Tobin Bell is part of a cadre of great actors who you see in many projects – television and film – and instantly recognize. Like other exceptional character actors, these people embrace more limited roles and deliver maximum bang for the thespian buck. Great character actors are versatile, have an insane work ethic, and in my opinion are the most important pieces of fabric woven into the Hollywood talent quilt.
Bell’s work, like that of John Turturro, M. Emmet Walsh, Michael Shannon, Andy Serkis or Stephen Tobolowsky, is quite memorable. Now GSN has tapped into his awesomeness and enlisted him for this Wednesday, July 15 at 9pm ET/PT to guest judge on their hit body painting competition series “Skin Wars.”
Bell, of course, is renown for his horror work (specifically the “Saw” franchise) as this competition sharpens its blades and celebrates the great prosthetic makeup work of horror. AMC’s “The Walking Dead” would not be what it is, if not for Greg Nicotero and company’s hard makeup effects design and work.
This is a below the line crafts world dominated by the likes of award winners like Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero (KNB EFX, Walking Dead, Narnia), Nick Dudman (Showtime’s ‘Penny Dreadful’ amazing effects master), Barney Burman (Grimm), Stan Winston (Terminator), Dick Smith (Exorcist) Rick Baker (American Werewolf in London) Tom Savini (Day of the Dead), John Chambers (Planet of the Apes), Todd Tucker (trailer park of terror) and on and on.
These experts take the scripts and work to create a budgets for the make-up effects, assemble the right teams to work with the director on designs and physically build the different creatures, characters and mechanical effects. It’s physical hard work, but the end result sells the film or TV show and creates the mood for the end user.
Mr. Bell hails from the east coast, a son of New York raised in Massachusetts, with a British mother (Eileen Bell) who was an actress. He has that perfect look, an intense, intelligent gaze, high cheekbones and a memorable face that drops you dead in your tracks, until he smiles or laughs.
He began as a stand-in talent for many years before a role in 1988’s “Mississippi Burning” elevated his career. It was his role as the villain “Jigsaw” in the “Saw” films that brought a new level of fame. He’s always a great watch and GSN wisely selected him to assess with the judges on who will win this ghastly makeup challenge.
In the new episode, “Emotional Rollercoaster,” the 8 remaining artists’ initial challenge involves creating a humorous design to make judge RuPaul laugh. However, in the final horror-themed challenge, tensions build as the artists must work together in two groups to create a scary story through their body painted models.
Television’s first-ever body painting competition “Skin Wars,” is hosted by Rebecca Romijn, and winnows the skillful, accomplished and versatile body painters in a focused fight to the win. We see twelve contestants compete in elaborate body painting challenges to avoid elimination and win over the approval of judges, including legendary entertainer RuPaul Charles and body painting icons Craig Tracy and Robin Slonina.
The winner takes home a $100,000 cash prize, an all-expense paid trip for two to the World Body Painting Festival in Austria, and a personalized, nationally-distributed Royal and Langnickel custom brush collection.
For those keeping score, Natalie Fletcher of Bend, Oregon, was named the series’ first winner in season 1.