Behind-the-scenes beauty: Black Swan
Makeup artists Margie Durand and Judy Chin discuss the dramatic makeup looks they created for Black Swan.

EC: When you are working on a film, do you collaborate with the director or costume designers to discuss the looks you want to achieve?

Margie Durand: When I begin working on a film I speak to the director and all of the creative team if possible. The director’s inspiration and vision really drives the process and I try to deliver that vision in makeup.

Judy Chin: As I read the script, I try to envision the characters, taking into account their background (age, personal history, affluence, profession). As I see the plot develop in the story, I make note of how these events might affect their appearance. I always try to find out how the actors will be dressed, as that can have a significant influence on the makeup look. How does a makeup design contribute to building a movie character?

What I’ve always loved about makeup design is its contribution to the actor’s performance. Makeup helps to create the character visually. I feel that I’ve done my job well when an actor can walk onto the set feeling like the embodiment of the character that he or he is portraying. Does the makeup have any relation to the makeup in the traditional version of the Swan Lake ballet?

JC: Not really. The ensemble dancers wear what might be considered a traditional theatrical eye makeup, but our rendition is more dramatic. It’s practically an opera makeup. Besides that, the only other relation might be that we did portray the Black Swan as a sinister dark foil to the more angelic and innocent Swan Queen. The ballerinas’ performance makeup in the movie is especially dark and dramatic. What was your inspiration?

JC: The look was inspired by the story, and by the director, Darren Aronofsky. I felt that he was looking for something dramatic and visually striking, so all of the intensity was focused in the eyes. Margie Durand realized that there were elements of our beautiful set design that should play a role in our makeup. Thus, the delicate silver branches that played across the swan’s faces came to be. The ensemble swans and the Swan Queen are delicate and romantic with a soft pink lip color, whereas the Black Swan is dark, sharp, and, angular.