The world of movie make-up

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Forget the director and actor dynamic (we're looking at you Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio) - the ones who see the stars first thing in the morning and last thing at night are the hair and make-up artists. They are unofficially responsible for putting the cast in a good mood and after a long day of filming, they cleanse every actor's skin to ensure it stays clean.

We caught up with leading make-up artist Fae Hammond - whose CV is a roll call of impressive titles from Pride & Prejudice to Life of Pi, and her most recent flick Rush - to talk about her most memorable experiences.

Breaking the ice with Helen Mirren on Elizabeth I...

"I remember when I was working with Helen Mirren on HBO's TV mini-series Elizabeth I (of which Hammond won an Emmy and BAFTA nomination for), she said, "Listen, I don’t want to do make-up for hours and hours; I want to be ready in 45 minutes so let’s just do this face". We worked out a procedure where I would lay out all the make-up and she’d slap on the base and a lightener beneath the eyes while I worked on her hair. It’s so tempting to spend hours doing make-up but you have to compromise like everybody in every job.

"Because our work is immediately very close-up and personal we sometimes build very big relationships with the actors and actress. On some mornings we could endlessly chat about everything and on other days I can tell they need to concentrate so I rely on great playlists on my iPod."

Turning Olivia Wilde into a 70s siren on Rush...

"When Olivia Wilde first arrived on the set of 70s film Rush she had her natural pale skin and very dark brown hair. To make her look more like her character, the model Suzy Miller, we dyed her hair blonde and applied body paint in a warm honey colour to give her that 70s look of one wanting to have a sun tan.

"I was a teenager during the 1970s and vividly remember that make-up was basic and your options were Boots No7 or Revlon Touch & Glow. Despite what you may think, there weren't any strong pigments and make-up application was very see-through. We used La Maquillage's thinner to dilute the stronger make-up we have today. Our role is to not think like make-up artists, but to be as realistic as possible. Olivia loved her look because she hasn't really worked on period films."

Pinching Keira Knightley's cheeks on Pride of Prejudice...

"We’re proud to say there was absolutely no make-up used on Pride of Prejudice. We would cover any obvious blemishes but otherwise we literally pinched their cheeks and off they went. It was a decision between the director, Joe Wright, and I that make-up should not be seen on camera. I banned hairspray on Pride & Prejudice because it wasn’t invented yet. We got all the girls to grow their eyebrows and nobody wore mascara except for Kelly Reilly, to show the contrast between London's high society and our country bumpkins."

Losing make-up on Life of Pi...

"I could say I have tonnes of make-up but a lot of it does go bad and I have to throw it away. For example, the combination of heat and water on the set of Life of Pi caused problems in keeping the make-up in a good condition. The last film I worked on - a Ron Howard film called Heart of the Sea based on the real-life story that inspired Moby Dick - the make-up was almost hosed off with huge water cannons pretending to be waves!"

Creating a 150 year old on Stardust...

"The longest I've worked on a particular look is two to three hours on the set of Stardust. I worked closely with Mark Coulier, creative director of one of Europe's leading make-up effects companies, Coulier Creatures FX, to create the wig, head, nose, cheeks and chest pieces for the Lillim witch sisters based on illustrated conceptual images. After a day of filming it takes an hour to remove prosthetics because it's stuck on with strong adhesives that could burn an actor's skin if not removed very carefully."

Painting Brad Pitt's tattoos on Snatch...

"I couldn’t do my job if I was easily starstruck, but years ago, I was doing a tattoo on Brad Pitt for Snatch, and I caught myself thinking 'girls would give their back teeth for this'. I never lose sight of how lucky I am to work closely with people I admire on screen."

Fae Hammond's latest film Rush is available on digital platforms now and is out on BLU-RAY and DVD from January 27th courtesy of StudioCanal

Words: Sejal Kapadia, Image credit: Rex Features

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Stylist Team