Face Off's Ricky Vitus spills his guts on learning from a horror master
How did he land on Face Off? Where did his gender-swap Shakespearean makeup go sour? Ricky Vitus pours out his thoughts in our exclusive one-on-one interview about what he would do differently if given another shot, and loads more.
SheKnows: It really seemed like you had a strong shot at going deep into this competition, and even winning the game. What happened?
Ricky Vitus: It's unpredictable. It really is. With a competition show like this, you get one slip-up. And if it's a major one like mine was, it's endgame for you.
SK: Did you know your time on Face Off was up when you presented your gender-swap Shakespearean makeup?
RV: I kind of felt it. I'm willing to say it's one of the worst makeups I've probably ever done in my career. I wasn't too surprised, which might be a godsend to me because I'm glad to have been sent home on a makeup that I didn't like. I feel like it's justified. Yeah, I did a bad makeup. That's just how it happens.
SK: What went wrong with the makeup?
RV: Whew. That was a weird domino effect. A lot of it stemmed from — and not to put it off of myself — but my model did have a very, very masculine face. One of the mistakes that I made was going into the challenge before I had a model. I told myself that I wanted to do a multi-piece prosthetic. My goal was to do something that moved fluidly that wasn't like a one-piece face, which would have worked great if the model wasn't as masculine. But I didn't change my plans, and with the two days going stubbornly into it, I kept the same design. Moving forward from that, my sculpture was a little bit too thin. One of the problems with it being too thin is you get those wrinkles that caused her to look like an old lady. One of the weirdly hilarious things about the challenge was as we moved forward, she turned more and more into an old woman. I think a lot of what played into it is the wig I chose, which I find f***ing hilarious. Under the stage lights, the blond of the wig turned almost like a white. If you've ever seen the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons, if the challenge was to make her, I think I would've won.
SK: You actually studied at Tom Savini's makeup school. Did you ever get to work with him?
RV: He's actually a fantastic guy to work with. I worked loosely with him on a short film called Death Star. You know the cantina scene in Star Wars? It's kind of like a short film elaborated off of that. I worked with him on that. Other than that, I worked with him a lot in the school.
SK: What is it like attending a school like that with somebody who is so iconic in horror culture?
RV: It's kind of crazy. While you're there, you know that you are, but it doesn't quite set in the same way that it would to somebody looking in... It's a little bit afterward that every once in a while you remind yourself. I'm right out of the gate. I'm 22 years old. I'm at the beginning of my career and I've already worked with horror legends like Tom Savini. It's really a mind-blowing thing.
SK: Are there any films, TV shows or commercials where we may have seen your work before?
RV: I did a commercial for a comic book by Robert Tinnell called The Black Forest. The commercial included the Wolfman, Frankenstein and Nosferatu... As far as more professional work, I haven't gotten a lot of it. I'm hoping to keep moving on up.
SK: How did you become a contestant on Face Off?
RV: I had never actually applied before to be on Face Off. Do you remember Drew Talbot from Season 7? Drew Talbot is a good friend of mine, and I had just finished working on a haunted house. I didn't have a job lined up. Drew sent me a text message asking me if I had applied for this season. Then he called me and kind of bullied me into doing it. I'm really glad he did, because I had a lot of fun. I sent in my application video and got in.
SK: What is your day job? Is it all about making monsters and creatures, or do you work somewhere we might not expect?
RV: Currently I'm actually working for a haunted house in Long Island, which is more of a recent thing within the past two years. It's run by a theater, which I think is fantastic because they really play up the actual theme of the haunt. They hire actors from New York City. That's one of the great things about the haunt... actually having people that really wear your makeup well. Aside from that, I've done a lot of restaurant work.
SK: What is your favorite movie?
RV: That is a rough question [laughs]. That's one of the questions I always get and I never know how to answer it. I definitely have like a top 10 list. I say of all time, just off the top of my head, American Werewolf in London is definitely up there. I'm a huge fan of Rick Baker's work. Everything about it is so unique and original. I know it's such a stereotypical answer.
SK: Would you do the show again?
RV: Absolutely! I'd love to. Just not this challenge. Actually, wait, I would love to do this challenge over. I take that back.
SK: What would you do differently?
RV: I'd definitely take a step back and kind of analyze what I'm doing. One of the big problems with the show — not the show itself, but its contestants — [is] you get kind of tired and you don't take one step back to really analyze what you're doing. It's that one step back that can change everything.
SK: What was it like watching yourself back on TV?
RV: [Laughs] It's weird. It is definitely a really weird thing to do. I don't have the pleasure of watching it with just myself. Any goofy faces, any weird comments... I watched with my whole crew. The cameras know when to zoom in, I'll tell you that much [laughs].
SK: What did viewers not get to know about you?
RV: I'd like to say they didn't get to know that I'm a fun guy, but the last episode kind of showed that. I'm really glad they included a lot of the fun we were having in the lab. On that note, I'm happy that I went out on an episode that I was actually truly happy and having fun working [on], even if the result wasn't exactly what I wanted to be. I still had a lot of fun in that challenge.
SK: Do you have lifelong friends now as a result of the show?
RV: Oh God, yes! Oh yeah! I feel I definitely connected with just about everybody that was on the show with me. They are fantastic people. As you can see, my roommate on the show, Evan, is one of my good friends. Hopefully, I think it's within the next month, I should be working on a project with him in the city that I'm really excited about.
SK: Anything you can tease about future projects?
RV: Hopefully somewhere out in California [laughs].