Makeup Artist Brigette Ellis Discusses Her Work on True Blood

October 17, 2009 by  

normal_True-BloodDotNet_Season2_029True Blood’s makeup department has some strange tasks to do, like creating bloody tears for vampires. Lead makeup artist Brigette Ellis, who used to work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even won an Emmy for it, knows how to make a supernatural story come to life through makeup. In an interview with Beauty Blogging Junkie, she lists some of her favorite products for the actors of True Blood and what challenges the show presents.

Brigette loves being a makeup artist because she gets to make people look gorgeous and then mess it all up. Her favorite thing about her job on True Blood is reading the scripts in advance, and working for executive producer Alan Ball. The job does have some more difficult aspects though:

“Staying true-to-universe and making executive decisions about a character’s makeup. For example, though Lafayette typically applies an entire face of drag queen makeup, I wanted his look for his dash to save Tara with Sookie to be realistic. So I made sure to give him very minimal makeup that day to work in some of the backstory–that he didn’t have time to touch up his makeup.”

Brigette has a unique makeup style for each character. Queen Sophie-Anne has a very “period-centric beauty” to her, which Brigette conveyed by giving Evan Rachel Wood perfect red lips. Maryann’s eyes always looked dark and exotic, and the makeup they used was tarte Eye Couture Day-to-Night Eyeshadow Palette. For Jessica, Brigette uses tinted moisturizer and lots of Lip Venom. She takes a different approach to the human characters:

“We keep the humans very bronzed and sweaty (we spray them with water) to serve as a contrast to the vampires who are always cool and collected.”

eric_criesAs for the bloody tears, Brigette says it takes both practical and visual effects. Sometimes she places a red tear in the actor’s eyes, and other times, when more crying is required, the actor cries normally and then they use a computer to graphically color the tears red. She offers up a few specific examples of these techniques:

“When Jessica finds out that she will cry blood tears for the rest of her life–or her existence, rather–she cries a single teardrop. That one, I went in and applied. When Eric was crying about the loss of Godric was also achieved practically. I put the first blood tear into his eyes using a theatrical makeup brand’s product called My Blood. In the scene where Eric is completely devastated and Sookie finds him literally all cried out, we used three layers of blood: a tattoo-like ink, our fresh blood (again, My Blood), and dried blood as well. I’m aware that my job sounds so weird when I explain it like this!”

Those bloody tears on Bill, Eric, and Jessica have been very moving in some of the emotional scenes. It’s so interesting to hear what goes into the makeup on True Blood, which I confess is not one of the elements of the show I’ve ever considered much. But it is definitely an important part!


(Photo credit: HBO Inc.)