'Battle of the Sexes': How Emma Stone Became Billie Jean King With a Tan and '70s Haircut

“Billie Jean King didn’t wear a lot of makeup,” says makeup department head Torsten Witte, of planning to transform the actress into the tennis great.
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Frank Barratt/Keystone/Getty Images
Emma Stone, Billie Jean King

A proper tan turned out to be a key to turning Emma Stone into tennis great Billie Jean King for Fox Searchlight’s Battle of the Sexes, which tells the true story of the 1973 tennis match between King and Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell).

The good news is the event, held at the Houston Astrodome, was heavily covered by the press, meaning that the team had access to plenty of images and video for research.

“Billie Jean King didn’t wear a lot of makeup,” says Torsten Witte, makeup department head. “Tan, tan lines, freckles, eyebrow shapes, shading and scars was more the direction we needed to take Emma Stone to her character as Billie Jean King." So the system involved a spray tan, self tanner and some makeup."

Stone’s hair was a “somewhat more modern version of a 1970s shag haircut,” adds hair stylist Frida S Aradottir. “I then had to color her hair to a very dark brunette, which I touched up once a week in order to maintain the richness. The formula for the color was created by (celeb colorist) Tracey Cunningham according to the research materials I provided.”

In the film, King’s hair is actually seen at three different lengths (hair extension helped that along). “And for one of the scenes prior to the final tennis match, she gets a haircut. For that scene, we created a custom lace front wig so we could actually see ‘her hair’ being cut on camera.”

The look was completed with Billie Jean King's style of glasses.

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