6 Questions With “Orphan Black” Make-Up Artist Stephen Lynch
Orphan Black make-up artist Stephen Lynch discusses signature cosmetics, the challenge of differentiating the series’ male clones, and behind-the-scenes hijinks on Queer As Folk.
Q: Does each clone have a signature lipstick and eye shadow? How is that decided?
A: They do, absolutely. I work very closely with [star Tatiana Maslany], obviously, and she gives me a lot of rope with which to hang myself. I come up with the looks and try them out on her and generally we’re in complete agreement, I have to say. And I’ll shop those looks, try different things on her.
The funny thing is, afterward, when I was making all my notes at the end of the year, someone was asking about various products I was using. I look and it was unbelievable how many had names, just by coincidence that had something to do with each of the girls. For instance, Alison has her very “done” face, very suburban mom face on always, and I looked at the pencil, this waxy color that I’d chosen for Alison’s eyeliner, I looked and it’s called “Psychedelic Sister.” A writer couldn’t have written that! Sarah, who’s always been our outsider and our rebel, her lip gloss is called “Spite.”
Q: Did you have similar challenges with the male clones (which we’re assuming we’ll see more of in Season 3)?
A: Yes, and the male clones offered a whole different set of challenges. We can’t use cosmetics per se, the way women would, to express themselves differently, so we have to come at it from a different angle. In fact, I let the hair and the facial hair do an awful lot of the work. The only things I can do are differences in skin tone and health, maybe stubble and that sort of thing. But due to the challenges of the show’s shooting schedule even stubble is an issue, because we’ll be changing Mark into Rudy [between scenes]. So it was more difficult. As it is for the actor, for Ari. In one way, it’s easier: He doesn’t have to do accents because these brothers were raised together. But at the same time, he can’t use those as tools to help differentiate. So we had to work fairly subtly. I hope you see the differences.
Q: Which non-clone character is the most fun to do makeup for?
A: Has to be Felix. We can play with Felix, obviously, because of who he is and his own fearlessness and sense of self. The hard part this season is pulling back, because I don’t like—pardon the pun—but I don’t like to prostitute his character. Because if the script and his frame of mind doesn’t warrant it, I don’t want him to be thinking so much about what he looks like. If he’s helping his sister and stretched to the limit, I don’t think it’s appropriate to have him playing with his moisturizers. It’s just not organic to the story. When there are special occasions, he breaks out obviously, but I still want to keep it based in reality.
Q: Is there a particular look from the series that you’re especially proud of?
A: I am very proud of Helena because I think she’s never really been presented before. She started as a villain, as a completely malevolent sociopath, and she’s evolved into something else entirely, but I loved coming up with her scarification. Her wings. I loved the dichotomy that she represents, the struggle for good and evil. She’s Beelzebub at the beginning, as well as the archangel Gabriel. She’s yin and yang, all of those things, and that’s why I think she has the terrible bleached hair… That’s why we looked to religious iconography in coming up with her look…. Sometimes we’ve switched her to quite an angelic, almost Victorian face. Her eyes, her crazy eyes, her cheeks and her lips. Sometimes when she’s feeling love or lust, her face kind of blooms. She’s never meant to be seen realistically, in my mind… You will notice she changes from scene to scene to scene. She’s almost never the same. Hopefully it’s small enough not to take the viewer out of the experience, but it’s there if you look.
Q: What new looks should we keep our eyes open for in Season 3?
A: Well, there’s one… This one is going to be new, and a highly cosmeticized character. Someone who watches every red carpet event and pores over the magazines and is completely involved, personally and professionally, in the beauty industry.
Q: You also did makeup for the cultishly revered Queer as Folk. Do you have a favorite story from working on that series?
A: About five hundred stories! Some of them I can’t tell you. [Laughs] It was so loopy, and I think our producers and writers broke all the rules at that time. That was 2000, which seems like a hundred years ago in some ways. It’s interesting to see how much things have changed on television since then, because I believe we were the first show that did the sort of full-on sex… And I’ll just say that during our pilot, which shot for the whole summer, when we were doing night club scenes and sex club scenes it was falling down funny, because the instructions we were giving to extras and some background guys, very often young gay guys, were sometimes taken too literally. And we actually had to cut and say, “No, no, no. You must pretend to be doing that to the other guy.” These kids were very sweet, many of them were young, and many of them were new to the scene and so thrilled to be meeting other gay kids that they took it maybe one step too far!