Kazu Hiro

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Kazu Hiro
Kazuhiro Tsuji

(1969-05-26) May 26, 1969 (age 54)
NationalityAmerican (naturalized 2019)
Occupation(s)Portrait sculptor, special make-up effects artist
Years active1988–present

Kazu Hiro (born Kazuhiro Tsuji, Japanese: 辻 一弘 Tsuji Kazuhiro; born May 26, 1969) is a Japanese-born American special make-up effects artist and visual artist.[1] He won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for the biographical films Darkest Hour (2017) and Bombshell (2019) after earning nominations for the comedies Click (2006) and Norbit (2007).[2][3][4]

Life and career[edit]

Kazu Hiro grew up in Kyoto, where he spent much of his time alone engaging in art projects.[1] Kazu Hiro came across an issue of Fangoria which featured Dick Smith and his work turning Hal Holbrook into Abraham Lincoln for the 1976 miniseries Lincoln.[1] This led to Kazu Hiro's own experiments with special make-up effects, photos of which he began sending to Dick Smith after discovering his P.O. box in the back of a magazine.[1] The two would eventually meet in person when Smith traveled to Japan to work on Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Sweet Home.[5] Smith invited Kazu Hiro to work on the film with him and this began his film career.[5]

While working on Sweet Home, Kazu Hiro met fellow artist Eddie Yang, who was visiting from the United States. In 1996, Kazu Hiro moved to Los Angeles to work with Yang and Smith's protege, Rick Baker, on his first U.S. work, Men in Black.[1] Continuing his work with Baker, Kazu Hiro worked on many projects including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, for which he won a BAFTA.[1]

Kazu Hiro crafted the silicone model of Brad Pitt's head used to artificially age him via CGI for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008.[1] In 2012, Kazu Hiro created the prosthetics which turned Joseph Gordon-Levitt into a young Bruce Willis for Looper.[6]

After his work on Looper, Kazu Hiro retired from the film industry[1] and focused on sculpture,[7] crafting giant busts of people such as Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dalí, and Abraham Lincoln, as well as Smith.[1]

For the 2017 film Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman talked Kazu Hiro out of retirement to create the Winston Churchill prosthetics.[1] Oldman had been considered for the role of General Thade in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (the role went to his Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead co-star, Tim Roth)[1] and Kazu Hiro's work at that time had impressed Oldman enough that for him, Kazu Hiro was the only man to turn him into Churchill. For this work, Kazu Hiro won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.[8]

He won the award again in 2020 for his work in the 2019 film Bombshell, where he made prosthetics for Charlize Theron as news anchor Megyn Kelly.[9]

Personal life[edit]

In March 2019, Tsuji became an American citizen and officially changed his name to Kazu Hiro.[10][11] At the 2020 Academy Awards, Kazu Hiro said he became an American citizen because he "got tired" of Japanese culture, which he found "too submissive" and a place where it is "hard to make a dream come true".[12]


Year Title Designation
1989 Sweet Home Special makeup effects artist
1991 Rhapsody in August Special makeup effects artist
1992 Minbo Special makeup effects artist
1997 Critical Care Makeup application: Albert Brooks
1997 Men in Black Sculptor[5]
1997 The Devil's Advocate Principal artist
2000 Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Sculptor[7]
1999 Life Key makeup artist
1999 Wild Wild West Makeup designer
2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Makeup artist: Jim Carrey as Grinch[1]
2001 Planet of the Apes Designer/sculptor: Cinovation Studios/

makeup designer: Tim Roth as General Thade/makeup designer: ape makeup

2002 Men in Black II Special makeup effects artist
2003 The Haunted Mansion Special makeup effects artist
2004 Hellboy Special makeup effects artist
2004 Blade: Trinity Art supervisor
2005 The Ring Two Makeup effects supervisor
2006 Click Prosthetic makeup supervisor
2007 Norbit Prosthetic makeup supervisor
2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Special makeup effects artist[1]
2009 Angels & Demons Prosthetic makeup artist
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Special makeup effects artist
2009 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Prosthetic makeup designer: "The Doctor"
2010 Salt Prosthetic makeup designer: Angelina Jolie
2010 Tron: Legacy Special makeup effects artist
2012 Hemingway & Gellhorn Special effects makeup artist: Nicole Kidman
2012 Total Recall Special makeup effects artist[7]
2012 Looper Prosthetic makeup designer: Joseph Gordon-Levitt[6]
2012 The Place Beyond the Pines Prosthetic makeup crew
2017 Darkest Hour Prosthetic makeup and hair designer: Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill[1]
2019 Bombshell Prosthetic makeup and hair designer: John Lithgow as Roger Ailes
2023 Maestro Prosthetic makeup and hair designer: Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2007 Academy Award Best Makeup & Hairstyling Click Nominated [13]
2008 Norbit Nominated [14]
2018 Darkest Hour Won [15]
2020 Bombshell Won [16]
2024 Maestro Nominated [17]
2022 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup Gaslit: Final Days Nominated
2024 Santa Barbara International Film Festival Variety Artisans Award – Hairstyling/Makeup Maestro Honored [18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Jones, Nate (December 1, 2017). "How Gary Oldman Lured a Makeup Magician Back for One More Job". Vulture.com. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  2. ^ "Click - Academy Awards". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  3. ^ Ryder, Caroline (February 12, 2008). "'Norbit' Achievement in Makeup Oscar nominee". Variety. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  4. ^ "Darkest Hour". Oscar.go.com. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "The amazing story of Hollywood Make-up artist Kazuhiro Tsuji". Spoon & Tamago. June 14, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Whipp, Glenn (August 31, 2012). "'Looper': Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rian Johnson are a tight team". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Fulton, Wil (January 20, 2015). "These Massive Sculptures Of Lincoln, Warhol And Dali Are Hyper-Realistic". Thrillist. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  8. ^ Keegan, Rebecca (September 5, 2017). "How Gary Oldman Was Finally Convinced to Play Winston Churchill". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Minutaglio, Rose (January 16, 2020). "Charlize Theron's Unrecognizable Bombshell Transformation Is All Thanks to Prosthetist Kazu Hiro". Elle. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  10. ^ "A research collaboration with artist Kazu Hiro: Using art and science to find the unique, expressive beauty that matures inside every person with passing years" (Press release). Kao Corporation. May 14, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  11. ^ Saruwatari, Yuki (January 14, 2020). カズ・ヒロ氏、またもやオスカー候補入り。国籍と名前を変えた心境を聞く. Yahoo! News (in Japanese). Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  12. ^ "Oscar Winners for 'Bombshell' Full Press Room Speech". The Hollywood Reporter. February 9, 2020. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "The 79th Academy Awards (2007) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. AMPAS. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  14. ^ "The 80th Academy Awards (2008) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  15. ^ "The 90th Academy Awards (2018) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  16. ^ "The 92nd Academy Awards (2020) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on February 25, 2019. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  17. ^ "96TH OSCARS® NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED". press.oscars.org. Retrieved January 31, 2024.
  18. ^ Jazz Tangcay (January 17, 2024). "Billie Eilish, Finneas, Ludwig Goransson, Rodrigo Prieto and More to Be Feted With Variety Artisans Awards at Santa Barbara Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved January 19, 2024.

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