Veteran makeup artist Jeremy Woodhead faced a major hurdle in designing the makeup and hairstyles for the film Judy, about a particular time in the life of legendary singer and actress Judy Garland.
To depict Garland at age 46 going on 47 in the film’s setting of winter of 1968 going into 1969, Woodhead had to work closely with star Renée Zellweger.
“The two of them are very different,” Woodhead described of Garland and Zellweger. “Very few similarities. I had to take as much of Renée out of Renée’s face and put in as much Judy as I could.”
Unlike some projects which rely on heavy prosthetics to create likeness makeups, in Judy, Woodhead chose to use minimal prosthetic appliances.
“We pared it down to what we ended up with — very small in the prosthetic area,” Woodhead unveiled. “Just a nose tip to bring the end of it up a bit; that was it. We have teeth and lenses.”
In lieu of heavy prosthetics, the bulk of Woodhead’s work was realized by painting Zellweger’s face, plus utilizing a prominent wig to transforms the actress. “We fell upon a generic Judy look,” Woodhead revealed of the wig. “In life, she played with her hair a lot. We didn’t want to go down that route.”
Instead, Woodhead implemented the upswept look of the character’s hair throughout the film, a visage which might not be immediately familiar to Garland’s adoring fans. In point, the wig was made by Natascha Ladek in Los Angeles in a mid-brown tone. “I had to color it down to the dark brown that Judy had, and cut it into that style,” stated Woodhead.
Contact lenses were made by The Reel Eye Company in London, where production was headquartered. “The lenses were slightly bigger than Renée’s iris,” Woodhead detailed. “Judy had big eyes, and Renée’s eyes are quite small.”
Zellweger’s teeth appliances were made by Chris Lyons at Fangs FX in England. “We experimented a lot with those because their jaw shapes were quite different,” noted Woodhead of Garland and Zellweger. “We ended up with oversize teeth. It wasn’t literal, but we didn’t want the teeth to be distracting—believable, but not draw attention.”
Originally, to complete Zellweger’s look, Woodhead incorporated prosthetic cheek appliances to build Renée’s face out to Garland’s diamond facial shape, but the appliances were eventually discarded.
“They were presenting as many problems as they solved,” Woodhead confessed, noting that the prosthetic cheeks were interfering with Zellweger’s performance—instead, the actress relied on her facial expressions and positions to suggest Garland. “[Not using the cheek pieces] allowed Renée to work her magic. She’s so clever—tiny nuanced emotions.”
Elaborating on the decision to reject the larger appliances, Woodhead divulged one reality with prosthetic makeup work. “It’s always easier to put prosthetics on men than it is on women,” he explained. “Having tried them, we knew it was a good decision to abandon it and go for something more subtle.”
To apply Zellweger’s makeup and easily-fitting wig took slightly less than an hour-and-a-half, a necessity on a tight six-week shooting schedule. “We had to get Renée on and let her do her work,” said Woodhead. “ It was a low budget and didn’t have the luxury of [a long] schedule. We were tied in to locations—some for just a day at a time. We had to maximize the amount of time Renée could perform.”
In doing his painting of Zellweger’s face, Woodhead had a mandate going forward. “I wanted Renée as Judy to look like she had makeup on,” he conveyed. “I wanted to build character into Renée’s face. Judy didn’t look after herself—she had lines, gaining and losing weight. I had to build in that slightly ravaged look into Renée.”
In his daily makeup application, Woodhead created a Judy Garland using 25 years of feature film experience and his expert techniques.
“I changed her lip line and jaw line to look like the jowls had dropped a bit,” he said. “Painting, shading, bags, and whatever I could find in Renée’s face, having lived a hard life. I wanted to look like Judy who wouldn’t have walked out of the house without makeup on—makeup I wanted to be seen—and built into Renée’s face—and not look like makeup. It was a great fun job to do, to get into an area where people would believe it was Judy and not Renée.”
For a prologue set in 1938, Woodhead created a period look for a young Garland with actress Darci Shaw, using lenses and hair. In that sequence, to portray MGM Studios chief Louis B. Mayer, Woodhead had a nose fashioned for actor Richard Cordery and gave him a toupee.
“There was plenty of pictorial reference for all of them,” said Woodhead. “It was a great opportunity to see how far we could push it. Rufus Sewell who played Sid Luft [wore] a partial baldcap to change his hairline. For John Dagleish, who played Lonnie Donegan, we had to wig him.”
During the run of the show, Woodhead had only three additional artists on his team to do all principal makeups. Alas, in the end, he felt fully satisfied with the work. “The joy for me is that if Renée was happy, I was happy,” he said. “She’s a perfectionist, and rightly so. To see her coming off the bus as Renée and leaving as Judy, if she could work her magic, I felt that we got it right.”