PHOTOS BY HILARY B GAYLE/LIONSGATE
SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS
by KAZU HIRO | PROSTHETIC MAKE-UP DESIGNER
In July of 2018, I received an email from Charlize Theron’s assistant, Matt Maher. He asked me if I was available for a film where she would be playing Megyn Kelly. I had met Charlize briefly when I was working on Mighty Joe Young and The Devil’s Advocate. I’ve always respected her work immensely, so I replied right away to express my interest.
I met the director Jay Roach and producers Beth Kono, Bob Graf and Karen Getchell. It was clear to me that this movie was being made with true compassion and love and by a great group of people.
It was a very challenging job since I needed to do likeness make-up of people who are currently living or had recently passed away as opposed to historical figures. On top of that, the actors were very recognizable A-list talent. Most audiences watching the film would know both—what they looked like in person, and what the real-life characters looked like. Of course, the make-up also needed to be believable and invisible.
I was brought on board before we had a make-up and hair department head but we decided to go ahead to schedule life cast and 3D scans for Charlize, as well as the other two leads, John Lithgow and Nicole Kidman. I asked Vincent Van Dyke and his team to work as our lab team. I have been working with them since Darkest Hour. I designed and sculpted at my studio, then Vincent’s crew molded and casted appliances.
Charlize has such a beautiful face with each part of her face a different delicate perfection. My challenge was to modify each of those parts of her face to resemble Megyn without exaggeration. I studied both faces and decided what was most important to change without losing balance. For instance, Megyn’s nostrils are much bigger than Charlize’s. Charlize had actually noticed that and requested to make nose plugs even before we did her life cast. During the life cast, we took normal full headrest and also her nose and the inside of her nose separately.
We also took a 3D scan which I started at the same time as the life cast, since there are so many uses for the 3D scan. It is very important to have both in order to get accurate information. In particular, this is important for an open-eyed head cast when making her eyelid appliances.
I decided to make subtle small pieces which only changed the key points of her face so she had plenty of freedom for her acting. The final design included eyelids, nose tip, nose plug, chin and jaw. Irises are much darker, so I asked Jessica Nelson to make tinting cornea lenses. This would mean we could still see Charlize’s irises and pupils through the lenses.
The eyelids were the hardest to change. They needed to move with her eyelid without discomfort. I sculpted three different versions before the test make-up. Then after filming started, I made three different versions until I got the best version.
Each piece was cast in silicone in a different softness. The nose was mixed with 100 percent deadener. The eyelid was 220 percent. Other pieces were 170 percent.
If the bald cap material was slightly thick, they showed up right away, so they needed to run very carefully. If we are applying on 20 years old skin, it was much easier, and also, beauty make-up on top of appliances made everything even harder.
The original sculpture I did for Nicole was her nose, chin and cheeks since Gretchen has a rounder face compared to Nicole. But Nicole and Jay discussed it and we decided to eliminate the cheek pieces. This made the application much trickier.
Decisions on both female designs were brave and challenging ones. I would typically avoid using this kind of small appliance in the middle of a female face. But for this film, it was unavoidable. This is a serious story filled with subtle acting and a lot of close-up shots, so it was necessary to get it perfect.
As for the other characters, John Lithgow was another big challenge. Jay was clear he did not want to diminish John acting under the make-up. He wanted to keep all of the characters subtle but with enough effect to show the essence of each person they are portraying.
To begin with, since Roger Ailes was a much larger man than John, he would need to gain a lot of weight. Our amazing costume designer Colleen Atwood made a bodysuit for John at the same time that I was designing his make-up. Since our budget was somewhat limited, it was also important that all of the actors, and John in particular, could have their make-up applied relatively quickly so that they could have as much time on set as possible. Our aim in designing his make-up was that it could be applied in less than three hours.
Roger Ailes had a very particular head shape and hairline that were quite different from John’s. I asked John if he would let me shave his hairline to change his facial proportion and explained this would significantly help to reduce his time in the make-up chair. I then gave him a nose, cheeks, neck and ear lobes. Later, Anne Morgan cleaned up his hairline beautifully, and she also attached hair extensions, plus added some color.
In the scenes where Roger Ailes shows up at a younger age, I made an additional lower-lip piece to make his lips fuller. He was also painted with younger complexion and his hair was darkened.
Since I started before there was a make-up and hair department head on board, we had to look for that role at the same time the design process was starting. I asked my good friend Bill Corso and he recommended Vivian Baker. We needed someone who was particularly strong with beauty and prosthetics. I knew Vivian’s work and I had heard how amazing she was, but she turned out to be the absolute perfect fit.
