Blogs are feasting on Natalie Portman’s dramatic makeup and Black Swan how-tos are the video du jour right now on You Tube. I’m also mesmerized by the character and am looking forward to seeing the thriller, and, even more so the dancing, during the holiday. In the meantime, here’s a behind-the-scenes interview with the women responsible for dreaming up this gorgeously bone-chilling look.
Q&A with Black Swan Makeup Department Head Margie Durand and Makeup Designer Judy Chin
Q: Can you give a step by step explanation as to how the Black Swan look was created as well as the products that were used?
Margie: We applied a pale ivory foundation with a white cream highlight on the forehead and cheekbones. To create the swan eyes, we used M·A·C Chromaline in Black Black. Using M·A·C Pigment in Silver combined with Mixing Medium, we applied feathery brushstrokes over the Black Swan’s eyes. The lips were lined with M·A·C Lip Pencil in Vino and topped with M·A·C lipstick in Dubonnet. We then lined the under eye with a thin line using M·A·C Chromaline in Red.
Q: How long did it take to apply Natalie’s “Black Swan” makeup?
Margie: About 45 minutes.
Q: Can you offer any tips for removing heavy makeup without plucking out lashes, irritating the skin, etc.?
Margie: I like to use an eye make-up remover with a bit of oil in it like Clinique’s Take off the Day with soaked cotton pads, which really does loosen mascara around delicate eyelashes. For those who are sensitive to oily removers I prefer Koh Gen Do’s Spa Water. I find it’s a great cleansing water for the face that’s gentle enough for the eyes. I then use preheated, wet wash cloths to remove any traces of make-up or remover before applying a skin balm such as Joelle Ciocco’s Lotion Lactee,which not only moisterizers but is also soothing on the skin.
P.S. Both of the eye makeup removers Margie mentioned are my personal go-tos!
Q: The ballerinas’ performance makeup in the movie is especially dramatic and visually arresting. What inspired the dark romantic makeup look?
Judy: The look was inspired by the story, and by the director, Darren Aronofsky. I felt that he was looking for something dramatic and visually striking, so all of the intensity was focused in the eyes. Margie Durand realized that there were elements of our beautiful set design that should play a role in our makeup. Thus, the delicate silver branches that played across the swan’s faces came to be. The ensemble swans and the Swan Queen are delicate and romantic with a soft pink lip color, whereas the Black Swan is dark, sharp, and, angular.
Q: A ballerina has an incredibly active job, and in Black Swan, the characters wear both body and face makeup. What products did you use in the film that you were certain would hold up to the lights, movement and perspiration?
Judy: We used pancake makeup with a spray sealant to ensure that it wouldn’t rub off on the costumes. We also used M·A·C Paint Pots, M·A·C Powerpoint Eye Pencils, and M·A·C Pigments. In addition, we applied some alcohol based pigments that are virtually water proof and rub proof.
Q: Did you use any products in a non-traditional way?
Judy: We mixed the M·A·C Pigment in Silver with a sealant to create a waterproof liquid. We then used this metallic liquid to paint our delicate silver branches across the little swan faces.
Q: Black Swan makeup tutorials have popped up all over the Internet. Why do you think makeup fans are fascinated with this look, even before the film’s release?
Judy: What’s not to be fascinated with? The look is intense, alluring, and sexy with a bit of danger mixed in. Frankly, I’m flattered and pleased that there has been this much interest in the Black Swan makeup.
Q: How can the everyday woman translate the dramatic Black Swan makeup into an evening look?
Judy: There are a lot of aspects to this makeup that are standard elements for a classic beauty makeup. The highlights and contours along the cheekbones, nose, jaw line, and the pout of the mouth can all be adapted to a contemporary makeup. I also think one could incorporate the dramatic eyeliner – the angles and the intensity – into a very seductive, catlike smoky eye.
Margie: Think 1920’s vamp makeup: create the smoky Black Swan eyes with slender, silver eye liner applied under black wingtip liner and add thin wisps of silver liner over the eyelid, too. Rim the waterline with black liner and top it off with full, feathery false eyelashes. Apply a very matte foundation with contoured cheekbones and a hint of shimmery blush on apple of cheeks. Lips can be matte or glossy in dark eggplant, wine and even black colours!
Q: How long does it typically take for you to prepare to start working on a movie like Black Swan?
Judy: I spend a lot of time drawing and doing practical makeup tests. Depending on actor availability and camera tests, it could take three to four weeks of preparation.
Q: What other films have you worked on?
Judy: The Unbelievable Truth, Ghost Dog, Requiem for a Dream, Frida, House of Sand and Fog, Broken Flowers, The Fountain, Blood Diamond, Across the Universe, Synecdoche New York, All Good Things, The Wrestler, Sex and The City: The Movie, Sex and The City 2, Dream House and The Tempest.
Q: How did you get into the film industry and how many years have you been working with makeup on film sets?
Margie: I began working on music videos in the late 1980’s and I have been a makeup artist for 22 years.
Judy: I’ve been working in the film industry for 22 years, as well. I got started by working on any project I could get my hands on that required a makeup artist. I worked on low budget films, no budget films and music videos. Some of those projects were extremely difficult because they were so small that they often never even considered what a difference a good makeup department could have made. That said, I always managed to enjoy my work, be innovative, and enjoy the creative process with the actors. I was lucky to meet some wonderful crews early on, and they inspired me to persevere. It totally paid off.
Q: What is the one M·A·C product that you cannot go on set without? Why?
Margie: I use so many M·A·C products on every job, but the Blot Powders are a must for whatever seems to be going on with my makeup at any given moment!
Judy: I guess I would have to say a Powerpoint Eye Pencil. I think I could make up anyone with just one Powerpoint Eye Pencil. Or at lease enhance their features.