News Column

Under the alien ; Tulsa native Heather Langenkamp talks about how she got a part in the new "Star Trek" film.

May 17, 2013

YellowBrix

By MICHAEL SMITH

Tulsa actress Heather Langenkamp makes an appearance in this summer's science-fiction blockbuster "Star Trek Into Darkness," opening in theaters this weekend - but you won't recognize her.

Don't look for the fresh-faced young woman who three decades ago originated the role of Nancy Thompson, the sole survivor of 1984's original "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

Instead of looking for someone, look for some thing.

Imagine a "Star Trek" alien that is "very green-looking and very frog-looking," Langenkamp said during a phone interview, chuckling.

She had to laugh: After all the time that her character spent running away screaming from the hideous Freddy Krueger in three of the famed horror films, "Star Trek" finally gave her a taste of what Robert Englund went through having his "Freddy" makeup applied.

To explain how Langenkamp ends up in J.J. Abrams' new "Star Trek" movie, it's important to know that Langenkamp has long enjoyed a second-act in her own Hollywood career.

For more than two decades, she's been married to David Leroy Anderson, a two-time Academy Award-winner for his makeup effects ("Men in Black," "The Nutty Professor"). For many years she has worked side-by-side with him at their AFX Studio in the Los Angeles area.

"Working on something like 'Star Trek' is such a huge production, with just armies of people making movies at the highest level we've ever seen, and for the special effects/makeup department, that meant meetings to discuss designs, and I'm at meetings to discuss scheduling, so David and I were dividing the labor," Langenkamp said.

"So it's David on the creative side, and I'm on the scheduling/ production side, and we try to work as a team in that manner. And that's with all of our makeups and creatures going on at the studio, and David on the set doing Spock's ears every morning, and that's a more than two-hour job.

"Zachary Quinto (the actor portraying Spock in the new "Star Trek" films) called and told David, 'I'd really feel good if you did this for me,' so David does it."

Langenkamp and her husband identified a makeup design of an alien - developed at AFX Studio by an artist friend of theirs, Moto Hata, who had died of cancer at 47 in 2009 - that they thought would work well in "Star Trek Into Darkness."

They approached Abrams, and he was intrigued by the design. But there was a condition as to who would portray this alien in the movie.

"The only hitch was that I had to play it" because it fit her head, Langenkamp said. "They had used my 'life cast' (a plaster cast of her head) to sculpt the design of it, basically because I was there in the studio at the time.

"Well, J.J. is such a big horror fan that he allowed me to play this very strange little alien."

Very strange in that the alien appears to have something of a frog's face at the bottom of a tall cranium that looks like an extended-size watermelon. The head appears to be growing out of a dark-red USS Enterprise uniform as the alien works a control panel in a scene in which Benedict Cumberbatch's villain is imprisoned in the Enterprise's brig.

It's a brief appearance with no dialogue for Moto - the name assigned to the character in the end credits, further honoring the AFX artist - "but I loved it that I'm in an Enterprise costume. That was so exciting to wear the V-neck and the shoes. Then it was great to watch them film with that IMAX camera, which is so giant and takes so many people to operate. The organization that it takes to make a movie like 'Star Trek' is amazing, intimidating and fascinating."

The Heather Langenkamp file

Born: 1964 in Tulsa

Local schools: Lee Elementary and Holland Hall School. (She also attended high school in Washington, D.C., when her father was a Department of Energy official during President Jimmy Carter's administration).

Family: Mother Mary Alice, an artist, and father Dobie Langenkamp, a petroleum attorney.

Film and TV career: Originated the role of Nancy Thompson in "A Nightmare on Elm Street," which she would again play in "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" in 1987 and "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" in 1994; played Marie Lubbock in the ABC sitcom "Just the Ten of Us," a spinoff of "Growing Pains," for 47 episodes between 1988-90.

Current film career: She and her husband, two-time Oscar-winning makeup designer David Leroy Anderson, own and operate AFX Studio in Panorama City, Calif., where makeup designs have been created for films including "Dawn of the Dead," "Cinderella Man," "The Cabin in the Woods" and "Star Trek Into Darkness."

Michael Smith 918-581-8479

michael.smith@tulsaworld.com

Originally published by MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer.

(c) 2013 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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