Meet Matthew Mungle, Creator of Hollywood’s Prosthetic Privates

The Overnight
In 'The Overnight,' Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman drop trou', with some help from prosthetics specialist Matthew Mungle. The Overnight

There’s a buzzed-about scene in the upcoming comedy The Overnight, in which—minor spoiler alert—characters played by Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman drop trou’ and dance naked by a pool. It’s a turning point for Scott’s character, Alex, who had been embarrassed about his penis size. It’s “tiny,” he says, compared to the one on Schwartzman’s character, which he calls a “giant goddam horse” penis.

The Overnight premiered at Sundance earlier this year and will hit theaters on June 19. As is often the case with projects from executive producers Jay and Mark Duplass, the plot involves aging young couples who want to experiment. Scott’s Alex and Emily, played by Taylor Schilling, go to a friend’s house for dinner. The night progresses and penises make an appearance.

Viewers can thank Matthew Mungle for the film’s poolside reveal. An Oscar and Emmy award–winning makeup artist, Mungle has become the go-to specialist for outfitting Hollywood’s members with faux members. And as comedies go to greater lengths to push boundaries and win laughs, the pretend-penis business is thriving.

“I think it started probably about five or six years ago,” says Mungle, 58. “People are trying to get that comedy factor in film. I think they’re just pushing the limits.” He keeps five or so penises on hand at his North Hollywood workshop. Each is worth about $1,000, he says, or he’ll make one custom for $5,000. His man-made manhoods have appeared in comedies such as Wanderlust, Get Hard, Step Brothers (testicles only) and Little Britain USA, as well as HBO's comedy-drama Looking, about gay men in San Francisco. His handiwork will appear in an upcoming comedy too, he says, though he’s sworn to secrecy.

Matthew Mungle Makeup artist Matthew Mungle has created prosthetic penises for some of Hollywood's funniest comedies in recent years. Matthew Mungle

Mungle finds it amusing that after some 200 film, television and stage credits, this line of work could end up being his legacy. Growing up on a dairy farm in Oklahoma, Mungle fell in love with horror movies such as Creature From the Black Lagoon and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. Working from the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, he’d practice applying stage makeup on himself and his sister. “Nobody else would sit for me,” he says. Later, in college, he majored in theater, and then moved to California and studied at Joe Blasco Makeup Artist Training Centers.

He worked his way up in Hollywood and, in the late 1980s, formed W.M. Creations, Inc. with a partner. Their facilities total 7,000 square feet, in which he and a team of artists use one space to make the prosthetics and another to store them. Hundreds of decapitated heads and other body parts line the walls. “I can’t even guestimate how many we have,” he says.

When filmmakers call to request genitals, Mungle says, the process starts with looking at pictures. Sometimes, those are adult pictures, he says. He and artists Koji Ohmura and Aurelio Guzman discuss with the filmmakers how the prosthetic should look, how big or small it should be, whether testicles should be made and whether the part should be flaccid or erect, circumcised or uncircumcised. “Sometimes when they call us, they’re like, very shy about it. I delve right into it,” he says. He uses foam latex or silicon, and for erect parts, adds wiring. If covered by underwear, Mungle sews the prosthetic into a band that goes in the costume. For full frontal, he glues hair on the top of the prosthetic, which is then glued on to “the shaved area of the actor’s crotch.” A supporting piece goes in between the buttocks and is glued to the top of the buttocks. “It’s very technical, you know,” he says.

Related: Hollywood’s Hot and Heavy Love Affair With the Penis (Fake or Otherwise)

“He was recommended as ‘the best in the biz’ at the particular niche,” Wanderlust director David Wain says by email. “​I believe we said we wanted it to look ‘nice sized’ without being cartoonishly or unrealistically large…. ​He showed us the penis and we examined it, really got a feel for it. Then he worked with [actor] Joe Lo Truglio to make sure it fit right, wasn't too uncomfortable and looked convincing.” Wain recommended Mungle to The Overnight filmmakers.

Male full frontal nudity in comedies isn’t new—There’s Something About Mary featured it nearly 20 years ago. But the floodgates seem to have opened in recent years, with memorable scenes in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Borat, The Hangover Part II, We're the Millers (link NSFW), Unfinished Business and American Reunion, to name a few. For some of those, the actors went au naturale. But using a prosthetic isn't always about the actor's comfort level; in movies such as The Overnight, the look of the prosthetics are critical to the narrative. 

“In the case of Wanderlust, nudity was an intrinsic part of the story and the world, and most of the characters were naked at point or another,” Wain says. (The film takes place on a free-spirited commune.)

Scott, Schilling and Schwartzman From left, Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman star in 'The Overnight.' The Overnight

For The Overnight, Scott and Schwartzman seem to have been pleased with their prosthetics. “My wife and I helped produce the movie, and so we kind of got to see the early images of the prosthetics,” Scott told Newsweek earlier this year. “There was a lot of debate: The big one should be bigger and the small one should be smaller, and I feel like we got this—kind of the perfect place with both of them.” (It wasn’t Scott’s first role that required wearing such a part.)

He and Schwartzman described filming the naked scene as fun and “weirdly comfortable.” “I’m the guy who will not take his shirt off at a party. And my wife walked on-set and was like, Who is this guy? Is that my husband? Prancing around like a little pony? I was just so extremely naked in front of all these people. But it was not scary anymore,” Schwartzman told Newsweek.

The film has an R rating for “strong sexuality, graphic nudity, language and drug use.”

“With all film rating, context matters tremendously,” Kate Bedingfield of the Motion Picture Association of America says by email. “Prosthetic versus real generally does not, though.” Bedingfield declined to comment on the rating decisions for any particular film.

“Work is work. As long as they sign the check it’s fine,” Mungle says, laughing. “It’s a vast artistic profession and anything that pays the bills is great, basically.”