PENNY DREADFUL: the pro makeup artistry

PENNY DREADFUL: the pro makeup artistry


PENNY DREADFUL on Showtime. Josh Harnett as Ethan, and Eva Green and Vanessa Ives

The beauty abides. Josh Harnett as Ethan, and Eva Green and Vanessa Ives (courtesy BSkyB)


My new nerd-o-rama fangirl mega-makeup obsession is PENNY DREADFUL on Showtime. The pro makeup artistry, set design, set dressing, and costumes are luscious, and I was immediately obsessed with the makeup artistry of PENNY DREADFUL. As I watched and re-watched, looking for the pro’s secrets to the makeup, hair and prosthetics, PENNY DREADFUL became more enjoyable and surprisingly creepier with each episode. The skin is either a wound, or simply gorgeous. Please don’t let the gore scare you; if you do, you’ll miss one of the best examples of pro makeup artistry on television. I absolutely needed to know how all of the makeup and hair was done – so I asked. SPOILER ALERT! Do not read on if you don’t want to know all about this show – yet!

Penny Dreadful - Episodic - Unit 101 April 25th   Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray  Sky Atlantic  ©SHOWTIME 2014

Did I mention that there were gorgeous characters on PENNY DREADFUL? Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray (courtesy BSkyB)

In a series of interviews with the wonderfully talented makeup and hair pros from PENNY DREADFUL, starting with Enzo (Vicenzo) Mastrantonio, (TITANIC, AVENGERS 2, AGE OF ULTRON), the head makeup designer, followed by an interview with Nick Dudman, the Oscar and BAFTA nominated makeup and prosthetic designer (STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and the HARRY POTTER films), and finally, Stefano Ceccarelli,the Emmy award-winning head hair designer (THE BORGIAS, SAFE HOUSE). They have all spilled their guts (sometimes about spilled guts) and told me about their work on PENNY DREADFUL.

Penny Dreadful  Eva Green as Vanessa Ives and Olivia Llewellyn as Mina Harker  Episode 5  SHOWTIME 2014 Sky Atlantic

PENNY DREADFUL’s no-makeup makeup.
Olivia Llewellyn as Mina Harker and Green as Vanessa Ives (courtesy BSkyB)

While Nick’s SFX designs are meant to frighten, Enzo’s realistic makeup designs breathe attractive life into the characters and humanizes every monster. Enzo and Stefano have used pro-only, drugstore makeup and top makeup brands that you probably have in your own makeup kit like MAC, Laura Mercier, La Prairie, La Mer, Makeup For Ever, Dior and YSL Beauty brands to create modern, beautiful makeup looks and hairstyles on Eva Green as the medium Vanessa Ives, Billie Piper as Brona Croft and Helen McCrory  that any woman living in 2014 would want to wear. We haven’t even discuss the gorgeous realism of Reeve Carney as Dorian Gray, Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray and Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler  — they’ve never looked prettier.

In my repeat viewings of PENNY DREADFUL – this time with closed captioning — I read as Vanessa (played by the gorgeous Eva Green) walked through the Vampire’s lair: “Footsteps squelch through entrails.” The gory scene was perfectly described. PENNY DREADFUL is a gripping, emotionally charged, surprising and sexy show. You might like it, too.

Penny Dreadful - Episodic - Unit 101 April 25th   Harry Treadaway as Dr Victor Frankenstein.  Sky Atlantic  ©SHOWTIME 2014  No embargo

Harry Treadaway as Dr Victor Frankenstein: he loves his work. (courtesy BSkyB)

So far on PENNY DREADFUL we’ve seen ancient vampires with exoskeletons, a sexually-charged seance that even shocked the degenerate Dorian Gray; the “Somnolent Women:” freshly – minted vampire chicks; vampire stakings; a beautiful boy-man with a rotting painting in the attic, and what a boy he is; a sullen, virginal Victor Frankenstein (what – he’s afraid of catching something from a live body?); Frankenstein’s Monster 1.0, 2.0 and soon, 3.0 – of course we’ll have to wait until next season to see 3.0, but the show has been renewed, so don’t sweat it too much; we’ve seen demonic possession with all of it’s spewing glory; and…there’s a Werewolf! Monsterous temptations, indeed.

Over the next few weeks you’ll hear about how the looks for all of the characters in PENNY DREADFUL were designed, executed, and all about the day-to-day process for the pros as they work on PENNY DREADFUL, their thoughts on what it takes to be a pro and the tools you need to get the job done.
Here are the pros coming up on My Makeup Bag Baby:

Enzo Mastrantonio grew up on set with his father, a makeup artist, and after seeing the work of Christopher Tucker on THE ELEPHANT MAN, Enzo was determined to become a makeup artist himself, beginning as an apprentice. “I used to go to my family’s garage with one of my best friends and we’d spend hours trying to copy beards, scars or other effects that we recreated from movies we had watched,” he remembers, and by 1990 he was working as a professional makeup artist.

Enzo perfected his artistry while working on the films TITANIC, Baz Luhrmann’s ROMEO + JULIET, SAFE HOUSE, the upcoming AVENGERS 2, AGE OF ULTRON, and the television series ROME, THE BORGIAS, and now, PENNY DREADFUL. Progressing quickly from Makeup Artist to Head or Key Makeup Designer, he worked with James Cameron, Roberto Benigni, Mel Gibson, Wes Anderson, Neil Jordan, Baz Luhrmann and many other talented directors. MOULIN ROUGE, in particular, had a huge effect on Enzo’s view of makeup artistry in film, “I began to see for myself how important the hair and makeup department was for an actor in their transformation into a character; on MOULIN ROUGE the makeup was so varied and creative, and the actors were so wonderful to watch as they made use of this tool, makeup. I loved it.”

Nick Dudman is the Special Effects Makeup and prosthetic designer on PENNY DREADFUL. Nick got his start working on the Jedi master Yoda as a trainee to famed British make-up artist Stuart Freeborn, on STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. After apprenticing with Freeborn for four years, Dudman was asked to head up the English makeup laboratory for Ridley Scott’s LEGEND. He subsequently worked on the makeup and prosthetics for such films as LABYRINTH, WILLOW, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, BATMAN, ALIEN 3 and INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, among others, and his team have created the make-up effects and the animatronic creatures in the Harry Potter films, garnering BAFTA Award nominations for six of the eight films in the series, an OSCAR nomination for the last one, in addition to a BAFTA award for visual effects for THE FIFTH ELEMENT.

Nick says of PENNY DREADFUL’s SFX designs: “We decided early on that reality mattered; no ” rubber monsters!” In my first talk with John Logan (the creator and Writer/Producer of PENNY DREADFUL) I never mentioned materials or processes. Just characters. I avoided the clichés, as PENNY DREADFUL is a reinvention, and I wanted characters who fit this story, who worked with the human cast. I wanted make-up, not masks, and less is always more.”

Check this space for more goodies!

Hats are where its at on PENNY DREADFUL. Billie Piper as Brona, and Josh Hartnett as Ethan.

Hats _ and lovely skin -are where it’s at on PENNY DREADFUL this season. Billie Piper as Brona, and Josh Hartnett as Ethan. (courtesy BSkyB)