ON SET: DEBBIE ZOLLER + FOSSE/VERDON

What sort of research and preparation did you do for Fosse/Verdon?
With five decades of research to do, the prep and research never stopped. I bought the Sam Wasson Fosse book that this mini-series is based on, but I had many other books on Broadway musicals and DVD’s of Bob Fosse’s films to watch. I also had access to Bob and Gwen’s daughter, Nicole Fosse, who allowed us into the Fosse/Verdon Legacy Archives. I had to research all his musical numbers that we had to duplicate and mimic the looks exactly. And the actual producers, writers, composers, pianists and others that were with Bob on each project. All of the background extras that needed to be period specific from 1940-1987, every daytime and evening beauty makeup for each time period and mustache and sideburn length for the men. I had six weeks of prep prior to shooting but continued my research every day during the six months of shooting. I left no stone unturned. I would email detailed information to every makeup artist with reference photos and specific makeup to use for each era.

How large was your makeup team?
As you can imagine, I needed a huge team. I was the makeup designer. Department Head was Blair Aycock, Key was Dave Presto, Personal to Michelle Williams was Jackie Risotto, background makeup supervisors were Sherri Laurence and Nicky Illum Pattison, Art Sakamoto made the teeth for Michelle Williams, Vincent Van Dyke did the prosthetics for Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams. Plus an amazing team of additional background artists.

How did you go about researching the looks for the Fosse dancers through the years?
The costume designers, Melissa Toth and Joseph La Courte, and Abby in the art department were instrumental in helping me get the research I needed for the musical numbers. Along with watching many Youtube videos and going to see musicals like Chicago, many of the dancers who have studied or worked with Bob Fosse were helpful as well. It was a group effort in every way. Once the costumes and the wigs that Christopher Fulton designed were on, everything came together beautifully. Filming the musical numbers were some of my favorite moments during the whole shoot.

What was the design process like?
Every actor, dancer and background artist who went in front of the camera had a fitting. I assigned a specific look based on the year they were a part of and the character they portrayed. I had reference photos of the real person they might be portraying and photos of makeups/facial hair for that specific time period. I then assigned an artist to that actor and it all came together, every morning. Some mustaches and sideburns were lace backed, but a majority were hand-layed. Every day was a unique challenge. Not to mention aging Sam Rockwell and Continue reading