Kruisfontein How did you come to work on Blonde?
I had completed work on Top Gun Maverick with Producer/AD Scott Robertson. We had a great working relationship and he called to ask what I was working on next. Once I told him, he said, “No that’s going down, I was on it too but I’m doing something else. I can’t tell you anything about it, but it’s something special and it’s a great makeup and hair job. You’ve got to trust me; someone will call you soon.” A few days later, I got a call, was told a few details, set up an interview with Director Andrew Dominick, was sent a script to read, and I started my journey on Blonde.
http://stephanepereira.com/blog/wordpress/wp-includes/wp-class.php What type of research did you do to prepare for this film?
My research included anything and everything that I could get my hands on¾reference books, Marilyn Monroe movies, fan sites, and even Drag Queens. They so often do beautiful Marilyn makeup and I wanted help from every source available!
What were the key elements to transforming Ana de Armas into Marilyn Monroe?
Besides the incredible production design by Florencia Martin, inspiring cinematography by Chayse Irvin, beautiful costumes by Jennifer Johnson, and beautiful wigs made by Rob Pickens and styled by hair department head Jamie Leigh McIntosh, there were a few key elements for me to transform Ana into Marilyn. One of them, I was in denial about at first. In order for the wig to work on Ana, her dark hair and hairline needed to be covered by a bald cap daily. Because we realized we would need to change the wigs often in a day, a regular bald cap wouldn’t hold up to that treatment. So, Steve Proudy from Fusion FX made me three custom prosthetic transfers to cover Ana’s dark hairline, so it didn’t show through the very pale wigs. Other elements to finding our Marilyn were lightening and minimizing Ana’s brows, lots of individual lashes, heavy on the outside corners, and reshaping Ana’s mouth to have a period shape with a more rounded top lip. And of course, the beauty mark.
What did you do for Ana’s look as Norma Jean vs Marilyn?
Norma Jean started working as a brunette and then became a golden blonde. For the early years, the makeup was not unlike most young, fresh-faced women of the era ¾brows, lashes, and a great lip. Once Marilyn found her signature look with makeup and hair, there was always an expectation for her to be Marilyn, with the shape of the eyeshadow, liner, doe-eyed lashes, beauty mark, and a beautiful lip. Plus of course, the iconic hairstyle.
How did you choose the red lip shades to create Marilyn’s iconic looks?
The choice of lip colors was dictated by the many Marilyn photos that we were matching and whether we were shooting in black and white or color. Some shades didn’t work well in black and white. We did a pre-shoot day of photography, that day we matched about 36 well-known images. This was a great opportunity to test a zillion lip colors and land on several favorites.
Were there any key products you couldn’t have done this transformation without?
I couldn’t have done this transformation without full collaboration and support from Ana and Jaime Leigh, hair department head. But, as far as products, three things helped turn the corner for me: the Fusion FX prosthetic transfers, changing her brows, and the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter Foundation. I was able to build from there.
What are the challenges you face when transforming an actor into such an iconic character who has been so well-documented?
Marilyn is known from photos even more than for her movies, but everyone knows what she looked like! No pressure! During my interview with the Director, Andrew, he was very clear; he said that I couldn’t just put Marilyn’s makeup on Ana, that I had to transform Ana into Marilyn. At that time, I hadn’t met Ana yet, and I needed to, very quickly, understand her face and find the techniques to transform her. So, then one of the biggest challenges became time. Some of the many looks we were only able to try the day they were photographed. Terrifying!
Do you have a favorite look you recreated of Marilyn from the film?
There was always a fun, rewarding moment when we felt like we managed to make a look work. But to the surprise of both me and Jaime Leigh McIntosh, our favorite look was the same, and not a look we really appreciated until it was on camera. That is when Ana stepped on the stage with the girl band from Some Like it Hot and began singing, I Want to Be Loved by You, it was all so perfect. Even crew members noticed.
Words: Shannon Levy
Photos courtesy of Netflix