Michelle Radow Interview: ‘Big Little Lies’ makeup
Michelle Radow just earned her second Emmy nomination in a row as the makeup department head of “Big Little Lies.” Nominated last year for “Sharp Objects,” Radow is now up for the “Big Little Lies” episode called “She Knows,” which features the big disco party. “That was a massive undertaking,” says Radow in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “We had 18 to 20 additional makeup artists a day in addition to our staff of 10 that we had. It was really an undertaking and I’m just really proud of the result that ended up on camera.” Watch the video interview above.
As the makeup department head, Radow stepped into a larger role on “Big Little Lies” for Season 2, having previously worked her way up to key makeup artist in Season 1. For this second season, the makeup team was tasked with “showing the deterioration” of Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and her emotional journey while “bringing in warmer tones” for Jane (Shailene Woodley), who is in a better place compared to Season 1. It was also important to hint at the idea that Renata (Laura Dern) may have gotten some work done to her face, with the team using “up to three lifts to give Laura that effect. The hair department helped out and did the braiding underneath her hair so it even pulled her skin back even more.”
The disco party episode was a big responsibility for Radow and her team, with bold makeup and face paint on the kids and adults in the cast, most notably Ziggy’s (Iain Armitage) David Bowie-inspired look. The makeup team had to also reflect the wealth and status of the characters. “These people had money, it’d be a little more elaborate. They’d have access to more things,” observes Radow. “Just talking with the team and working with everybody on each leading lady having a different color palette and a different look was really important to us.” With few exceptions — such as the disco party — Radow likes to stress to her team the importance of natural looks in her contemporary design. “I always remind my team, less is more in these situations,” she states. “I’d rather have to get to set and pump something up than get there and it’s like, ‘Whoa. It’s looking too finished.’ I like to have a little grit to it.”