“Oh, you know … black-and-white horror movies?” That was Tim Burton’s brief to repeat collaborator (and Oscar-winning hair and makeup artist) Peter Owen on “Sweeney Todd.” Owen knew the director planned to use a contrast-heightening bleach bypass process to achieve a silvery onscreen hue, so he had to exercise restraint with color, “especially with reds.”
Johnny Depp’s makeup was “your basic death mask, heavy circles under the eyes, foundation airbrushed on to create a pale matte effect,” plus a dramatic white stripe of hair, glued on at the front. Helena Bonham Carter received the same makeup treatment as Depp, plus false eyelashes handmade from human hair by Owen himself. Though Owen normally loves to wig his actors, he didn’t with Bonham Carter. “Tim wanted Helena’s own hair,” he says, “so we gave her an exaggerated tousle for the first half of the movie.” In the latter part, when her character starts prospering, her hair takes on a more reddish tone. “That was a wig,” Owen says.
But the biggest challenge of all? Cleaning all the blood off Depp. “There was an awful lot of it about,” says Owen.