Exclusive Interview with The Defenders Makeup Designer Sarit Klein

It is almost time for The Defenders to hit our screens and we are preparing for it by bringing you an exclusive interview with Sarit Klein, the makeup department head for Marvel and Netflix series. Sarit has previously worked on Nurse Jackie, When in Rome and The Smurfs.

We chatted to her about working on The Defenders, moving together all the characters from each of the shows onto one stage, the challenges of the large cast, and how Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra differs from the rest. Read what she had to say here:

I want to start with that amazing Iron Fist chest tattoo, talk me through the creation of that piece of artwork?

The tattoo was actually created by Josh Turi, but I can say that it took 27 tests and a couple of months to get it on onscreen. As well as tests on the shape, placement, size, and taking in various voices and opinions, it was a process.

Which Marvel character was your favorite to recreate onscreen? And why?

Madame Gao, because of the process. Every character has to have a hair, costume, test, we had to age her to an ageless age, we don’t know how old she is, every piece of skin has latex on it, it takes 2, we used paint.

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Each individual character had their own distinct looks, how did you bring all their worlds together while still making them stand out?

Individually the director created a beautiful palette, with each characters, as in for Daredevil it is red, for Jessica Jones it’s purple, for Luke Cage it’s yellow and Iron Fist it’s green. So at the end of each show I got some continuity pictures and created a continuity book that not only made it easier for me. Whether it was the wound marks on Daredevil or different notes on different facial hair, grooming, things like that and makeup on different characters and coming to the show prepared made it so much easier for me to start the show knowing that I’m going to have all of them together.

Sigourney Weaver’s character of Alexandra is our resident villain, how did her look differ from that of the main characters?

That was also one of my favorite characters to do. Working with Sigourney was amazing because she’s a legend, I grew up watching all of her movies so when I found out from Jeph Loeb while doing Iron Fist that I’m going to be lucky enough to do her makeup I got really excited. Sigourney and I had an hour phone conversation, we discussed what her thoughts are and then what my thoughts are and then we brought it to Marvel. All I can say is from the pictures that have been online and we just enhanced her character’s look. Sigourney, herself, doesn’t like to wear a lot of make-up, day to day, but I created more of a villain brow, a darker color, it makes her look more stern and her eyes were a little bit more darker. But that was a really nice collaboration between her and I that I thought as well. And I think she wanted just a little bit more makeup than the others because the show is more realistically themed so a lot of makeup for her make her stand out a little bit more, she had a little bit more color on her whether it was more cheeks, more lips or little bit by the eyes.

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What did you find most challenging about working on The Defenders?

There’s a few challenges, so in The Defenders, we had all the superheroes and all the superheroes have stunt people and then we have all the villains and all the villains have stunt people so at some point when everyone is together and you are shooting them all in the same day, one day I counted about 24 characters and stunts and they all had to get ready at the same time so I had to have a big strong team behind me, which I did, which came with each of the other shows but on the actual day we had to prep in advance because for instance Mike Colter’s stunt guy would change skin color, darken it to match Mike’s character’s skin, and we have Iron Fist/Danny Rand stunt guy would get a beard because his facial hair wasn’t like Finn Jones’.
So for instance if I had a night shoot I would have to get up early and get involved in the prep for the next day, the next episode, you need makeup to be approved, makeup tests involving the prosthetics and be okay doing a 12/14 hour day doing a  night shoot, getting 25 people through their makeup so that was probably the biggest challenge I’ve had. Doing night shoots is also a challenge but as department head I don’t stop working, I would go to bed at night and I would have to wake up in the morning and respond to e-mails because Netflix is in LA and they’re awake and they want to know what’s happening. It’s sort of the non-stop, I haven’t really stopped working in three and a half years. Thank god I love what I do

Is there anything in SFX make-up that you would still like to try?

I would love to actually work on the Marvel movies, it’s different because with the shows they are so fast-paced, they are nine days each episode, and there is an opportunity for more with the movies.
The Defenders will be available to stream on Netflix from August 18, 2017.
Follow Sarit Klein on Twitter and Instagram

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