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3 Oscar-Nommed Makeup and Hairstyling Teams Spill Their Secrets

3 Oscar-Nommed Makeup and Hairstyling Teams Spill Their Secrets

The smart money’s on Tilda Swinton’s 80-year-old Madame D. from The Grand Budapest Hotel,” but all three Oscar-nominated makeup/hairstyling teams are worthy contenders. It’s about creative transformation in one form or another.

1. Frances Hannon (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”): “I did the research how Tilda should look, aging her teeth and eyes and the makeup and hair. Mark Coulier applied it for me and I made her up on top, using my mother as a bit of a reference point for the wonky lipstick and how a lady of her years makes herself up. The hair was perfect, a combination of the plumpness of Toulouse-Lautrec, the style of John Singer Sargent and the waves of Queen Mary. And the color came from a line where Gustave says he prefers blonds, so I used natural blond hair that had gone white with age. Some poor old lady had sold her hair, I guess. We used it in the wig and I made it of five pieces to give it that very tall height. With all the wonderful prosthetics that Mark did and the makeup, the overall look held together very well.”

Mark Coulier: I sent a team to Scotland to do a life cast of Tilda and then we sculpted the makeup. We were creating a Wes Anderson character and not just an old lady. We did a tall wig based on a Lautrec character. I looked at the silhouette and got that tall woman of stature that would complement Milana’s sumptuous costume. We then created 11 makeup pieces, we had back of arm and hand pieces, we had a neck, chin and two cheek pieces, two little nose pieces and forehead and earlobes, all created individually.”

2. Bill Corso (“Foxcatcher”): “My initial conversation with Bennett Miller was that I couldn’t get Steve Carell in that movie the way it was written, and he said, ‘That’s right: he can’t be Steve Carell in this movie. What we need for him is to be John du Pont.’ And for Bennett, this whole movie depends on the audience believing that he’s John du Pont. This is very disconcerting for a makeup guy because you never want the makeup to distract from the movie.

I used du Pont as a reference. He has many things that are polar opposite of Steve. The more we tested and the more we got into designing the look, the more Steve started to look like the real guy. And once he discovered his face, he became that character.
“We put on wigs and makeup and took away his eyebrows and we put nose putty to change his profile. And there was never a discussion about detail. It was about the overall look of the guy and if it was appropriate. But without the look, he couldn’t do the transformation.”

3. Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou (“Guardians of the Galaxy”): “James Gunn had the idea of wanting to stick with the comic book look. So we started painting heavier but that didn’t work and we started over. I needed to develop a look that looked like skin but had total coverage so it still feels realistic so we managed to discover a color palette but it had to be applied in five layers. And then in between that you’d paint on little veins or other characteristics, whether it was Ronan [Lee Pace] or Yondu [Michael Rooker] to give it a 3-D effect. So that when it went on to the high-definition camera, it would come to life and pop and the audience could relate to that particular color of the skin.

“With Ronan, we knew that he would be in a big costume and have perspiration and other things to deal with. The makeup we applied stayed most of the day; the only area we didn’t apply was around the eyes. I knew that his character was trying to become a higher God and that’s when we discovered that he would be pumping godly blood into his veins and we see him coming out of a birthing pool in full body makeup. The product we developed had to withstand all that so we did it in three takes. We made him up for five-and-a- half hours in the morning for that look. He would stand up and the black blood would just drip away.”

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