How ‘Joker’ Gets A New Look For Origin Story From Makeup, Hair And Costume Team

Nicki Ledermann is known for her Makeup work. She is a Make-up artist and has done a lot of work in this industry including many popular movies. Nicki was also makeup head on Todd Phillips. ‘Joker’ which re-imagines the iconic comic book villain’s origin in an acclaimed performance from Joaquin Phoenix.

“We’re not in the superhero world. This story is treated as real life, and that’s what made the project so interesting.” Says Nicki in an interview with Variety. In this most recent take on Batman’s nemesis — a role played by Jack Nicholson in 1989 and which won a posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger for 2008’s “The Dark Knight” — it’s Gotham City, circa 1981. Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) lives a stagnant, innocuous life bringing joy to those around him by working as a clown — until a string of bad decisions sends him down a more sinister path. “Everything in Gotham is dark and gritty,” says Ledermann, whose credits include “The Greatest Showman” and Martin Scorsese’s upcoming “The Irishman.” “We wanted to connect that air to Arthur and, eventually, Joker.”

Ledermann, Kay Georgiou (hair department) and costume designer Mark Bridges learned during early meeting that Phillips and Phoenix had clear ideas for Joker’s appearance.“They came to the table with a digital mock-up, but we had more of a discussion about each look rather than sharing a bunch of visual references,” Georgiou says.

Hair of Arthur is described in the script as black but Georgiou knew that would be too dark. The stylist instead played with hairpieces to decide on the exact shape and length before reaching for the scissors to cut Phoenix’s actual Hair.She then dyed it in a way that wasn’t distracting or wouldn’t get lost in the lighting designs by cinematographer Lawrence Sher. “Whatever you do for hair in real life, it always lights darker on film, so we wanted to go with his normal hair but a shade darker,” Georgiou says. Completing the style, she added grease and texture to make it look lived in.

Bridges Arthur in polyester, trying in an era-appropriate colour palette. “I imagined if he ever did laundry, everything went into the washer at the same time. We made a kind of bad laundry feel to the clothing. It’s those subtle choices you can make for a character that inform the audience who they are and how they live,” says Bridges, who won Oscars for “Phantom Thread” and “The Artist.”

Arthur’s appearance as a classic clown needed a familiar yet unique style to deliver his working look at the beginning of the film, says Ledermann. “But we needed to create simple clown makeup that would not be compared with anyone else,” she adds.

“We didn’t want the makeup to reflect in the light so that it could fit with the muted color palette, since nothing is shiny in this movie,” says Ledermann. “The colors are a bit antique-y, meaning they’re not pure but have some warmth. The blue is a mix of greens and teal. The red is a reddish-brown color that resembles blood. Even his slanted smile is a metaphor that everything is not perfect. Maybe it’s funny — maybe it’s not.”

So, this is how Joker look was created and made this look iconic. We’ll see how this movie will go on the big screens.

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