Chris Clark interview: ‘Ratched’ hairstylist
Emmy-winning hairstylist Chris Clark just earned another nomination for his work on the Netflix horror drama “Ratched,” his latest collaboration with Ryan Murphy. Set in 1940s America, the style of the series is refined and glamorous, which extends to the hairstyles for just about every character on the show, from Nurse Ratched (Sarah Paulson) to the background players. Clark jumped into the project by heavily researching the time period. “I went from everything from mug shots in the 1940s through glamour advertisements and then I create files for every character based on my own thoughts,” says Clark in an exclusive new webchat for Gold Derby. Watch the full interview above.
One of the major factors for the Emmy nominee was styling hair while also incorporating hats into the overall look of the characters. Hats are seen throughout the hospital on all of the nurses and even outside of the hospital walls, with fashionable hats being very trendy in this time period. “Generally, in the early ‘40s, women had a hairstyle and they knew they were going to have a hat on it, so we just made sure that we could accommodate it,” explains Clark. “As far as the nurses’ hats, we knew that early on, what that was going to be like, so we designed to make sure every nurse had a spot for the hat to go that was proper.” The hairstylist was able to find bobby pins on Etsy from the early 1940s, which he subtly included to complete the nurses’ looks. Other subtle work he takes pride in is the men’s wigs, especially Jon Jon Briones‘s wig for Dr. Hanover, which viewers might not pick up on right away.
Crafting the hairstyles for “Ratched” was a real collaboration, with Paulson having her own personal hairstylist and Sharon Stone having her own vision for establishing her look. But one character Clark takes pride in styling from the ground up is Gwendolyn (Cynthia Nixon), who we often see with wavy, strawberry-toned hair. “I knew I wanted Cynthia in a red tone, but I didn’t want a red tone we had seen before,” notes Clark. “We talked a lot about this sort of strawberry idea for her hair and then everything about those shapes were based on a period photo that I then altered and changed to enhance her own natural beauty.”
Clark is excited to explore new eras as “Ratched” moves forward in time. The hairstylist reveals his favorite era to work in is the late 1950s and early 1960s, a time of societal upheaval in America. “We go from this very tailored very specific silhouette, very dressed hair, and it just sort of unravels as we move into the late ‘60s,” he elaborates. “I love hair being a demonstration of what’s happened socially to the country.”