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(written from a Production point of view)
Atherton started to work as special makeup effects artist on films such as the horror film Maniac Cop (1988, with Bradley Look), the thriller Slipping Into Darkness (1988), the comedy Little Monsters (1989, with Gil Mosko and Jill Rockow), the horror thriller Shocker (1989, with David LeRoy Anderson), the thriller After Midnight (1989), the horror film Demon Wind (1990, with David LeRoy Anderson and Mark Garbarino), the horror drama Ain't No Way Back (1990), the television series The Flash and Captain Power, and the Academy Award winning drama Dances with Wolves (1990, with Francisco X. Pérez).
He worked as makeup department head on the action drama Toy Soldiers (1991, starring Wil Wheaton), the crime thriller Thunderheart (1992), the western Silent Tongue (1993), the western Tombstone (1993), the adventure Iron Will (1994), the television drama Take Me Home Again (1994), and received for the television drama The Last of His Tribe a CableACE Award nomination in the category Best Makeup in 1993.
In 1998, Atherton shared a Saturn Award nomination in the category Best Makeup with Kevin Yagher for their work on the action thriller Face/Off. Atherton's further projects include credits as personal makeup and hair stylist for actors Val Kilmer and Steven Seagal. Among his credits are the television series Dead Man's Walk (1996, starring F. Murray Abraham and Keith Carradine) and Seven Days (1998, starring Norman Lloyd and Alan Scarfe), the thriller The Patriot (1998, with Mary L. Mastro), the action film Exit Wounds (2001), the crime comedy Stealing Harvard (2002, with Mary L. Mastro and Sheryl Blum), the crime thriller Half Past Dead (2002), the thriller The Foreigner (2003), the action film A Man Apart (2003, with Gil Mosko), the drama The New World (2005), the thriller Mercenary for Justice (2006), the action drama Conspiracy (2008), the crime thriller Columbus Day (2008), the horror film Against the Dark (2009), the science fiction thriller The Thaw (2009, with Joe Colwell), the crime comedy Flypaper (2011, starring Ashley Judd), the science fiction sequel Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012), the fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013, with Richard Alonzo, Ken Diaz, Steve LaPorte, Bart Mixon, Cristina Patterson Ceret, Joe Podnar, Craig Reardon, Don Rutherford, and Joy Zapata), and the comic adaptation The Lone Ranger (2013).
More recently, he worked as makeup department head on the western The Homesman (2014, with Clinton Wayne) and the action thriller The Rogue (2015) and as makeup artist on the television series Big Time in Hollywood, FL (2015).