of slammed.
Sure, it's cheesy and hokey, but it's still a really fun movie.