Our hair department head was Anne Morgan. Anne had worked with Jay in the past so she was obviously a great choice. I feel so fortunate that I was able to work with these amazingly talented artists.
Kelly Golden and myself applied Charlize’s prosthetic make-up. Then Vivian applied beauty make-up on top. Charlize actually did some of her make-up herself as well. She is a great make-up artist in her own right.
The wig was designed by Anne Morgan and applied daily by Adruitha Lee.
Bill Corso applied Nicole’s make-up, and her wig was dressed and applied by Kim Santantonio. Richard Redlefsen and Hiroshi Yada applied John’s make-up. Vivian gathered a really great make-up team in the trailer.
This production had amazing people in every department. This project truly had the most difficult make-up to apply that I’ve ever seen but it’s an incredible testament to the team that it was also the most pleasant production I have ever worked on. •
PROSTHETICS & MAKE-UP
by VIVIAN BAKER | DEPARTMENT HEAD MAKE-UP
I received a notification from Kazu Hiro via social media about a film he was working on. He needed a department head make-up while he focused on designing the prosthetics for the three main characters. This felt like divine intervention, considering I had just returned home from working overseas and had two potential new projects go down. I was excited to receive such an intriguing offer from someone of his talent.
Upon interviewing with Jay Roach and the producers, I was informed that Charlize Theron would do her own beauty make-up after Kazu’s prosthetics were applied. Nicole Kidman would also have her own team, which meant I had the opportunity to work with Margot Robbie. While I still had more than 100 well-known media personalities to design and execute, I was delighted to work with her. With the talent and collaboration of Anne Morgan, everything was falling into place.
After the final prosthetic make-up tests, everything changed. Not only did Nicole request that I do her prosthetics and beauty make-up, but I was informed that I would be doing Charlize. Since I knew it wasn’t feasible to do all three leading ladies, I worked with the producers to devise a new plan. They rearranged the schedule so that Nicole and Charlize would initially not work on the same days. I designed Nicole’s look and worked with her a few days before Bill Corso was available to be her personal. Meanwhile, they found a way for me to execute Margot’s make-up but allow Cristina Waltz to cover her on set. With a lot of flexibility and teamwork, the producers arranged a tight schedule so that I was able to also focus on Charlize.
After several years of working primarily overseas, I realized I no longer have a local team in Los Angeles. Considering the scale of the show, I knew I needed artists who could do full-on glamour make-ups, in addition to heavy character/prosthetics work. My first hire was Richard Redlefsen. Kazu and I agreed that he would be a great addition for both our teams. Next, I asked Cristina Waltz to be my key, an artist with advanced fashion and prosthetic skills who could handle anything. Lastly, to handle the administrative duties and allow my artists to be artists, I hired a make-up PA, Megan Longmeyer. As an aspiring union artist whom I’d worked with for over a year, I knew she had the skills and temperament the film required.
Considering I now had the responsibility of two leading ladies and my department, I knew I needed another artist … fast! I asked Richard and Cristina for suggestions, and they recommended Tara Lang Shah. She confirmed her availability and began immediately. A fresh young artist thrown into the fire, she became a valuable asset to our team.
When it came to running our background team, I reached out to Randi Mavestrand. I usually don’t leave the responsibility of BG to one person, but I knew she could handle it. My hands were full and I knew she would take that weight off my shoulders. She assembled an amazing team, including Claire Doyle. Karen Blynder, Denise Paulson, Jennifer Clark-Keys, Laci Simon, Phyliss Williams, Jacklyn Evans, Annette Lorant, David Abbott, Jenni Brown, Kathleen Freeman, Joleen Rizzo and Elaine Thomas. I never once had to check on them, other than to tell them what a great job they were doing.
Jay Roach said from the beginning that he didn’t want the actors to be replicas of the people they were portraying. He and Michelle Graham did an amazing job of casting actors with a similar “essence,” but I still wanted to elevate their looks. After all, we were working with Kazu, the best, so we needed to be the best.
For the prosthetics required of the remaining cast members, I decided to collaborate with the immense talents of Vincent Van Dyke. Since he was already molding and running the silicone pieces for the lead actors, I knew his quality of work would match Kazu’s. After discussing specific characters, we decided on the pieces that would best bring them to life.
