Fans know John Travolta by his baby blue eyes, a strong, cleft chin, dark hair and thick eyebrows. For makeup effects designer Tony Gardner, that meant preserving those traits when transforming the star into middle-aged hausfrau Edna Turnblad.
“We wanted people to know it was still John Travolta,” Gardner says. “We made some of the features reminiscent of him, like the tip of his nose and cleft in the chin, but feminized it.”
Another challenge was simply keeping the silicone makeup, which is highly susceptible to moisture, from falling off Travolta’s face as he performed a number of dance sequences.
“The only way to get the sweat out is to roll a makeup brush over the surface and squeeze the water out in between where the layers overlap,” Gardner explains. “We tortured him, but he is hands-down the nicest person to be stuck to for three months.”