Tai Freligh interviews The Defenders makeup artist Sarit Klein…
Sarit Klein is a make-up department head for TV and film, known for her work on films like The Smurfs, When in Rome and Descent, and many popular television shows like Nurse Jackie, Necessary Roughness and Unforgettable. Most recently she has been the go-to makeup person for all the original Marvel series on Netflix, including Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and for the upcoming The Defenders. We asked her about doing makeup for all these different shows and how she kept it all straight when combining the different shows into The Defenders, television’s version of The Avengers.
Let’s start with Daredevil. He gets the crap kicked out of him on a regular basis. How do you create realistic bruises and gashes, especially in the facial area?
We try to stay away from the “beauty zone,” the middle of the face because it may distract the audience. I compile some reference images and we then decide together what works for the scene, the character and his healing power .
Jessica Jones is a bad ass. How does her makeup reflect her personality?
Yeah she’s a badass and doesn’t care what she looks like. She won’t ever look in the mirror. I wanted the makeup to be part of the character and not stand out or take away from Krysten’s captivating performance.
To make her look edgy but relatable, her bottom eye liner is smudged and not perfect, which helped create the no sleep-don’t care attitude.
She also doesn’t have any lipstick on. She actually only wears cherry chapstick! Her own lips are so pigmented that anything I would add on her lips looked like she has too much on.
Her friend Trish Walker starts out normal, but trains to become stronger. Does her makeup change as she becomes more of a fighter?
Throughout most of the show, Trish is put together. She gets multiple body bruises from all her training and in episode 11, once her and JJ fight with Simpson, her look is messy, unkempt and sweaty.
Tell me about the giant dragon tattoo on Danny Rand’s chest in Iron Fist. How long does that take to create and how long does it last?
Josh Turi, our amazing prosthetic designer who I’ve worked with since Daredevil season 1, handled the tattoo. He had about 17 makeup tests till the tattoo was approved
Are there actors or actresses on the shows who have real-life tattoos that need to be covered up?
Oh yes! Some of our lead actors have tattoos that we cover regularly. Other actors’ tattoos – if it works with their character and we get clearances and approval, there is a chance it will be kept as is.
Besides the dragon tattoo, are there other tattoos that you have to create on the characters from the Marvel shows?
Daredevil season 1 was the heaviest tattoo show – we had multiple tattoos on all areas of the body for all the Russians – principal and background actors. On Iron Fist we created the tattoo on the character Spider Lady.
Luke Cage gets shot up a lot. You must have perfected the bullet hole wound by now or at least as much of a hole as you can get in impenetrable skin?
Since his skin is impenetrable, the bullets bounce off his skin so they don’t create a hole. There was that one bullet towards the end of the season that hits him.
What is the role of makeup in a scripted drama series?
I believe that makeup is an integral part of the character and the story. Makeup can show how the character evolves, passage of time and I think bad makeup can even take you out of the story. If the character is beaten up but the wounds don’t look realistic, it stands out to the viewer and can distract. I never want my work to be a bad meme.
What kind of techniques do you use to age characters or create different facial hair looks?
I like to use the stretch and stipple technique for aging. It’s the most realistic especially when we’ve been shooting on the RED cameras where you can see everything so clearly. I used the Wm creations old age stipple on Madame Gao. We also hand painted all her old age spots.
These shows have lots of facial hair grooming and hair laying. Depending on the character and the time constraints, we will either have time to create a custom lace piece (like on the Luke Cage flashback episode ) or we need to hand lay mustaches, beards and sideburns on various stunt guys last minute. We always have various lace pieces and crepe wool, yak and human hair on hand.
What is your set of criteria for each of the four character’s looks?
My set of criteria pertains to the color palette of their individual shows, where their character starts and ends on the show, their journey and their healing power.
How do you combine four different styles and color palettes into one show (The Defenders)?
The visual tone of the show was established by SJ Clarkson, our director of the first two episodes. She wanted to keep each superhero and their world very distinct in terms of color palettes. It was an interesting challenge and all the departments worked closely with each other to make sure each world looks different from one another.
There’s a lot of fighting on the Marvel shows on Netflix. How do you keep it fresh in terms of simulating combat injuries? What kind of research do you do to get a realistic makeup effect?
Prior to the research, the injuries are discussed in the makeup meeting before each episode. Will it be a prosthetic or a non-prosthetic wound, how does each injury impact the character’s look and arc in the upcoming episodes, whether they have healing powers. There are many little details to think about before designing even the smallest cut. Josh Turi takes care of creating and applying the prosthetics and I am in charge of the non prosthetic wounds. I then compile a series of images with various injuries based on the guidelines from the meeting and give my creative input about what can or can’t work.
How did you get into makeup and who are your influences?
I’ve always loved to paint. I grew up in Israel and after serving in the army, I took an extensive makeup course. I chose to continue studying and got a business degree, which led me to work in TV, where I helped create one of Israel’s biggest TV stations. While working there I realized that makeup is my true passion so I moved to New York and started working on small independent movies and reality TV shows which eventually led to bigger projects.
My influences are artists that are masters at creating characters, such as makeup designer Ve Neill or the late Kevyn Aucoin who could transform anyone into multiple iconic characters
What projects do you have coming up?
I am currently shooting Jessica Jones season 2.
How do you survive the zombie apocalypse?
Make up myself to look like a zombie and fake it!
If not makeup, what would you have done for a career?
Favourite Marvel character?
Who wins in a cage match- Daredevil or Iron Fist?
I think Daredevil could win. After Iron fist summons his glowing fist he needs a bit of time to recharge his chi , and in the mean time Daredevil may pull some moves.
Best use of makeup in a television show in your opinion?
I love period shows. Especially if done well. Love Downtown Abbey, The Knick and Mad Men.
We thank Sarit Klein for taking the time to chat with us here at Flickering Myth. She can be found on social media at the handles below:
Photo Credits: Netflix
“Marvel’s The Defenders” follows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. A quartet of singular heroes with one common goal – to save New York City. This is the story of four solitary figures, burdened with their own personal challenges, who realize they just might be stronger when teamed together.
The Defenders will hit Netflix on August 18th 2017, with Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Finn Jones (Iron Fist), Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page), Simone Missick (Misty Knight), Scott Glenn (Stick), Rosario Dawson (Claire Temple), Rachael Taylor (Trish Walker), Jessica Henwick (Colleen Wing) and Elodie Yung (Elektra) appearing alongside Sigourney Weaver as the villain, Alexandra.
The Defenders airs on Netflix on August 18th.
Tai Freligh is a Los Angeles-based writer and can be found on Twitter.