When it comes to getting into character, Blake Lively is a hair-color chameleon. The Green Lantern actress, who appears with Ryan Reynolds in the summer-blockbuster hopeful out June 17, has been blond, brunette (it was a wig) and red all in the past year. Best known for her natural golden locks on the CW's Gossip Girl, Lively insisted on having dark tresses like the DC Comics character Carol Ferris' when she signed on for the Warner Bros. film.
"We often use wigs because an actress will move from one role directly to another, and it requires a dramatically different look," says Natascha Ladek, who was responsible for Sandra Bullock's platinum wig for The Blind Side and was commissioned to create the perfect dark wig for Lively's comic-book look. "Brown always reads darker onscreen, so we put a lot of shades in, which the light picks up. It's more dimensional than a block of solid dark hair."
Rod Ortega, Lively's hairstylist on the Lantern set, stresses the importance of creating a seamless illusion with a wig, especially because the HD lens picks up on things you normally wouldn't see. "On the big screen, you can see when something's wrong; the last thing you want is for someone watching the movie to get distracted by her hair," says Ortega, adding that everyone on the film's Louisiana set thought Lively's wig was her actual hair. He admits that finding that flawless shade, which involved three weeks of hair and makeup tests, was the most involved process he has ever been a part of for a movie. It sounds extreme, he says, but hair color often affects how moviegoers perceive a character: "Blond says cute and quirky like Reese Witherspoon or Goldie Hawn, but brunette is instantly associated with dark, mysterious and seductive -- Blake's character needed to be those things," Ortega says.
After Lantern wrapped, Lively wanted to be a redhead for her role in Lighthouse Entertainment's indie film Hick (to be released in 2012), and this time she decided on a dye job. She went to Beverly Hills-based colorist Rona O'Connor of Lukaro salon for her blond-to-red transformation. "I look at hair color through a camera's eye; you need to give it lots of dimension or it will look flat," says O'Connor, who's known for creating signature shades like Debra Messing's auburn locks on Will & Grace. To achieve the necessary dimension for Lively's look, O'Connor applied three shades of red: "A golden apricot, a very coppery copper and a ruby copper. The golden color will fade back to blond." To avoid dull color and damaged ends (or looking like you've had one too many dye jobs), O'Connor recommends using Kerastase's products for color-treated hair. As for her client's signature Serena van der Woodsen mane? "In the fall we'll go back to blond for Gossip Girl," O'Connor says, "but in the meantime, Blake's having fun with the change."