In his 1994 movie The Shadow uses his psychic abilities to somehow alter his face to look like another person as part of his disguise. I've often wondered how this was actually done in the movie.

It is only shown rather scarcely and often only behind the rest of his mask/scarf. Though, I think at the end there's a scene where he transforms live between the faces using some blending effect. It might just have been make-up, but it always looked like a completely different person to me, with much more prominent features, yet on IMDb there is no other actor credited for playing The Shadow. Or maybe it was CGI, but while not entirely unknown in 1994, I'm not sure how capable or widely used CGI was for such stuff back then.

So is there any official information (or at least well-reasoned speculation) how they achieved The Shadow's "alternate face"?

  • Just watched this. I know its alec but he actually has a stronger resemblance to his brother william with the make up. I actually thought maybe they used him when I first noticed.
    – Rone
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 22:38

4 Answers 4


I'm not sure how capable or widely used CGI was for such stuff back then.

Here is a compiled list of movies around and before 90s' using FX and CGI.

This list does not have The Shadow so definitely use of CGI can be ruled out and diretor Russell Mulcahy mentioned using FX.

Mulcahy said, “There are a lot of FX in this film, but it’s not a FX film. It’s a character/story-driven film. The FX are part of the story.”

As you mentioned:

It might just have been make-up, but it always looked like a completely different person to me, with much more prominent features.

For eyes solid black Mylar lenses were used.

Mr. Baldwin said, "It was like wearing dark, dense lenses that I could barely see out of." When he was wearing the lenses, others had to lead him around the set because, he said, he was "half-blind."


In this criticism author talked about combination of makeup and morphing effect.

Lone and Baldwin’s voices dancing around each other as they banter; faces being transformed by a combination of makeup and morphing effects;

Speculation based on Michael Jackson's 1991 song Black or White.

An Oral History of Morphing in Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ suggests that morphing was prevalent in special effects industry.

Image progression from morphing sequence.

  • 1
    Well, that certainly clarifies that it was Baldwin to begin with at least.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 16:51
  • @NapoleonWilson: Also added a source of speculation. Credible articles are hard to find unless some expert looks back and reviews it.
    – Rahul
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 17:33
  • 1
    Well, It's a nice answer answer for sure.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 17:37

It's been a while since I saw the movie, but I always asumed it was make up and the transformation of the face was CGI, using the morphing effect introduced in Terminator 2... but it just my speculation, I have no real facts

  • 3
    We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.
    – Panther
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 6:59
  • The Shadow if definitely Alec Baldwin with a glued-on nose and eyebrows and color contact lenses. It's been some time since I've seen the movie as well, but I can say that for certain. I'm also pretty sure the transitions were done with computer morphing, which was an effect created for Willow, not T2. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 16:47

This Scene was made using morphing. Usually made with cross-fading and later (for the last 30 years) computers (not CGI).

The first movie that used both this techniques was Willow made by Industrial Light & Magic. Later, the same studio was hired to made morphing in Michael Jackson video "Black & white".

But in the scene when Shadow morph in the taxi for the first time I think it's only makeup and montage.


They didn't have the technology to do facial substitution with CGI in 1994.

One of the first box office attempts at facial substitutions was in the surf movie, The Blue Crush, in 2002, to paste Kate Bosworth's face on a stuntwoman doing the surfing. The results were still quite poor in 2002.

So, the special effects in The Shadow were done with prosthetics and makeup.

  • 2
    Jurassic Park (1993) did a facial substitution. Ariana Richards' face was superimposed onto that of a stunt woman. To quote the actress: 'That was actually a landmark moment for film special effects. It was the first time that something like that had been done.'
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 9:16
  • I'm surprised to hear that given the results in Blue Crush were not particularly good, and that was 9 years after Jurassic Park. Do you know which scene had facial substitution? Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 9:36
  • 1
    Titanic did facial substitution in 1997, the bit where there's running through corridors with water chasing them.
    – Chopper3
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 10:04
  • @Jeff-InventorChromeOS - Klick on the second link I provided. In the interview Ariana Richards describes the scene.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 18:45

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