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Contender-Daniel Phillips, makeup, The Queen

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An audible audience gasp is frequently heard as The Queen starts off with a full-face view of Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, so uncanny is the resemblance. But following this initial “a-ha” moment, most moviegoers stop thinking they are viewing a performance, so convinced are they that this is indeed the Queen of England on the screen.Beyond Helen Mirren’s inimitable job of acting, much of the credit for the credibility of The Queen goes to Daniel Phillips, who was in charge of both hair and makeup on the film. “It was one of the most difficult jobs I’ve done, not technically, but in the pressure to get this absolutely right,” says Phillips. “So many people not just in Great Britain but around the world know the face of the Queen; they’ve grown up with it.” And though they’ve never seen the real Queen in bed with hair in curlers, they see Mirren in this guise in the film.Phllips’ hair-and-makeup magic was also applied to Michael Sheen, the other main actor in the movie, who not only plays new British prime minister Tony Blair to seeming perfection, but looks like surprisingly like him as well. Sheen, who looks nothing like Blair in real life, had his hairline shaved by Phillips who topped him with a curly wig.A big challenge for Phillips was the short period he had each day. “I had 20 to 30 minutes with Helen each day, so the goal was to get the biggest impact in the shortest period of time. And the way I and my team did it was with the hair—it was all about the hair.”The last two years have been incredibly busy for Phillips. Besides The Queen, he also did both hair and makeup on two lauded current releases, Venus and The History Boys. Last year he won an Emmy for Bleak House, televised on PBS. And his latest work is on display on HBO in The Tsunami: The Aftermath.As a Brit, Phillips is allowed to do both hair and makeup on a production in the US. He also can easily switch between films and television. In the US, hair and makeup are strictly delineated by the craft guilds, and mutually exclusive. Different people must fulfill the two functions.Doing the makeup for veteran Peter O’Toole in Venus was both thrilling and somewhat frustrating. “If Peter had his own way, he would have done his own makeup—that’s his theatrical background,” says Phillips. “The biggest struggle with Peter was keeping this makeup off. He would constantly sneak back to his dressing room, and suddenly appear with dark eyeliner and an orange foundation, which had to be removed. He’s a tough cookie and been around for a long time—he was quite a challenge.” Phillips has trod an indirect path to his present double craft. After starting as a hairstylist, he learned technical drawing, and wound up designing the interiors for luxury yachts. He then went to the London School of Fashion, hoping to get into the beauty and fashion field. But he wound up with the BBC in its television drama division when a job offer came through the transom, leading to his subsequent career. Currently, he’s working on a project about Muslim suicide bombers with director Peter Kominsky.2006: Nominated, British Independent Film Award for best technical achievement, The Queen; Won, Emmy for outstanding makeup for a miniseries or special, Bleak House.

Written by Jack Egan

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