Makeup Determines the Looks of ‘Penny Dreadful,’ ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘The Voice’

Creative Arts Emmys Penny Dreadful
Courtesy of Showtime

Creating classic characters from literature like Dorian Gray and Dr. Victor Frankenstein make the craft of makeup a crucial part of Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” (pictured above).

“I love the fresh take on familiar faces, like the classic Frankenstein’s monster,” says the series’ lead makeup artist Nick Dudman. “Reinventing them has been a dream come true and the production has allowed me free rein to explore, design and deliver these makeups. This is all about characters and our job is ultimately to aid performance, not hide it, so it’s about detail, nuance and flavor.”

On AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” makeup artist Greg Nicotero’s biggest challenge is the sheer volume of work— sometimes 300 “walkers” a day — and evolving their look from season to season. “We also love having the ability to create off-shoot looks like melted-by-napalm corpses or waterlogged walkers.” he says. This allows us to constantly change things up.”

Makeup artists on NBC’s “The Voice” are often shown on camera working on the contestants before they take the stage. “What surprises a lot of people who come and work on the show is how we have such refined and gorgeous makeup looks that are perfected in such a short time,” says makeup department head Darcy Gilmore. “The one thing that is a must is a seamless application and that every inch of the body must be covered. Trust that we have learned the hard way.”

Improvising and shooting from the hip are qualities that define the makeup on Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele.” “Most of the time we’re creating looks on the spot with no prep and just using what we have in making it work,” says makeup artist Suzanne Diaz. “We are pushed daily to step outside the box and make these characters come to life and be as realistic — and funny — as possible, no matter how crazy and out there they might be.”