Whether you’ve seen a trailer for the newly released Queen Biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, or you were front row in the theater opening night you really can’t miss the peculiar set of chompers sported by actor Rami Malek in the film’s starring role.
Unless you are a die-hard Queen fan you might not be aware that Freddy Mercury had a prominent overbite due to having four extra teeth (it’s even claimed this helped his masterful singing ability). To capture this signature look as closely as possible in Bohemian Rhapsody the film crew brought in Chris Lyons, a man famed for his work creating sets of teeth for dozens of films.
Lyons, who owns the British company Fangs FX that focuses entirely in specialized character teeth and facial effects, has become the go-to artist for films whose characters have a signature smile. And while his work is often secondary to other character features, in this particular film his teeth have a starring role.
In fact, correctly portraying the look of Freddy Mercury’s teeth in the film was so important that Lyons created multiple sets until they found a nearly exact match for Mercury’s famous overbite.
Each set of teeth Lyons creates are handmade in layers of dental acrylic to ensure the shape, size and colors match the exact look of the character he’s creating them for. This way they are all unique and unable to be easily replicated.
For this character in particular he made the teeth oversized and slightly “buck” so that they would push out Malek’s upper lip, making him work to hide the teeth as Mercury tried to hide his. And despite looking convincingly like Malek’s own teeth Lyons ensured they simply clipped on and off both for ease and to avoid impairing Malek’s speech.
All in the name of character authenticity.
But for Lyons this is just another role in a long list of characters he’s contributed his unique talents to and the variety in the teeth he creates keeps things interesting. He’s created fangs an inch thick, full sets of gold teeth, and also worked with dental professionals to replicate the look of badly damaged or decayed teeth. Whatever the role calls for he tackles it with gusto.
Aside from Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody Lyons has created teeth for Meryl Streep in Into the Woods, a variety of characters in the latest Star Wars films, Tim Roth in Youth Without Youth (that particular set of teeth took him two months to create!), and for Tilda Swinton in many of her starring roles. But these are just select highlights among a list of credited and uncredited roles spanning his decades-long career.
If you’ve seen any of the films featuring Lyons’ work let us know in the comments.
Clockwise from top left: 20th Century Fox; Peter Mountain/Walt Disney Pictures; Sony Pictures Classics; Weinstein Company