Makeup Monday: Top Makeup Artists Talk Bake Offs and Getting Text Messages From Blake Lively

Deverill Weeks
Makeup artists Eva Von Bahr (‘A Man Called Ove’); Love Larson (‘A Man Called Ove’); Joel Harlow (‘Star Trek Beyond’); Chris Nelson (‘Suicide Squad’); Alessandro Bertolazzi (‘Suicide Squad’); Giorgio Gregorini (‘Suicide Squad’); Shane Thomas (‘The Dressmaker’); Richard Alonzo (‘Star Trek Beyond’); Bill Corso (‘Deadpool’)

Behind-the-scenes talent who worked on 'Deadpool,' 'Florence Foster Jenkins' and more of the season's top films and TV shows gathered at the third annual 'Makeup Artist Magazine' celebration.

When makeup artist Bill Corso got a text from Blake Lively saying that she knew someone really well who was looking for a really good makeup artist, he asked her, “How well?” She replied, “Really, really well.”

The query was on behalf of her husband, Ryan Reynolds, who at the time was about to start filming Deadpool. Shortly after, Corso, who has worked on over 70 films and won numerous Emmys and an Academy Award for A Series of Unfortunate Events, started creating Reynolds' character’s specific look. “The studio didn’t want him to look too scary or disgusting,” added Corso of designing the Deadpool makeup, “No oozing holes.”

Stories like this were shared among many of the top makeup artists working in film and television during the third annual cocktail party put on by Makeup Artist Magazine, celebrating the artists who worked on the seven films presented at the “Bake Off” earlier in the day. The “Bake Off,” for the uninitiated, is the process where makeup artists from seven chosen films present their work to their union and Academy peers. Based on their presentations, the members vote, and three films are finalized for the best makeup and hairstyling category at the Oscars (announced January 24).

“We have all these international artists that come together for the craft of makeup,” said Michael Key, founder and publisher of Makeup Artist Magazine, at Hollywood's The Spare Room, where the event was held. “It's a great time for us to be able to celebrate that as an industry. When they get done (with the Bake Off), they're ready for a drink.”

In addition to Corso, the makeup artists from Star Trek Beyond, The Dressmaker, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hail, Caesar!, A Man Called Ove and Suicide Squad were also in attendance.

“I grew up as a kid in North Dakota seeing these guys’ work,” said Joel Harlow, lead makeup artist on Star Trek Beyond and a previous Oscar winner for Star Trek in 2009. For Star Trek Beyond, “We created 56 alien races, some with multiple looks within the races for that film. As the conductor of this massive group of artists, I tried to allow them to create with as much ownership of the characters. I would be nothing without the support of my crew.”

Makeup artist Christopher Nelson, who created the complicated look for the Killer Croc character in Suicide Squad and has won an Emmy for his work on American Horror Story, noted the increasingly blurred lines between film and television’s production quality (and budgets). “Before (as a makeup artist), you either did film or TV. TV shows are now designed to be more like film, with the budgets we get.”

Budgets aside, when asked what one makeup product he would want if he was stranded on a desert island, Nelson replied, “Paint! Just paint: oil paint, coal paint, any kind of paint because you can do anything with it.”

Seems right, considering Nelson is a well-respected special-effects artist, but what about the artists who need more “everyday” products to apply to the actors and actresses they “paint”? MAC Cosmetics director of makeup artistry Gregory Arlt noted that the brand’s Studio Waterweight Foundation is one that his colleagues go crazy for because of its ability to mimic the skin. “Retro Matte Liquid lipsticks are a staple as well,” said Arlt. “Artists love them for their color range, as well as lasting power.”

That makes sense, given the long hours spent on set. And for the artists present at the event, the production schedule barely stopped. Harlow flew in and then promptly right back out to Atlanta, where he is working on a new movie, and makeup artist Shane Thomas jetted to L.A. from Australia for the weekend’s events.

“Even within our L.A. community, you can go years without seeing some of your friends because you're lone rangers,” said Key. “You're on location for most of the year. There are a lot of people here not normally in town. It’s truly a global business.”