Movies have always been important to Chris, from the cinematic heros of his childhood, who would later influence his artwork, to his involvement with Hollywood and particularly the popular Willow and the King Arthur movie.
Chris’s first professional contact with cinema came with the book covers he produced in the 70s on the fabulous spagetti western directed by Sergio Leone, featuring Clint Eastwood, and in 1984 the covers of a reissued series of twelve Startrek books; later with the promotional artwork he was producing for the films themselves.
His first major commission in the film industry was for the 1980 animated adult fantasy film Heavy Metal, which has become a cult movie today. He painted the promotional poster for the film but also designed the look of the iconic character Taarna and her faithful winged steed. This famous image can still be seen on the cover of the current DVD and video releases of the film. In 1996, Chris was commissioned to produce a new wraparound cover painting for Heavy Metal magazine, depicting Taarna, the celebrated heroine that he had designed some fifteen years earlier.
In the mid eighties, George Lucas was producing a new fantasy film Willow, to be directed by Ron Howard. George Lucas had seen Chris’s work and especially liked the attention to detail found on the costumes. Chris was hired to design the costumes and to develop the look of the lead characters:
I was originally asked to focus on the main two characters, but was soon working on most of the others as well.
Chris found both his work and his relationship with Ron Howard a real joy. Willow was released in May 1988 to box office disappointment and mixed reviews from critics, but received two Academy Award nominations and cult film recognition.
More recently, Chris has been working as visual consultant for the director Antoine Fuqua on King Arthur.
I was brought in relatively late on the pre-production. My first meeting was with Antoine in London. We talked about the film’s plot and the general look Antoine had in mind. Our discussions lasted for hours, covering the Roman occupation of Britain, the Celts, the Saxons and the Druids as well as the Arthurian legends.
Following this meeting, Chris was asked to visualise the Celts, or Woads as they were referred to in the script. His drawings were for Antoine’s comment and approval. He was also asked to design the famous sword Excalibur.
Working with Antoine on King Arthur will always be a fond memory for me and was also an invaluable professional experience.
In 2007, Chris designed another Excalibur for The Last Legion produced by Dino de Laurentiis and directed by Doug Lefler.