I was wandering through the local Sears and Roebuck the other day, and their electronics department happened to have the movie **Spider-Man 2 ** playing on their collection of insanely large widescreen plasma TVs. Pausing to watch the scene in which a surly, inebriated Harry Osborn (James Franco) confronts Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), I noticed how convincingly bloodshot the actor’s eyes appeared. It’s probably not the sort of detail that Sears counts on to sell their product, but James Franco’s swollen, inflamed eyeball veins were remarkably visible in wall-sized HDTV format.
Having grown up in Pittsburgh during the 1980’s, I’ve had the opportunity to observe many, many people in extreme stages of drunkenness and depression. I was frankly impressed by the movie’s versimilitude at simulating this effect, and I’m curious about how it could have been accomplished. (I’m giving Mr. Franco the benefit of the doubt here, and presuming that he did not in fact hammer down a row of boilermakers in preparation for the scene.) Was the actor fitted with scleral shells? Was the bloodshot appearance added with CGI? Is there some type of cosmetic eyedrops that can be used to create a reddened effect, or did they just squirt lemon juice in his eyes? I seem to recall hearing that in days of yore, actors playing drunk or emotional scenes would achieve a realistically bloodshot appearance by having a stagehand blow cigarette smoke into their eyes before filming, but I doubt that this technique is still in use these days.
I suppose it’s a bit weird that in a movie with so many elaborate special effects, I’d manage to focus on such a trivial bit of makeup artistry, but I’ve really been wondering about this. I worry about strange things sometimes.