Zach Galifianakis portrays Beanie Babies creator Ty Warner in The Beanie Bubble, a look at the rise and fall of the brand based on a book (Picture: Apple)
Zach Galifianakis plays Ty Warner, the real-life founder of the 1990s (under)stuffed toy sensation Beanie Babies, in the new film The Beanie Bubble.
You know, those cute collectible animal souvenirs with a heart-shaped tag that we all thought would be worth a lot someday? Those are the ones.
Throughout the story, which follows Warner and his company, Ty, as the Beanie Baby bubble bursts, he interacts with three women who help him build his business from the ground up: co-founder Robbie (Elizabeth Banks), young tech whizz Maya (Geraldine Viswanathan), and partner Sheila (Sarah Snook).
It’s based on Zac Bissonnette’s 2015 book, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute, and features fictionalised versions of actual people.
Because of Warner’s reclusive and ‘controlling’ behaviours, as Galifianakis puts it, there wasn’t much around for him to utilise in his research for the role in terms of interviews and film, so The Hangover actor chose to build ‘an essence of him’ instead.
Warner, on the other hand, is renowned as someone who was preoccupied with his beauty and went under the knife to retain a young appearance.
Throughout The Beanie Bubble, Galifianakis, 53, shows off the spectacular and uncanny results of Warner’s facelifts on many occasions.
The actor and producer confessed that the make-up for this ‘damaged’ his performance since he found it ‘distracting,’ but he praised make-up artists Tarra Day and Scott Wheeler for designing and achieving the look for him.
‘What they would do is tape my skin and insert anchors into it, then pull it up and tie it off at the base of my neck. ‘It made me appear two months younger,’ Galifianakis joked of the fairly grim-sounding process ahead of the Sag-Aftra strike.
‘No, it really did have a huge effect. I am anti-plastic surgery but after seeing my face like that, I thought “Oh, I see why people do this!”’ he added.
Delving into the basic but very effective method, he continued: ‘Once you get used to it, you get used to it, but there’s this pulling back – and I have, I guess, pretty loose skin – so they would just pull it back, it was as crude as that!
‘But they did a very artistic, great job at it. I mean, I could see the affects right when it was happening. So, it was a couple of hours in the make-up chair on the ‘tighter’ Ty days, but it wasn’t too bad.’
Discussing how he shaped his interpretation of the rather eccentric billionaire Warner, who still owns and operates Ty – alongside the Four Seasons Hotel in New York – he explained: ‘You would think I would be able to draw on Ty alone, however there’s not a lot of reported interviews with him – he only wanted to be interviewed by certain people. He was very controlling with that.
‘So, I had to kind of invent what I thought could be an essence of him and I really was just going for an essence of a person, and I wasn’t going for being a mimic, as I’m not really a mimic – and even if there were things to watch and mimic, I don’t know how much of that I could have done to copy him.
‘It’s more the essence of a person, especially a person in that ‘90s business world where women often took a backseat and greed and ego tend to take over a lot of [the time] – especially [with] men – and that, to me, is an unspoken-ness [sic] that we’re now starting to untap culturally.’
‘Those were the things I could draw on that were concrete and other than that, it was my imagination and the directors’ imagination,’ the Due Date star added.
Galifianakis was particularly fascinated in the historical period when he chose to take on the role, which is bit of a change from his normal larger comedic flicks.
‘In the ‘90s, things were really starting to rev up, capitalistically speaking, in the States,’ he chuckled.
He also understands that it is not always what his audience expects from him.
‘For me, somebody that usually plays goofier characters, it was [also] different enough for me to try and see if I could pull it off, it was a different enough character that I haven’t played. Selfishly, I think that’s why I wanted to do it.
‘Also, I knew the directors [Kristin Gore and Damian Kulash], they’re friends. I read the book and I thought there was a real story here.
‘So, several elements come together before you decide whether or not you can do it or not – and by the way, I don’t even know if I did pull it off, it was a tricky character!’
The Beanie Bubble releases on Apple TV Plus and in cinemas on Friday, July 28.