Three of our transformations included prosthetic pieces for Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch, Richard Kind as Rudy Giuliani and Tony Plana as Geraldo Rivera. Malcolm needed the iconic chin of Rupert Murdoch. After doing his life cast, Malcolm requested and approved to have Vincent do his make-up on set. The chin piece and application were essential to Malcolm’s transformation into Murdoch. The next challenge was creating Rudy Giuliani. In addition to fake teeth, Vincent created a four-part bald cap for Richard Kind, an idea I conceptualized for a specific purpose. It was kept thin so that no girth was added to the head, and the multiple pieces prevented any interference with his forehead movement. Lastly, several pieces were needed to create the look of Geraldo Rivera. Richard sculpted and applied a nose prosthetic, while I designed the mustache, sideburns, and brows that were created by ventilator Diana Choi.
The remaining character work on our other actors was very subtle. I did a full hand-laid beard on Stephen Root, who plays Neil Mullen. Ann Ramsay required teeth and heavy lifts for Greta Van Susteren. Fake nails, teeth, and contact lenses were added to many of the other characters to help match them to their real-life counterparts.
Lastly, after doing extensive research about the make-up applications “required” at Fox News by Ailes himself, I designed the heavy make-up applications of both the male and female newscasters. Cristina Waltz took the lead in executing the designs in order to tell the story. Multiple sets of lashes were used on the women to direct the eye shape, assisted by heavy eye shadow and thick mascara. These looks were enhanced further by the use of coloration, contour, brow shape, forced lip shapes, and heavy highlights and gloss. The men were also heavily forced in the shapes of their face and skin tone.
Our team of artists was focused and diligent to the attention of every detail. While I have certainly assembled and worked with many great artists in the past, this was the first time I had a team of artists that I had never worked with before. Kazu began the look with his exceptional designs and the film came to life with what we created together.
There were quite a few cosmetic lines we used. Each team member got the whole line of the following cosmetic brands:
Sonia Roselli Beauty www.soniaroselli.com
Surratt available at Nigel •
by ANNE MORGAN | DEPARTMENT HEAD HAIR
A few years back, I had the pleasure and honor of working on a project called All the Way. Jay Roach was the director. In that experience, we had such freedom with creative process and such support that I vowed that if I ever had the opportunity again, that I would do anything Jay asked in the future. That opportunity arose with Bombshell. Jay is a dream of a director. Actors love him for sure but his ease and ability to make you feel like everything you do is everything that he cares about, makes for a crew that wants to deliver whatever he asks.
After so many years of hearing about Kazu and seeing his phenomenal work on screen, I was thrilled to have this moment to work together. Vivian and I have worked in the past and have enormous respect for each other. I knew both Kazu and Vivian would be striving for detail and perfection as much as myself and I was excited to get started.
Each actor/actress that came in our trailer was patient with the process and eager to become the character they were portraying. It was an honor to help them transform.
I worked with a new hair team on this. After recommendations, I had the great luck of having the support of my two hair teammates: Jamie-Leigh MacIntosh and Margarita Pidgeon. Both of them were incredible and we worked together to make it happen on screen. There was also a great background department that really listened to the detail and directive that was given for any scene. I am so grateful for their hard work.
Vivian and I felt that we each needed to be in the same workspace as our teams. It really was a heartbreaker to not be together in the same trailer but the decision we made during prep was necessary for logistics and space.
Reputation precedes but the complete transformation, perfection and attention to detail that Charlize Theron brought to this role set the bar high and set the tone. I usually spread the work around with different core wigmakers contingent on what I might need. Peter Owen made the four wigs for Charlize, as well as the wigs for both Nicole and Margot. For many of the characters’ wigs, I might take a wig that exists and have them re-front for expediency or cost-efficiency. Wigmaker Associates, as well as Diana Choi were standing by for all our needs, no matter how small.
Kazu had been working with John Lithgow when we met. His transformation was so beautiful yet elaborate and occupied a considerable amount of time. I liked the balance of using John’s own hair. I knew my work needed to be minimal in design and execution. His hair grows quite dense so I thinned it using a clipper within the interior, and an electric shaver. I maintained this daily. Roger Ailes’ hair had an interesting pattern of graying, so I colored John’s hair the same. When he plays a bit younger, I used a water-based pigmented pomade to keep it tight and neat and affect the color subtly. I added Hair Palette touches for detail. I used (skin) wefts on occasion to further the stringiness and unkempt quality. I colored these to match. For texture and fuzz, I used a Japanese small-barreled iron. The goal was to balance the shape of John’s head with the prosthetic appliances; Roger had a much rounder head that I kept in mind with the desired result.
