Movie Makeup: The Runaways
How Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning got transformed into rock legends
Photo: Courtesy of Apparition
The Runaways chronicles the rise and fall of the legendary all-girl rock band fronted by Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. Featuring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning in the title roles, the film is based in part on Currie’s autobiography, Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story, and executive-produced by Jett. “Because of the involvement of the real people in the movie, it was really important to me to get the look right,” says Robin Matthews, the movie’s makeup artist. Here, Matthews reveals how she transformed Stewart (Jett) and Fanning (Currie) into rock legends.
How did you prepare for the movie?
When I came onto the project, I had just finished shooting New Moon with Kristen in Italy. So I came to The Runaways with about a week’s worth of prep before we started shooting, which isn’t a lot of time when you’re recreating real people. But luckily the director had a ton of photos already. And then my assistant and I went to the library to gather as much photographic and video materials as possible—yearbooks from the time period, makeup ads from old magazines. Between the director’s photos and ours I think we gathered about 5,000 pictures.
What also helped me prepare was having Joan Jett and Cherie Currie around—I was so lucky that I could ask them questions. They were on the set every single day. The first thing Joan would do when she’d come in every morning was come to the makeup trailer and hang out while I did Kristen’s makeup. There’s a big sofa right by my station and she’d just sit there for a bit in case we needed anything, listening to her iPod or playing her guitar.
What was the makeup like during the Runaways’ era?
It was such a great time back then—the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. It was just a mesh of disco and punk. Punk rock was just starting, so that heavy eyeliner look was becoming popular. And it kind of went into glam rock, which was very glittery and extravagant—tons of colors were used. David Bowie had a huge influence on Cherie Currie, and he used to paint his face all these crazy ways—he’d cover his face and eyebrows with white. Currie recreated a lot of those looks on herself in the early days.
The Runaways started off just playing around with their eye makeup, but during their superglam period they did eye makeup, blush, and lipstick—all three at once. And then toward the end they just went back to their original look. The band was around for four years, and you’ll see in the photos of the real band that they did away with everything except for the eyes. I specifically asked Joan and Cherie about that—because you see the lipstick and blush for a brief moment in the photos. Joan said she didn’t remember wearing lipstick very often, and Cherie said she used to use those clear glosses in the glass tube with the roller top that smelled like strawberry or cherry.
How does Joan’s makeup look transform in the movie?
Going off the pictures, she initially just used a brown eye shadow and that was it. Then that morphed into a smoky eye with brown eye shadow and black liner. She added blush and lipstick to it during her glam phase but eventually went through more of a punk stage where it was just harsh black liner everywhere. At the end of the film, we show Joan in the ’80s, where she really went into pinks—she’d wear a bright pink jacket with bright fuchsia lips and a pink-and-purple smoky eye. But that look was created mostly for promotional photos; once those promotional days were over, she went back to her basic black liner and brown shadow without any lip color or blush. And that’s the same makeup look she wears today.
How does Cherie’s makeup change over the course of the movie?
We did about 10 or so different makeup looks for Cherie. She was so all over the place with her makeup that I had plenty of choices to pick from. I sat down with the director and Dakota and we chose which looks we wanted to use because there were so many. Cherie was a real shapeshifter with her makeup. She did this brown winged eye shadow for awhile, and then she did this crazy silver shadow with glitter and thick black eyeliner with bright striped cheeks. She also did a blue-and-gold smoky eye which is really cool—I would’ve never thought to use those two colors for a smoky eye.
Toward the end of the film, we really see Dakota’s look change as Cherie gets more and more haggard and tired. It’s a big, shocking look—very different from how Dakota Fanning has appeared in other films. So I’m waiting with bated breath to hear what people think because it’s a shocker. I can’t give away too much, but if you know about the demise of the Runaways, you’ll understand why Dakota looks the way she does at the end of the movie.
What’s your favorite Cherie/Dakota look from the film?
My favorite is the silver glitter eye. I made a paste out of silver Make Up For Ever Star Powder, silver glitter, and Make Up For Ever Eye Seal and shellacked it all over Dakota’s eye. She looked like a disco ball, and it was tough to get off! But that was one of Cherie’s real concert looks. And that’s how Cherie was in real life—sparkly and glittery.
Was there a universal product that you used on everybody?
Since the Runaways were all about accentuating their eyes, eyeliner was the most-used product. I went back and forth between different eyeliners, depending on what the scene was. The main one I used was Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes. The color range is crazy—most waterproof, smudge-proof eyeliners don’t come with the extensive color range. They have bright blues and silvers, which worked great for Cherie’s look. For the scenes where I needed the makeup to stay put, I’d apply that and smudge it quickly—because once it dries it doesn’t move. For other scenes, though, I needed the eye makeup to be really runny, like the band had been on the road for days—because this movie is about realism, it’s not a glossed-over Hollywood beauty movie. So in those cases, I’d use this kohl eye pencil by M.A.C that’s really smudgy and moves around a bit more.
How were the Runaways’ makeup techniques different from today’s?
They would actually hold up a piece of paper to their skin and put their blush on against the paper to make the harsh line; this is how they brought out the cheekbone and accentuated it. And funnily enough, back in the ’70s they didn’t line the inner rim—you’ll see all these photos of the Runaways with smoky eyes but they only lined underneath the eye, not along the water line. Joan does that now, I think, but she didn’t back then.
The Runaways didn’t have professional makeup artists on tour with them—they were a rock band struggling to make it, traveling around in the back of a station wagon. For magazine photo shoots they’d have makeup artists do their makeup—and I think that’s where some of the images of them wearing lipstick and blush come in. But for the most part, they came up with all of these cool looks on their own, which is amazing.Digg It!
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