The hair and makeup team were able to transform Ana de Armas into Marilyn Monroe by staging a photo shoot.
Jaime Leigh McIntosh was the head of the hair department and Tina Roesler Kerwin was the makeup department head. She spent two hours every morning applying makeup and hair to de Armas.
“The photo shoot for stills allowed us to experiment with a variety of colors and find out what works best. Kerwin explains that it gave them the opportunity to see what works best in black and white, rather than color.
Our mission was to “find our Marilyn in Ana” and not apply Marilyn’s makeup and hairstyles on Ana. We wanted to define Marilyn as best we could.
The silicone cap was the first thing that came to mind, rather than a regular balding cap. De Armas’ dark hair required a silicone cap to hide it. A regular cap wouldn’t work because of the many changes she would have to go through each day.
It was a shoot session that took place before principal filming started. This helped tremendously since they would need to recreate many of Monroe’s iconic moments. Kerwin says, “Once the schedule and day were known, we knew that a baldcap would not survive.”
Three custom-made silicone pieces were created for de Armas, one on each side, and one at the top. They could withstand the rigorous shooting schedule of nine weeks.
The first was to place a stocking cap over the actress’s head. Three new silicone pieces were then applied every day. Kerwin says, “We needed something strong that could withstand the glueing and ungluing wigs.”
Although the duo had over 100 looks to choose from, only 50-60 made it into the final cut.
De Armas wore blue contact lenses in the film. Kerwin applied false eyelashes to the corners of De Armas’ eyes to perfect the shape. Kerwin says, “It changed my eye shape.”
McIntosh used her usual method of prepping de Armas hair to recreate “The Seven Year Itch” from 1955. Monroe walks across a subway grate, and Monroe’s dress blows up in a breeze.
McIntosh said that Kerwin mixed in the skin to match the silicone appliances, and then put on lashes. McIntosh stated that she would take over, “and the last thing they would do is to put on the wig.”
McIntosh admits that she was going for this look because her wig wasn’t right for her. “Her hair is shorter than in the film, so the one I had didn’t fit, so I had it curled a little tighter and pin in places to cheat it the shape.”
Kerwin said that Dominik shot in black and color. Kerwin also stated, “I tried every orange, pink, and red in my kit. I think everything was sampled at one point to see what would be successful in a white and black, and what would be successful in a colour.”
She continues, “I had an arsenal that was only black and white and some were only color and some were in the middle, where we could translate to both.”
Kerwin believes contouring is also very important. Kerwin says that her face appears rounder when she is younger. But, when she gets older, she still has the classic look.
Kerwin used a fuchsia and red lip to recreate “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. It was mixed to make it more intense. It felt overwhelming when you saw her, but it was balanced by the camera and monitor. We also had to match their dancers.
McIntosh was there to help. McIntosh was unable to afford wigs so she faced a difficult task. She explains, “The gray is applied to their hair to make it more distinctive.”
McIntosh points out that Armas’ hair was straightened for this scene. It doesn’t have the curl or bounce.” McIntosh adds that Armas was losing her widow’s peak due to the lighting. Andrew suggested that she paint it darker.
McIntosh adds, “It was another in the huge list of recreations we had to bang out quick.”