Bafta nominated make-up artist Naomi Donne spills secrets about Hollywood films

Bafta nominated make-up artist Naomi Donne spills secrets about Hollywood films

Film make-up designer Naomi Donne is behind some of the biggest blockbuster looks, and has plenty of secret behind-the-scenes stories to tell ...

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Naomi Donne (left) answers questions at the Bafta x MAC Cosmetics make-up master class regarding the Day of the Death make-up look from Spectre.
Photo: James Goldman

It takes great talent to create the iconic looks seen in films like Chocolat, Zoolander, Spectre and Cinderella. Naomi Donne has witnessed some of Hollywood's most secret behind-the-scenes moments as a make-up designer for some of the biggest blockbusters.

Young Post sat down with Donne during her visit to Hong Kong last November to teach a make-up masterclass hosted by The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and supported by MAC Cosmetics.

Over a fun and friendly conversation, the artist revealed a few details about film and make-up we might never have known otherwise …

Daniel Craig in Spectre may look like he has no make-up on, but even that requires make-up to look good on camera.

When Helena Bonham Carter did her magic wand stuff in Cinderella, her dress lit up. Sandy Powell designed this dress, and she got people in from Holland who made a huge rig that lit up the dress from underneath. And we were laughing because whenever I looked at Helena, there was a gorgeous Dutch hunk underneath her dress!

2 Sandy Powell and I are doing a stage production of The Hunger Games next year … I have no idea how I'm going to do it.

3 I did Shrek the Musical on stage, and we had 90 make-up looks in that. We had to change Princess Fiona into an ogre at the end of the show and we did it in less than 60 seconds.

4 There's been a big change in make-up trends in films. From being unrealistically perfect to now, where there's more realism in film. [In the 80s], people expected an actress playing an attractive woman to look flawless. Now, serious actresses want to portray their character and what's going on with them within the story.


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5 In The Crucible with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder, I didn't want anyone to have any make-up on. Because I wanted to depict these people with reality and I didn't want perfect skin. So I made a big speech to all the actors, I said, "I haven't brought any foundations with me to this remote island, we're not putting make-up on you except character make-up to depict a person you're playing." It was a very difficult story and I wanted it told the right way.

6 You can correct so much with CGI. Say you're in a situation where the lighting is really bad, and there's nothing you can do about it, you know you can sort it out afterwards. It's changed the pace of filmmaking, and it's changed my job drastically. Ultimately, I probably won't have a job anymore.

Last year's Cinderella was a make-up and costume extravaganza.

7 In Cinderella, we had contact lenses with pointy pupils made for the lizard [after his transformation into a human], and they were changed back to being round [with CGI]. I suspect they changed it because they found it too harsh or spooky. The lizard and the goose were my favourites from the film.

8 When you're recreating a real person, say in Philomena or Woman in Gold, you have a duty to depict that person in the most honest way that you can. You want to be very true and honest with your work. There's always that challenge.

9 I look at most of my films and I think, "oh God, why did I do this? Why did I do that?" But there are films I'm very emotionally attached to that I did as a passion. Cinderella is one of those films.

10 There are a few films that stand out to me in my career. The Crucible, because of the opportunity to work with people like Nicholas Hytner, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Paul Scofield. We broke new ground in Zoolander. And The Royal Tenenbaums. Those remain, for me, really important films in my career.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Putting on a stage face

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