How did you come to work on the second season of Big Little Lies?
I was introduced to Andrea Arnold (Season 2 director) by producer Gregg Feinberg and Jean Marc Vallé (Season 1 director). I had the pleasure of working with Gregg and
Jean-Marc on Sharp Objects.
There is a large cast of leading actresses, which lends itself to a ton of personal makeup artists. How do you navigate that as department head?
As department head, I am responsible for keeping the department running smoothly. I feel like the conductor of an orchestra — I know about each instrument, I share my
expertise, but I’m always learning something new from my team. I hire the right people for each task, and then we all work together to create the best result. In the case of Big
Little Lies season 2, I was extremely fortunate to have a makeup department of 10 incredibly talented artists — eight of which were personal artists to the leading six ladies. Each personal artist is solely responsible for the makeup look and design of their character. My role becomes backup and support for those artists, and any clarification or resources they may need for the director’s vision. I break down each script, scene by scene, and oversee things making sure the director’s vision is translating on screen correctly. Other tasks include production meetings and keeping track of all the continuity as nothing is filmed in story order.
Who makes up the team of personal makeup artists?
Molly R. Stern and Tracey Levy are the personals for Reese Witherspoon; Angela Levin and Kyra Panchenko for Nicole Kidman; Miho Suzuki for Zoë Kravitz; Simone Siegl for Laura Dern; Claudia Humburg for Shailene Woodley and J. Roy Helland is the personal hair and makeup for Meryl Streep.
Whose makeup do you do?
I believe we had over 120 principal characters this past season, in addition to the six leading ladies. Excluding the six, all other principal characters came through my trailer,
meaning the husbands, Monterey kids, teachers, background actors, etc.
How has the makeup changed for the ladies of Monterey from season one?
There were some aesthetic changes this season for the ladies of Monterey. Some subtle, while others will be more obvious to viewers. You’ll see some shifts in color palettes, makeup deconstruction, and sometimes more makeup to help visually tell the story. I had a lot of fun with actress Kathryn Newton who played Madeline’s (Reese
Witherspoon) teenage daughter, Abigail. We explored with more makeup, mascara being super chunky, overdone, chipped polish colors, layering colors over one another, etc. Claudia Humburg, personal to Shailene Woodley (Jane) used a warmer color palette and changed Jane’s look to be more uplifting this season to show a change in her.
Must-have products for your work on the show?
Dermalogica Daily Resurfacer is my go to for skin prep. I love TEMPTU Perfect Canvas Hydra Lock foundation with the TEMPTU Air for complexion. It’s a great formula and I can custom mix any foundation color in the Pro pods. The machine fits perfectly in my set bag so I can bring the whole thing right to set with me! Chanel Natural Finish loose
powder No. 22, Rose Clair sets makeup beautifully. RCMA foundation palettes are also a staple in my kit, they have beautiful coverage and a great shade selection.
What was the setup like for makeup/hair?
We had three makeup trailers, sometimes all working simultaneously, to take care of our cast plus additional background trailers depending on the scene.
How did you execute the makeup for the disco party?
The party scene was loads of fun and took all my organizational skills to make it a success! My key makeup artist and second-in-command, Erin Rosenmann, was literally
the key to the disco party success. She managed all the additional makeup artists, communicated direction with them, and put out fires before they reached me so I could
focus on getting us through this big day.
We had poster boards with charts showing the 18 additional makeup artists I hired each day for a week straight and the station they were assigned to. I had three stations for the background: Disco Glam, Facial Hair, and Face Painting. I referenced a lot of books, late night Pinterest and google searches, and walking the aisles of craft stores. I kept in
constant communication, and ideas flowing, with our incredible costume designer, Alix Friedberg and hair department head Jose Zamora. Some inspiration and ideas came from photographs of icons like Bowie, Debbie Harry, Rick James, Bee Gees, Pam Grier, Twiggy and Diana Ross. I watched a lot of music videos and did tons of makeup tests.
I hand mixed seven tubs of my own glitter colors that were used on some of our principal and background actors.
Do you have a favorite look from this season?
The kid’s makeup looks for the disco party were my favorite! We used Mehron and Wolf Brothers aqua-based paint, custom made stencils, MAC acrylic paints and pigments,
airbrush colors by Temptu and European Body Art to achieve some of the looks. The kids loved it; they eagerly lined up every day and hung out in the makeup trailer to watch each other get their makeup done.
Words Shannon Levy
Photos Jennifer Clasen, Merie W. Wallace/HBO