EVOLVING LOOKS REVEAL EMOTIONS IN SHRINKING
ALL PHOTOS: BETH DUBBER/APPLE TV+
By Derrick Spruill | Department Head Hair
Designing hair on Shrinking allowed the hair department to portray real-life experiences that we’ve all encountered at some point of our lives, regardless of age, race, and social status.
With the help of each character/actor, we made a collaborative effort to ask questions that helped bring real-life hair by allowing things to be natural but polished. Take Sean (Luke Tennie) for example. He started out with a lot of deep feelings surrounding the trauma of being former military. It was imperative that his hair didn’t have an arch until we saw him in episode six, which was when he visually started to heal. Being a Black man myself, I know in our community, we take pride in sitting in a barber chair or having our parents polish our hair before any event.
When dealing with grief such as what Alice (Lukita Maxwell) was experiencing, I remembered there were days when we didn’t even look in the mirror, let alone know how to identify who we truly were at 16. We decided to keep it organic most of the time except when important events occurred, which we demonstrated by showing more waves and updos that made sense for that age.
Regarding Dr. Paul Rhoades (Harrison Ford), a psychiatrist working in a professional practice who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, we researched and discovered that it’s more important for the individual to maintain a part of themselves prior to the change. We kept his cut consistent throughout the episodes and added more texture for the scenes that show his life beyond the office.
Gaby’s (Jessica Williams) style evolved from her own personal day-to-day style by giving her a very natural bohemian goddess look. On the verge of a divorce, we wanted to let her hair indicate where she’s at in that moment. Once moved on from her relationship, Gaby decides to support her former husband by attending his art exhibit. For that look, we gave her an updo by twisting her hair up putting in some hair jewels and let down some flirty pieces. This style showed that she’s still emotionally attached and showing signs that she may not be fully over him.
Brian’s (Michael Urie) look is best described as a polished structured lawyer who likes to appear put together but isn’t. Playing off of his wardrobe, we felt that it was necessary to give him a look that could go conservative to hip. We achieved that look by shortening his sides and leaving his top longer.
Each episode of Shrinking acts as a reminder that we all deal with issues on a daily basis. Either it being at work, home or school. Being able to be a part of stories that brought light to what normally is viewed as heavy, angry and sad is what we need in the world today. Maybe applying some nontraditional practices to any therapy session may work for some. We took that approach in the hair department. •
By Linda Choi | Department Head Make-up
When working in our industry, you just never know which project or relationship will lead to your next opportunity. I had been very fortunate to have established a relationship with Bill Lawrence and his powerhouse of a production company, Doozer. A production family I was integrated into 15 years ago on Cougar Town. Cougar Town was an amazingly funny show with a cult following that lasted six seasons because of the signature Bill/Doozer touch: A winning combination of comedic writing that charmingly highlights the dynamics of an exceptional cast. So, when I was offered the opportunity to department head Shrinking, it was an easy, “Yes!”
Going into pre-production, we knew the lead cast would include Jason Segel and Christa Miller. When it was revealed, Harrison Ford would be joining the cast, it was both exhilarating and intimidating. Come on! Harrison. Ford. Mr. Ford, being one of the biggest movie stars of all time, rarely agrees to television projects. This addition only increased my confidence that this would be a truly special show. They didn’t stop there with their impressive casting which soon included Jessica Williams, Michael Urie, Lukita Maxwell and Luke Tennie. This all-star ensemble created one of the funniest heartwarming shows I am honored to be a part of, really showcasing Doozer’s ability to produce amazing projects.
Bill has always granted his teams freedom when creating character looks, as he understands that a happy actor makes for a happy show. As the Department Head Make-Up, it is my job to ensure every actor is confident and comfortable with how they appear on screen, never wanting them to be distracted by their appearance. This allows them the freedom to concentrate on their character and performance. The camera lens can be unforgiving and cause distress or discomfort for some of our talent, so ensuring that they look and feel their best is essential to any make-up department. With this freedom, it makes for one of the most exciting aspects of being a department head, which is being given the opportunity to enhance and create looks for each character. As make-up artists, we have the ability to transform actors, enhance emotion, and help set the tone of a scene. Surrounding yourself with a strong and collaborative team is one of the most important parts of going into a new series. This season, I was fortunate to be joined by my key, Vicky Lee Chan, groomer for J. Segel & Corinne Foster, make-up artists Yvettra Grantham and Terrell Mullin. In collaboration, we each worked with our actors to create a look that corresponds with each actors’ particular needs and brings out the essence of their individual characters.
Shrinking, being a contemporary show, allowed us to play with clean simple modern make-up looks, while being able to enhance and glam them up when the scenes called for it. The show, being based on real-life people with a comedic twist, called for some simplicity. When asking Corinne about creating Jason’s look for the show, here’s what she had to say: “When creating Jason’s look, I wanted to be able to show slight changes in his appearance to help tell the story of his character. He prefers a no-fuss approach to his make-up and relies on his acting to help tell the story. Although, his character arch has several emotional up’s and down’s, which he allowed me to enhance with small changes in his make-up and hair.”
Corinne continued, “I used basic grooming techniques, changing the length of his stubble to help show distress or confidence returning, as well as being fully shaven for flashbacks. Some days required multiple lengths which were either enhanced with color or blocked out to conceal the hair. We frequently enhanced his perspiration levels with the use of Tinsley—Glisten, Cover FX—Dew & basic Evian spray. His corrective make-up was punched up or toned down based on the scene. Making his overall look bright and polished for the finale, while always maintaining his ‘everyday guy’ charm.”
This approach was true for all of us when establishing our characters. Vicky being able to use similar techniques when creating the grit and distress in Luke’s character arch through his make-up. While helping Lukita maintain her innocence and teenage appearance, it allowed for a slow enhancement to her make-up look to show growth in her personal recovery and healing. This required covering all of her personal tattoos to maintain a young appearance. Jessica was able to showcase her character’s hydrated and flawless skin, while adding enhancements such as color changes or liner thickness when attending events throughout the series maintained by both Yvettra and Terrell. Having worked with Christa for the past 15 years allowed us to establish a great chemistry and ease in finding what works for each of her different characters.
For Shrinking, we were able to do a beauty look to really play up her housewife role. We made some adjustments to our normal approach by toning down some of the color choices or density in eyelashes. Fortunately, Bill Corso gave me some pointers on Mr. Ford’s make-up, which helped me approach working with such a legend with more confidence. His character’s simplicity and charm were what really needed to shine, which I feel we were able to do throughout the story. I was also very blessed to have Vicky on the team as she was able to help in creating the FX looks for both Luke and Tilky, while Corinne covered Jason’s FX in the beginning of the series. All of this collaboration helped create what, in my opinion, was one of the most seamless and enjoyable shows I have ever been a part of.
The chemistry of the cast of Shrinking is one of the most signature aspects of the show both on and off the screen. I was fortunate to have felt that chemistry among my team of artists, as well and I look forward to creating more great memories in future seasons. Being a part of a truly successful show with an amazing team is like winning the professional lottery. Thanks to Shrinking, I am feeling beyond lucky and have already won! •