Working on a popular drama starring a large cast of beautiful actors may seem like an easy job for a makeup artist. But when that show also needs to reflect the less-than-glamorous lives of surgical interns, as found on ABC’s hit drama Grey’s Anatomy, things get a little more complicated.“The challenge of the show is to keep everyone pretty good-looking most of the time, even though they’re supposed to have been up for 24 hours and saving lives,” says makeup artist Norman T. Leavitt, who is nominated in both the non-prosthetic and the prosthetic categories for his work on episodes “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Yesterday,” respectively.And then there are the medical conditions—messy and clean, common and obscure—that require makeup that looks good and is medically accurate.“On a daily basis I’m doing cuts and bruises and bullet wounds and all kinds of hematomas and all that kind of good stuff,” says Leavitt. “It’s more interesting than working on another type of show where you’re just doing regular makeups.”A veteran of hospital drama Chicago Hope, Leavitt is comfortable with medical makeup and he can rely on medical supervisor and executive producer Linda Klein when he needs to.Leavitt says his work on the show requires some interesting medical re-creations in addition to working on the 12 regular cast members and as many as four guest actors. He credits his crew with making the tight nine- and 10-day shoots possible and he shares both nominations with Brigitte Bugayong and longtime collaborators Tom Burman and Bari Dreiband-Burman.In “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” a character played by guest star Timothy Bottoms had problems with a skin graft onto which that the doctors place leeches to revive the blood flow. “That was an out-of-case—as opposed to a prosthetic—thing,” Leavitt says. “We used a flexible acrylic, mixed it up and applied that to his nose and ears.” The makeup was colored and airbrushed to look realistic.That episode also had makeup for another guest actor, Rosanna Arquette, on whom Leavitt and his team applied washes to make her look tired.On “Yesterday,” the major challenge was creating prosthetics for a patient who had a disease that deformed his face and bones to make him look like a lion. Leavitt says they did a head cast and multiple sketches of what it should look like. Burman then created the silicone prosthetic, which was airbrushed and had hairs punched in. “Tom did a really beautiful job,” Leavitt says.1996: Nominated for Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Makeup in a Series for Chicago Hope.
Written by Tom McLean