Stan Winston was an American visual effects supervisor, makeup artist, and film director. He was best known for his work in the Terminator series, the Jurassic Park series, Aliens, the Predator series, Iron Man, Edward Scissorhands, Avatar and Endhiran. He won four Academy Awards for his work.
Winston, a frequent collaborator with director James Cameron, owned several effects studios, including Stan Winston Digital. The established areas of expertise for Winston were in makeup, puppets and practical effects, but he had recently expanded his studio to encompass digital effects as well.
Alien franchise credit
- The Thing (1982)
- The Terminator (1984)
- Aliens (1986)
- Predator (1987)
- Edward Scissorhands (1990)
- Jurrasic Park (1993)
- Congo (1995)
- The Relic (1997)
- Zathura (2005)
- Iron Man (2008)
Stan Winston was born on April 7, 1946, in Arlington, Virginia, where he graduated from Washington-Lee High School in 1964. He studied painting and sculpture at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from which he graduated in 1968. In 1969, after attending California State University, Long Beach, Winston moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor. Struggling to find an acting job, he began a makeup apprenticeship at Walt Disney Studios.
In 1972, Winston established his own company, Stan Winston Studio, and won an Emmy Award for his effects work on the telefilm Gargoyles. Over the next seven years, Winston continued to receive Emmy nominations for work on projects and won another for 1974's The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Winston also created the Wookiee costumes for the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.
In 1982, Winston received his first Oscar nomination for Heartbeeps, by which time he had set up his own studio. However, his ground-breaking work with Rob Bottin on the science fiction horror classic The Thing that year brought him to prominence in Hollywood. Between then, he contributed some visual effects to Friday the 13th Part III, in which he made a slightly different head sculpt of Jason in an unused ending.
In 1983, Winston designed the Mr. Roboto facemask for the American rock group Styx.
In 1983 he also worked on a short-lived TV series Manimal, for which he created the panther and hawk transformation effects.
Winston reached a new level of fame in 1984 when James Cameron's The Terminator premiered. The movie was a surprise hit, and Winston's work in bringing the titular metallic killing machine to life led to many new projects and additional collaborations with Cameron. In fact, Winston won his first Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 1986 on James Cameron's next movie, Aliens.
Over the next few years, Winston and his company received more accolades for its work on many more Hollywood films, including Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, John McTiernan's Predator, Alien Nation, The Monster Squad, and Predator 2. In 1988, Winston made his directorial debut with the horror movie Pumpkinhead, and won Best First Time Director at the Paris Film Festival. His next directing project was the child-friendly A Gnome Named Gnorm, starring Anthony Michael Hall.
James Cameron drafted Winston and his team once again in 1990, this time for the groundbreaking Terminator 2: Judgment Day. T2 premiered in the summer of 1991, and Winston's work on this box office hit won him two more Oscars for Best Makeup Effects and Best Visual Effects.
In 1992, he was nominated with yet another Tim Burton film, this time for Burton's superhero sequel, Batman Returns, where his effects on Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and in delivering Burton's general vision for what was an increasingly Gothic Gotham City earned him more recognition for his work ethic and loyalty to what was an intrinsic ability to bring different directors' ideas to life. It was particularly poignant because for Batman Returns, Winston had to follow on from Anton Furst's earlier work, and recreate change according to what Burton wanted to do differently the next time around.
Winston turned his attention from super villains and cyborgs to dinosaurs when Steven Spielberg enlisted his help to bring Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park to the cinema screen. In 1993, the movie became a blockbuster and Winston won another Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
Stan Winston died on June 15, 2008, in Malibu, California after suffering for seven years from multiple myeloma. A spokeswoman reported that he "died peacefully at home surrounded by family." Winston was with his wife and two children, actor Matt Winston and Debbie Winston. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a public speech about his death, and Jon Favreau dedicated his Spike TV Scream Award to him upon receiving the award for Best Sci-Fi Movie for Iron Man. Terminator Salvation starts and ends the credits with a dedication to him. His special effects still lives on through his studio Stan Winston Studios, now renamed Legacy Effects, continuing to work on films after his death such as Pandorum, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Avatar, Enthiran and Shutter Island thus continuing his legacy.