Contenders: A Look at How Makeup and Hairstylists Worked on Transforming Leading Actors

Makeup Film Transformations Eyes of Tammy Faye Dune Being the Ricardos
Being Tammy Faye: Daniel McFadden/Searchlight; Being the Ricardos: Glen Wilson/Amazon Studios; Dune Chiabella James/Warner Bros

This year is all about transformations.

Stellan Skarsgard in “Dune,” Jared Leto in “House of Gucci” and Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” all required hours in the makeup chair and daily application of prosthetics for their roles.

At the other end of the scale, Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in “Spencer,” Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in “Respect,” Lady
Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani in “House of Gucci,” Nicole Kidman in “Being the Ricardos” and Emma Stone in “Cruella” just needed little accents from a winged liner to a straight line or the perfect bold red lip, and even gold lipstick to make subtle statements about their characters.

Here’s an insight into the transformation process.

“Being the Ricardos”
Hair and makeup: Teressa Hill, Ana Lozano

Ana Lozano had to consider colors when shooting black and white sequences for “Being the Ricardos” Glen Wilson/ © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC

Filmmaker Aaron Sorkin’s directions to hair department head Hilland makeup department head Lozano were simple, “Being the Ricardos” starring Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz was not about taking a photo, but rather, painting a picture.

Revolving around a week of production and the re-creation of iconic moments from “I Love Lucy,” Hill and Lozano had to make sure the looks worked both for color and black and white.

Lozano’s biggest challenge was considering how colors would translate for black and white. She considered how reds would play onscreen during those moments. “If you use red-brown lipstick, your lips are going to be dark gray. If you want normal lips, you use a red with pink so it appears to be a lighter gray. If you use blush, there’s going to be a shadow. And we didn’t want shadow; we wanted contour. If you want to highlight the face, what’s best is light green, so we used powder with some green tone in it,” she says.

Hair and makeup: Nadia Stacey

Stacey (“The Favourite”) channeled the punk rock aesthetic of 1970s London for Disney’s “Cruella.” The punk rock ethos of unapologetically expressing your style went against type for Disney, but a bold red lip and punk legend Siouxsie Sioux’s heavy eye makeup were integral to Emma Stone’s Cruella. “With the eyes, I went for the beetle-wings [effect], whereby you rub something dark in, and there’s a metallic look,” Stacey says.

And for the look in which “The Future” is emblazoned across Cruella’s face, Stacey used the iconic font from the album “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” and airbrushed it on with MAC cosmetics.

Makeup: Donald Mowat

Donald Mowat touches up Timothee Chalamet for “Dune” Chia Bella James

While Mowat built natural looks for Rebecca Ferguson and even Timothée Chalamet in “Dune,” Skarsgard required Mowat to go full prosthetics for his character Baron Harkonnen. Seven to eight silicone prosthetics were applied to his face, chin and earlobes, while a 20-pound fat suit made of foam completed the look. In all, the process took seven hours.


“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
Hair and makeup: Linda Dowds, makeup department head; Stephanie Ingram, hair department head; Justin Raleigh, special makeup effects


Jessica Chastain is transformed into Tammy Faye Bakker Daniel McFadden

Jessica Chastain convinces in her transformation as televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker both as an actor and in her physical appearance. Hours of unseen, behind-the-scenes footage from filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, who made the 2000 documentary of the same name, helped Chastain study Bakker’s essence. Dowds applied Chastain’s makeup, but Raleigh worked on building out and applying prosthetics to her facial structure with layers of silicone prosthetics and changing her lip shape.

“House of Gucci”
Hair and makeup: Goran Lundström, Jana Carboni, GiulianoMariano, Sarah Tanno, Frederic Aspiras

“It took us an hour and a half just to cover his hair,” Lundström says of Jared Leto’s transformation into Paolo Gucci, the black sheep of the fashion empire family. Eight prosthetic pieces were needed and a wig to create the actor’s unrecognizable outing.

Tanno and Aspiras built a “crime scene” wall of looks to tell the story of Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) through hair and makeup. Helmer Ridley Scott required them to pull and create looks at a moment’s notice. For the film spanning three decades, the duo spent months in prep, working with Gaga to transform Patrizia from a young innocent woman in love to discarded mother and wife who stands trial for murder.

Rather than use CG or latex, Tanno aged Gaga with makeup techniques.

Hair and makeup: Lawrence Davis, Stevie Martin

Martin worked with hair department head Davis on “Respect” taking Jennifer Hudson’s Aretha Franklin from her early church days singing in a choir to her rise as the soul legend.

Martin incorporated Franklin’s signature looks, the dark brows and winged eyeliner, while Davis made close to 95 wigs for Hudson.

Through research, he discovered Franklin would often wear multiple wigs at times.

For the film, he built out the performance wigs more, adding extra hair to achieve a fuller look while maintaining the silhouette of the period for