Jay had a photo hanging in his office during prep. It was a grid of headshots of the on-camera women of FOX. They all looked THE SAME! It was THE singular image of inspiration for me. They were so overtly sexualized and it was such a blatant tonal palette of skin and hair color. This was my blueprint. Any female on camera would likely be blonde (with some exception). Long hair. Wefts … flat irons, curling wands… They would be stylized according to the Roger Ailes dictate at FOX … what HE liked on camera.
Even the men became caricatures once we started breaking down their looks. Geraldo Rivera, Brett Baier, Sean Hannity…
Megyn Kelly is well documented, as were most of our characters. Once I knew where Kazu planned to place the pieces, then I made the decision that we needed to change and lower the hairline of Charlize to really liken the shape of Megyn’s face. In real life, Megyn’s hair looked to be quite fine and trashed. I cut, low-lighted and rooted all of Megyn’s wigs, taking care to darken her widows peak so it would clearly define the hairline.
(Wig #1) I chopped into what could be called a “bi-level.” We allowed it to be quite thin. We used tape-in wefts to load it up for her “FOX” look. I adapted their color with Tressa Watercolour shampoos and rooted with matching color.
(Wig #2) This one was made to be super snug and needed the wrap to be done just right for the part to show and to fit and look real at the nape. The cut was tight so you really had to get it right.
(Wig #3) I had intention that the third wig would have more wave and be medium length. Unfortunately, it took on too much of a Charlize-look when we tried it … so we chopped it up a bit more than originally planned. My suspicion was that in real life, maybe Megyn Kelly had gone to the hairdresser with a photo of the haircut Charlize had at that time. Therein, it was a coincidence that the tables were turned in art as in life! I used an iron and more of a paste pomade to help this wig in movement and shape.
(Wig #4) The flashback wig. It was more golden honey and fuller with a soft longer bob. The idea was to make her more fresh faced as when she had originally landed at Fox. The golden hue helped her skin tone to look soft and younger.
Adruitha Lee had worked with Charlize in the past. She came in a bit after we had started shooting and took my little group of Megyn wigs and carried the torch further. She made sure Charlize was happy. I was lucky to have her and I know Charlize felt the same.
Most all our cast was affected by the use of wefts, hair color, extensions, toupees or Wiggys, hot rollers, airbrush… It was a full bag of tricks.
The styles Nicole Kidman wore as Gretchen Carlson were researched and replicated beautifully by Kim Santantonio. Peter Owen also made her wig.
Victoria and Rob at Wigmaker Associates accommodated every detail and request that I asked for the Rudy Giuliani wig. They had a tight window on delivery and yet it was exceptional … like fine lace.
They re-fronted a Peter Owen wig for the late casting of Connie Britton. Connie has that infamously gorgeous mane of hair that needed to be all tucked up inside and look more conservative as Beth Ailes. Dealing with an active lower hairline on her forehead meant that the wrap and details needed to be exacting.
Leading in to my favorite, Margot Robbie. What can I say other than creating Kayla Pospisil was an extremely gratifying experience for me. Kayla was not an actual real person, so I had artistic license. I used a conservative right-wing woman named Tomi Lahren for inspiration. I loved the overly stark white blonde and felt that it befit the persona of Kayla as a weather girl from Florida.
She wore one wig by Peter Owen and I used basic styling to tell these story points. I have a shorthand connection with Vivian and we don’t have to say too much to each other in specifics but we dovetail in our vision beautifully. I gave it a weighted cut so I could create movement and shape at the face in either direction. I did a quick bleach cap and shampoo toner. It had arrived natural but it needed to be more forced. I wanted icy-white. I gave it a subtle root for depth. Her intro look is quite sweet. We upped her game with her promotion as Kayla makes more of an effort with straight blowouts or use of a curling wand.
For the makeover look, I used two packs of tape-ins for “sandwich” application. This gave an exaggerated “Barbie doll” effect, one that could be used for an on-camera personality at FOX. I made sure to not cut them or blend them so they were more obvious. We continued with the use of some wefts for a period after the makeover while Kayla functions in her position at FOX. I think one could mistake the beauty of Margot with the look of Kayla … in fact; this character look is quite far from Margot herself.
Telling this story was powerful and I was convicted to making sure that it felt real and it served the story. It takes a village and here we certainly had some of the very best artisans. It was tough as the schedule was tight and being a perfectionist can be tricky with timing but we all had the same goal, delivering the best. Sometimes the stars align and for this I am grateful. •