These Celebrity Portraits Are Fake. Sort of
This photograph appears to be a portrait of Britney Spears, but it’s actually a picture of her Madame Tussauds wax model.
Photographer Peter Lusztyk shot his celebrity “portraits,” like this one of Pierce Brosnan, at the Madame Tussauds locations in Las Vegas and Washington, DC.
The Madame Tussauds in Washington, DC debuted this wax model of President Trump last year.
Lusztyk built a portable studio inside Madame Tussauds to capture images such as this wax model of Snoop Dogg.
Lusztyk placed a white backdrop behind each wax model, like this one of wrestling star Stone Cold Steve Austin, to make them appear to have been shot in a studio.
The camera was positioned directly in the line of sight of each wax model, like this one of Bruce Willis, so they appear to be looking directly at the viewer.
Photographing wax models such as this Justin Bieber doppelgänger has the paradoxical effect of making them seem more lifelike.
Lusztyk is fascinated by the fact people can recognize celebrities like Mike Tyson without ever having met them.
This photograph of Zach Galifianakis’ wax model was prominently displayed in Lusztyk’s hometown of Toronto, where most people assumed it was the genuine article.
The title of the series, “The Uncanny Valley Portraits,” is a reference to the idea that human simulations that are too realistic—like this wax model of Sandra Bullock—make viewers uneasy.
Lusztyk shot his Madame Tussauds photographs, such as this image of Larry King’s wax model, in the morning before the museum opened to the public.
Lusztyk learned that every morning at Madame Tussauds, makeup artists give each of the wax models a touch-up, including this simulacrum of Evel Knievel.
Madame Tussauds designers went to Stephen Colbert’s Comedy Central studio in 2012 to take measurements for this wax effigy.
The Madame Tussauds in Washington, DC focuses on political figures such as Nancy Reagan.
Many viewers believe they’re looking at the real person rather than a wax model like this one of Fidel Castro, Lusztyk says. “Once people realize what they’re looking at, there is this sort of revulsion.”