The last few years have featured some of the best prosthetics work in TV history, from King Viserys Targaryen decaying before our eyes on House of the Dragon to the disgusting fungal clickers in The Last of Us. Married prosthetics duo Barrie and Sarah Gower are the dream team behind many of the most memorable prosthetics you’ve seen during this time!
Barrie and Sarah have five Emmy wins and 14 Emmy nominations between them. Their elite résumé includes the Night King and numerous other characters on Game of Thrones, Vecna in Stranger Things, work on Chernobyl, and much more.
The husband-wife duo had worked on numerous projects before getting their big break on Game of Thrones, which put them on the radar of every studio in the industry. “I was self-employed as a freelancer and spent 10 years working on the ‘Harry Potter’ films and for various other prosthetics designers,” Barrie told TheWrap. “We got offered ‘Game of Thrones’ — the third season hadn’t quite aired yet, and that was our biggest project together as a couple. Every year we finished ‘Thrones,’ we were like, ‘Well, it can’t get any bigger than this.’”
Turns out Thrones was just getting warmed up. Up next was The Last of Us. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the majority of the population has succumbed to a fungal infection that turns them into monsters, it posed an altogether different challenge. Quoth Barrie:
After a couple of months of concept work with (‘Last of Us’ game designer) Naughty Dog, we started doing all our pre-prep, testing various stages of the Infected makeup. I think we had about five different stages in total, from very subtle, raised three-dimensional vein prosthetics to more tumorous growths. It started to get more extensive by the fifth stage of infection, seeing the Clicker characters with this sort of full plumage and fungal shapes breaking at the head.
How to work of House of the Dragon while maintaining a healthy marriage
As for the Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon, the idea of gradually aging King Viserys and making him weaker and more decrepit with every passing episode only came to Barrie after reading through the scripts. “Whenever we get scripts, Barrie goes through and picks the makeup and characters he really wants to do,” Sarah explained.
“That’s how I think we make it work,” Barrie said (he’s about to refer to himself in the third person, so brace yourself). “The advantage we have as a couple is that productions hire Barrie for his artistry and not for his spreadsheets, so he’s able to sculpt for key cast and key makeups. And then I keep the rest of everything ticking along. Sarah is incredibly good at organizing and very good with facts and figures and logistics.”
We’re married, we see each other every single minute of the day. And I think it’s testament to a really good partnership that we haven’t killed each other yet.
With House of the Dragon season 2 currently in production and The Last of Us season 2 officially on the way, Sarah and Barry no doubt have a busy schedule ahead. Clearly there’s no duo better suited to the job!