Besides being kick-ass (literally) superhumans, Marvel characters have another thing that makes them stand out, their looks. Costume and Makeup play an important role in the Marvel Universe and work together very beautifully to bring these characters to the big or small screen.
Sarit Klein, Makeup Designer for 15 years, is the woman that is responsible for the faces that will make up Marvel’s The Defenders, premiering August 18.
For the past 3 years, she has been in the Marvel Studios working on season ones of all the Marvel Netflix superhero shows: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Marvel’s new project now sees her bringing all four worlds (and looks) together in a crossover series where four of Marvel’s biggest heroes team up to fight crime in New York City.
Sarit Klein talked to MEFeater about The Defenders, her makeup design process, favorite products and more.
How different is it, in terms of process and techniques, when you’re working with men vs women in the superhero Marvel world?
In designing men’s makeup we mainly discuss facial hair- pattern, length, and color (for instance Finn Jones’ natural beard color is very red and we toned the redness down to match his hair color, which is blond for the Iron Fist character ).
When we discuss women’s makeup, we discuss color tones that match what they are wearing, specific episodes or scenes (for instance if someone is sick/on drugs ), what can be done to make them evil.
Is it difficult trying to bring these comic book figures to life? Trying to make it as accurate as possible, but still modern?
I think it’s a lot of fun! Designing character looks for these shows is a true collaboration with many chefs involved. There are multiple discussions and meetings with Execs from Marvel, Netflix the Show runner and myself. These start in the prep phase (a couple of months before we start shooting) and continue daily while prepping for the next episode.
We come up with ideas to make them look real and nitty-gritty. The actor’s input is always taken into consideration as well. Krysten (who plays Jessica Jones), myself and Melissa Rosenberg (Creator) discussed Jessica Jones’ look and had a couple makeup tests until the final look was agreed upon.
Which character’s look required the most work?
Madame Gao’s (from Iron Fist) makeup process was most elaborate. She goes through a huge transformation. She is a few hundred years old so we age her, using the Stretch and Stipple technique. It’s a 2 people process, she sits in makeup for over an hour. We use WM creations old age stipple and every inch of her skin is aged. Once it’s dry, we hand paint ages spots and color her brows.
One of my favorite #marvel characters to create. The infamous Madame GAO, seen in #daredevil and #ironfist. I love the transformation process and I always look forward to spending time with Wai Ching Ho! We use W.M. Creations old age stipple all over her face, neck and hands, then paint age spots using @europeanbodyart alcohol based palettes. Thank you to all the Gao Gao girls who helped bring this character to life on the shows 👩❤️💋👩✨💥#marveluniverse #netflix #madamegao @daredevil @marvel_s_iron_fist #specialeffectsmakeup #sfxmakeup #makeup #makeupartist #tvshow #fxmakeup #wmcreations #oldagemakeup #stretchandstipple #marvelsironfist #marvelsdaredevil #makeuptransformation #makeuptrailer
With The Defenders, How did you create one crossover look, combining the 4 different worlds?
The amazing SJ Clarkson, who directed the first 2 ep. Of The Defenders, visually established the look of the show. Since each character had their own color palette on their personal shows, she brought those colors all together, sometimes in the same scene. Since I designed all the personal superhero shows, I had the knowledge of each color palette and knew what makeup colors worked with specific camera filters.
How does makeup enhance the characters and their story lines?
The makeup designed for the 4 superheroes is “invisible makeup”. These characters are real, grounded. Yes, they have makeup on, but it’s done in a way that makes it seem as tho they don’t have any on.
Matt Murdock (Daredevil) is blind so it’s ok if his facial hair isn’t perfect but he is a lawyer so he tries to be neat and put together.
Jessica Jones’ character never looks in the mirror or cares about her look, she also barely sleeps… The makeup focus is on her eyes smudged liner to make her look edgy, hard, sometimes tired.
Explain the techniques used for aging, facial hair application and injury stimulation?
Aging: Madame Gao, as explained in the previous answer, gets stretch and stipple using WM creations old age stipple on her face, neck, arms, and hands.
Facial Hair: we’ve had to do a lot of facial hair application on these shows, many times last-minute. There are multiple stunt guys whether it’s applying Finn Jones’ stunt man’s lace beard every time, or different stunt people where we hand lay goatees or beards. For the flashback episode of Luke Cage (ep. 4), I designed and applied 3 different beards to the show passage of time. Those beards needed to be put on top of his goatee, which created a challenge of maintenance, esp. for the underwater scene.
Injury: we mainly use alcohol palettes – European Body Art and Premiere Illustrator and use stipple brushes or stipple sponges. If a prosthetic is needed, Josh Turi, the Prosthetic designer for these shows and my partner in crime, designs and applies scars, heavy wounds. He also helped create the Iron Fist tattoo.
What are some of your favorite products to use?
I am currently obsessed with Julie Hewitt organic camellia oil. It’s a natural anti oxidant, I can use it as a makeup remover, a day or night moisturizer softens your wrinkles and even helps heal scars!
I also love Hurraw Lip balm – it’s organic, vegan and cruelty-free! It comes in various flavors and some are based on Ayurvedic doshas.
Other staples in my kit for skin care are Tata Harper, Dermalogica, Skyn Iceland.
I recently started using Vapour Beauty products and I LOVE their primers, siren lipsticks and elixir lip glosses!
Watch the trailer below for Marvel’s The Defenders, premiering August 18 on Netflix!