Industry Seminar Series: Gary Archer

As part of our Industry Seminar Series, CMS recently hosted renowned Hollywood dental prosthetics technician Gary Archer. With 130 IMDB credits to his name, Archer has almost certainly had a hand in some of your favorite movie and television experiences. 

Imagine:  

You’ve waited months for a big new fantasy series to drop. On release day, you order in some food and barricade yourself in your secluded streaming sanctuary. It grips you from the very start. The main character, a grizzled warrior raised in rough-and-tumble woodland settlement and trained to defend himself across the harshest terrains, takes you on an unforgettable journey. Following a days-long pursuit through the wilderness, never having even a moment to think about personal care, the warrior meets his in enemy in a climactic clash. Punches are thrown. Weapons strike faces. Bones shatter. The styrofoam container that once housed your pad thai is now clutched tightly to your chest as you search for anything to ease the tension. And finally, your hero triumphsYou start celebrating, but the moment takes a turn as he flashes a victorious smile – revealing a sparkling set of perfectly straight, pearly white teeth, the likes of which you’d only find in the waiting room of a Beverly Hills orthodontist’s office. You don’t see a grizzled hero anymore, you see an actor. And your viewing experience suffers for it. 

Clearly the production team for your fantasy series never met Gary Archer. Archer has been a dental technician for 37 years, 28 of which he’s spent creating prosthetics for film and television. Over those few decades, he’s expertly honed his art: crafting hyper-realistic sets of false teeth to enhance the believability of key characters. 

During his seminar with CMS students and alumni, Archer broke down some keys to creating a reliable prosthetic. Chief among them was to ensure that a performer can speak, annunciate, and act without being inhibited by the teeth – so much so that they might forget they’re wearing a false set. He even recalled a noteworthy experience working with Sir Anthony Hopkins on Nixon: 

In the morning he’d put his teeth in, and he’d completely forget about them – because they became part of him. Then he’d go off to lunch and wouldn’t take his teeth out. And he’d come back and I’d get a phone call in that wonderful accent: “Hello Gary, I’m terribly sorry but I’ve broken another set of the teeth. Can you make me another?” And I’m like, “No problem.” At that time we’d made something like five or six sets.

Other stories included designing the famous tooth-extraction-via-ice-skate effect for Tom Hanks in Cast Away and meeting a Scottish bartender who inspired Mike Myers’s teeth for the Austin Powers series. 

Aside from various technical tips and industry anecdotes, Archer encouraged those in attendance to know their worth as artists. High quality dental prosthetics and other specialized skills are difficult to find in the industry, and artists shouldn’t let themselves be denied fair compensation. 

You can view the seminar here. 

Check out Gary Archer’s stunning resume here.