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Joel Harlow (born 15 February 1968; age 53) is an Emmy Award-winning special effects and prosthetic makeup artist and sculptor. Harlow and his team at Harlow FX designed and constructed two prosthetic figures of Porthos for use in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "A Night in Sickbay": one to be suspended in the super-hydration chamber and one to be resting within the quarantine box. [1]

Harlow was the prosthetic makeup supervisor on 2009's Star Trek, for which he designed Vulcan, Romulan, and Klingon prosthetics [2] and was also responsible for Leonard Nimoy's make-up. [3] Harlow has received an Academy Award for his work on Star Trek, which he shares with Makeup Department Head Mindy Hall and Prosthetic Makeup Designer Barney Burman. The three also received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Make-Up for Star Trek and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award nomination.

Most recently, Harlow has been working as the Makeup Department Head and Prosthetic Designer on the 2016 sequel Star Trek Beyond, helmed by Justin Lin. [4] He was nominated, with Richard Alonzo, for an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling on this film in 2017. He also appears with his wife Cindy Harlow as a Vulcan couple at Yorktown. [5]

Life and career

Harlow was born in Grand Folks, North Dakota. He attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, New York, during which time he began working on low-budget productions, including two of the cult Toxic Avenger films.


In the early 1990s, Harlow began doing makeup effects work higher-profile films, including The Sandlot, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, and Lord of Illusions, the latter of which starred Scott Bakula, Famke Janssen, Joel Swetow, and Vincent Schiavelli. Harlow subsequently worked on such genre films as Anaconda, Virus, and the infamously panned Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000. Veteran Star Trek makeup effects artist Jake Garber – with whom Harlow previously worked on 1992's The Bodyguard and the 1995 films Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie and Automatic – supervised the prosthetics on Battlefield Earth.

A member of IATSE Local 706, Harlow worked under the supervision of Rick Baker on Ron Howard's adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (featuring Clint Howard) and Tim Burton's remake of Planet of the Apes (starring Erick Avari, Cary-Hiroyuki and David Warner). These films marked the first two times Harlow worked with Star Trek's Prosthetic Makeup Designer, Barney Burman. Harlow then worked under Star Trek: The Motion Picture makeup artist Ve Neill on Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intellignece. He also provided uncredited makeup effects for films like Magnolia, Bicentennial Man, and X-Men (the latter starring Patrick Stewart and Famke Janssen and directed by Bryan Singer).

Harlow's first project as makeup department head was the 2002 film Adaptation, which featured Jim Beaver and Gregory Itzin in the cast. He then became a key makeup artist on all three of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean films with Ve Neill (and all starring Lee Arenberg) and was the prosthetic makeup designer for the last two films of the trilogy. He was recognized by the Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild for his work on the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, while his makeup effects for Dead Man's Chest received a Saturn Award nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. He was also the makeup department head on the 2011 science fiction thriller Battle Los Angeles and on the 2011 comic adaptation Green Lantern.

Harlow's other film makeup credits include the two sequels to The Matrix (both featuring Anthony Zerbe), Auto Focus, The Chronicles of Riddick (starring Karl Urban), Constantine, Domino (which featured cinematography by Dan Mindel), Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, National Treasure: Book of Secrets (featuring Bruce Greenwood), and Angels & Demons. He also did prosthetics work on Charlie Wilson's War (starring Rachel Nichols) and prosthetic sculpting for The Soloist (featuring Stephen Root).

Harlow has been working as the makeup artist for acclaimed actor Johnny Depp, transforming Depp into the character of The Madhatter in Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland. Harlow was also Depp's makeup artist on the drama The Rum Diary (which co-stars Karen Austin, Aaron Lustig, and Bill Smitrovich), the 2011 thriller The Tourist, the fantasy sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), the horror comedy Dark Shadows (2012), the comic adaptation The Lone Ranger (2013) for which he received his second Academy Award nomination in the category Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling in 2014, shared with Gloria Pasqua Casny, the science fiction drama Transcendence (2014), and the horror comedy Tusk (2014).

More recent work includes makeup design for Johnny Depp on the fantasy film Into the Woods (2014, with Chris Pine), the action comedy Mortdecai (2015), and the fantasy sequel Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass (2016), makeup design on the drama Black Mass (2015, with Adam Scott), and as makeup department head on the sport drama Sweetwater (2015).


Harlow won two Emmy Awards for his work on two different television mini-series based on Stephen King novels, 1994's The Stand and 1997's The Shining. He shared the first award with was DS9 makeup artist Camille Calvet, while the second Emmy was shared with Star Trek alumni Joe Colwell, Barry Koper, Ve Neill, and Jill Rockow. Harlow later worked with Ve Neill on numerous film productions.

In 2000, Harlow began working on the hit television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He created Harlow FX to handle effects work on Buffy in 2001, although the company has since been assigned to other projects such as Spielberg's remake of War of the Worlds and the HBO series Carnivàle. In 2002, Harlow received an Emmy nomination for his work on the Buffy episode "Hell's Bells." Three years later, he received another Emmy nomination for an episode of Carnivàle. Harlow has also worked on such television programs as the hit FOX series House (starring Jennifer Morrison) and the acclaimed AMC series Mad Men.

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