Pat McGrath on Rooney Mara's Makeup in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

21 December 2011

Pat McGrath on Rooney Mara's Makeup in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

The frenzy of suspense surrounding Swedish novel 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is reaching fever pitch with the US film adaption arriving on 26th December. EEEP. With a whole host of big names involved (hello Daniel Craig) and our girl crush on Rooney Mara, as well as her 'side-driff' style, rapidly building, we're super excited. To add to our excitement, Grazia fave and backstage hero Pat McGrath designed more than twenty beauty looks for the film to turn Mara’s soft features into those of a cool and calculating computer hacker. Can things possibly get any better? Well, yes because the lovely Pat has been chatting to about her time working on the movie. So enjoy these sound bites, beauty fans, and get that black eyeliner at the ready...

On doing makeup for movies: This was my first movie. I’ve always wanted to do movies, and to start with David is amazing. It was all completely new.

On her initial musings: The moment I heard that Rooney got the part, I thought, wow, the hair has to be short and we have to bleach the brows. As soon as I saw her bone structure and her skin, I knew that I could take her look in so many different directions.

On the books: I immersed myself in the books for three weeks. I did a lot of talking and e-mailing with David about how Lisbeth should look, I went through punk archives, and just watched kids on the street. The goal was to be as authentic and real to the character as possible.

On making Mara scary: I told David, once we bleach her brows and dye her hair black, you’ll see—she’ll look threatening and otherworldly. She’ll become this dark, androgynous, and mysterious loner. And after the brows, I thought, oh my gosh, yes. The final look is very striking.

On keeping it authentic: It had to look like Lisbeth did the makeup herself…If you’re this ultra-tomboy, you’re not comfortable getting the perfect face in the mirror, right? …We kept the skin really clean and raw and focused on shaping the eyes.

On those smoky eyes: We came up with about 200 different versions of this reddish smoky eye with many different dimensions. The trick was to take black and brown eye colors and add a tiny drop of red—that created a look that was vulnerable but hard and strong.

On raw skin: There was no foundation. I wanted her skin to be translucent and for it to change color in the cold. In fact, the most beautiful scene is when she was actually very cold.If you have perfect skin, it’s better not to see products. And I thought, why would this girl spend five hours putting on makeup? That wouldn’t track with the character. Also, Rooney’s got beautiful skin. So I just massaged my Olay Regenerist Deep Hydrating Regenerating Cream and SKII LXP Ultimate Revival Cream into the skin, so I could see the areas where it would get red. Then I did a tiny bit of contouring around the eyes and cheeks with Dolce & Gabbana The Makeup Blush in Tan.

On Rooney’s love of makeup:  She really enjoyed it, the whole process. She was a real joy to work with. She handled the piercings, shaving her hair short—she just embraced the character. And she loved all the makeup, from the natural to weird to the beautiful. She really became that character. In the end, we created 26 different versions of Lisbeth for all three of the films.

On future films: There have been a couple of offers, so yes. But let’s see what happens after we have some meetings! I think it would be so inspiring to work on more films, and to create many more faces.

by Rose Beer


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