Style Watch

updated 03/09/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/09/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

WRINKLES IN TIME

Since facelifts are de rigueur among celebrities of a certain age, just about the only laugh lines left in Hollywood are the fake ones on view in the movies. With the current vogue for films that span generations, today's leading ladies and men are appearing onscreen as they probably never will in real life: looking old.

"Putting on the makeup didn't bother me because it was so far away from my own life," says The Prince of Tides' Kate Nelligan, 40. "It's when I have to look three years older that I go crazy." Nelligan was transformed into Nick Nolte's 70-year-old mother by makeup artist Manlio Rocchetti, who covered Nelligan's face with latex, then set it with a hair dryer. Muses Nelligan: "I don't know what will happen when I'm older. My mother died young, so I never experienced what I might look like someday."

Melanie Griffith, 34, has a beautiful 57-year-old mother to live up to: actress Tippi Hedren. When Griffith was aged to sixtysomething as Shining Through's Linda Voss, "everyone called her Tippi on the set," says makeup artist John Caglione Jr., who employed "little rubber pieces in the folds near her eyes and nose to make her face a little jowlier." Caglione says he got a positive review from Griffith's husband, actor Don Johnson: "He thought she looked cute."

Caglione, who is currently turning Robert Downey Jr., 26, into an octogenarian Charlie Chaplin for the upcoming film Charlie, also worked on For the Boys, aging Bette Midler, 47, and James Caan, 51, to an unusually puffy and mottled 85 and 93, respectively. "It took me five months of preparation, making prepainted rubber parts in advance," Caglione says. "There's a nursing home not far from my lab. I took impressions of old people's hands and used them as models for Bette Midler's rubber hands. Bette would beg for the hands even if they didn't show on-camera because they helped get her into the role."

Billy Crystal, 44, currently filming Mr. Saturday Night, also relied on makeup to ease into his role as Buddy Young Jr., a comic who ages to his early 70s. "Billy would go around in makeup and visit some of the other sets nearby, and people took it for granted he was this old guy," says makeup artist Peter Montagna, who covered Crystal's face, head and hands with latex.

Even as the younger Buddy, Crystal wears a prominent rubber nose so that he looks more like actor David Paymer, who plays his brother. Say, now that the reverse facelift is old hat in Hollywood, Crystal could be onto the next big special effect: the reverse nose job. Oy vay!

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