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Taraji P. Henson on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Published December 23, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount Pictures
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Brad Pitt ages backwards in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button but he's not the only one aging. As his adoptive mom, Queenie, Taraji P. Henson ages in normal order, from her young self in post-World War I New Orleans to a septuagenarian when her son returns as a young buck.

Taraji Raises Benjamin Button

"For the oldest age, 71, [it took] four hours," Henson said. "It was weird because you'd look like an old person and you catch yourself in the mirror walking really fast. It was just really bizarre and strange. You kind of forget the makeup was there. The prosthetic pieces were really, really thin. I always imagined it to be really heavy, and cumbersome, but it wasn't. There were times when my skin would itch underneath, and I would go to scratch, and I would be like, 'God, why can't I feel it? I'm going numb.' They did an amazing work. It was almost when I would look at Brad or Cate or whoever else had the aging makeup, it was seamless, even in person. I tell you this: I have a new found respect for Jim Carrey and Eddie Murphy and Tyler Perry, these guys who do this all the time, because they sit in the chair eight hours sometimes, and then they still have to go and do their day. I couldn't imagine."

Though Queenie is a supporting role, Henson's work on the film was the equivalent of most feature lead roles. "Started in November, I finished about the second week in February in New Orleans, and then I had like two weeks in March. We had long days. We had days where we would work on one scene, because it was so much. And we couldn't flip flop with the ages, because the prosthetic process took so long. So, if you were 71, you had to do all the 71 scenes that day. And nine times out of ten, you would get maybe one or two scenes done."

Set in New Orleans, the film works Hurricane Katrina into its epic span of events. "It's just a beautiful display of history, and it spans such a wide time in history, they really wanted to make it present. Bring it home. They were going to film it in New Orleans, before Katrina hit. That just kind of happened. And so now, we're in New Orleans, we can't act like Katrina never happened, so how do we implement in into the film? We'll never forget Hurricane Katrina because I think this film is going to be around long after we're gone. For the technology alone, people will be studying it."

Despite all the special effects, putting Pitt's face on an elderly body and all, director David Fincher still concentrated on the actors. "I don't know if he's done any acting, I think he has, he just won't let on, because the things he would say to me, I would be like, 'Wait a minute, dude. You've done this before, you've been on this side of the camera.' It's even better when they're writer, director, actor because that's full circle. But directors who have acted before, they really understand actors. They know we're crazy, but they allow us our process. Again, Fincher did the same thing."

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button opens to theaters on December 25th.

For the trailers, posters, stills and more movie info, go to the The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Paramount Pictures

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