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AMC’s hit drama Breaking Bad may have ended last September, but for many it will be impossible to forget their favorite meth cooks — Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) — who both had a little help for their cracked-out appearances. And that’s where makeup artist Tarra Day stepped in.
Day, who is nominated for her makeup work in Breaking Bad at Saturday’s Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Guild Awards, didn’t join the show’s makeup department until the final season (succeeding Frieda Valenzuela) — and wouldn’t have done it without her boyfriend’s advice.
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“I didn’t really know much about the show,” Day told Pret-a-Reporter over the phone. “But my boyfriend is a huge fan [of Breaking Bad] and told me I’d be crazy not to do it.” Although Day didn’t necessarily know what she was getting herself into at the time, she expressed being grateful about working with the show’s “stellar cast.”
Since Day didn’t begin working with the cast and crew until the fifth season, she wanted to ensure that joining the team went smoothly.
“It was really important for me to maintain the look because Vince [Gilligan] set the look — he’s very specific,” said Day. “Since he had set the look he wanted to be, it was so imperative for me to keep the continuity so you never went out of the way [to think] that looks different.” Instead, she worked on subtle changes like Skyler White’s (Anna Gunn) and Marie Schrader’s (Betsy Brandt) makeup, conveying that they were becoming more affluent, at least for Skyler, as the show progressed.
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Subtlety was a key element for Day, especially in that moment when Walter White was dying. Day revealed that she and three different makeup artists worked on Cranston’s prosthetic pieces. “It’s a really subtle look and you can’t tell he had prosthetics on. It was a very light hand and we had to have lace pieces made for his beard. It was very important for us to make it look like he wasn’t wearing any silicone or prosthetics,” she explained.
In the final episode of the series, every Aryan gang member was tatted up. Exactly how many tattoos were applied for that episode? Three hundred were inked, with help from Day’s makeup team and someone from the art department. Each actor also had the hero Aryan tattoo. While it didn’t take too long, Day did say, “it takes a lot of talent.”
And we couldn’t agree more. Or as Jesse Pinkman would say, “Yeah, bitch!”
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