The Walking Dead‘s Key Make-Up Artist Donna Premick and Hair Stylist Taylor Knight describe what goes into dirtying up the cast and share some hair and makeup tips for the apocalypse.
Q: How do you take a cast of Hollywood stunners and make them look like bedraggled survivors of the apocalypse?
DP: People always say, “You do makeup on the actors?” They think they walk in looking like that and that’s a big compliment… Everybody gets sunscreen. And then if it’s a woman, we will do their makeup very lightly so you don’t see the eyeshadow or eyeliner… When we got hired to do this job, [the producers] told us, “We want them to look sexy but yet to look like they haven’t taken a shower in months.”
TK: When I was originally hired, [the producers] were wanting a real tattered look, a really not-done look, a wet, sticky, sexy, hot look. Of course sexy is not hard to do with this casts’ hair. They’re all beautiful…I do a lot of highlighting for the sun-kissed looked…then we have a sweat mixture, so their hair looks wet and sweaty.
Q: Do you two have to follow the cast around to make sure they stay sweaty and dirty-looking?
DP: We do a liquid dirt and a dry dirt on them….And then we spray them down in sunscreen to keep it in place. But when we’re out on set and everything and they’re sweating it off, we have to go and reapply it and make it look the same way it did in the beginning.
TK: The sweat mixture stays in the actor’s hair, but we reactivate about every three takes so that it stays consistent from scene to scene. It’s a hot and sweaty show, but that’s life in the South.
Q: How has your approach changed over the last three seasons?
TK: From the very beginning I’ve kept an open mind to the look of this show…and I’ve enjoyed this show from the very beginning. It’s raw, it’s gritty and it’s challenging. It’s sexy and fun and we rock and roll every day.
Q: Was it difficult getting the cast comfortable with the dirt and grime?
DP: Not at all. They love the dirt…It’s getting to be a game. Who’s dirtier? It’s hysterical. And they’re really enjoying it. They love it. And these are actors. These aren’t movie stars where they don’t want to look bad. They know what they’re in for, and when they walk out that door they want to look the part.
Q: This season, the cast is indoors more. Does this change your approach?
TK: On [one of the sets], I think they do want people to look a little pretty, but I don’t think we’ll see any of our people looking glamorous… I think they’re all going to look like they’re always ready to go back out and fight zombies.
Q: What’s the thing that people would be most surprised to know about your jobs?
TK: How hard we work and how hot it is. It really is one of the hardest shows I’ve ever worked on, but it’s such a family that I don’t mind doing it.
Q: What can you tell us about the Governor’s look?
TK: He’s the opposite of Andy [Lincoln] as far as being the bad guy, but he’s just as sexy. We’re going to have a sexy Governor, honey!
Q: What are your hair and makeup tips for those living through a zombie apocalypse?
DP: Sunscreen and lipbalm. [Laughs]
TK: Ponytails, up’dos, and cut it short would be my tips for the apocalypse in hair.