The tragic tale of three orphans is back, and as the trailer points out, even “worse” than the first season. The make-up artists on Season Two of A Series of Unfortunate Events, which first aired March 30, worked to maintain continuity and capture the magic and flow of Season One. While make-ups like Neil Patrick Harris’ Olaf were already established, his latest disguises were totally new, as were a number of characters introduced in Season Two. This gave the make-up artists something different to play with and new characters to develop.
“Season One really set the tone for the show, which we carried over into Two and Three,” explains make-up department head Rita Ciccozzi. “Olaf and his troupe continued their disguises in Season Two, and a stream of new characters came on. The show has a specific color palette and style that we have kept for the entire run. We made up lip palettes, foundation colors, dirts and character palettes that we had everyone using so no matter whom you were doing you stayed in the color palette of the show.”
Of Season Two, special make-up effects designer Bill Terezakis says that they were all used to the visual style of director and executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld’s vision and they were “all aware of the quirkiness at the helm.”
Season Two covers five of the 13 books written by Danial Handler under the pen name Lemony Snicket. The second season adapts five books in all: The Austere Academy, The Esratz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital and The Carnivorous Carnival.
The make-up team lost the talents of Maiko Gomyo and Vicki Syskakis for Season Two, who applied Harris’ prosthetics during the first season. So Terezakis was tasked with finding new artists up for the challenge. He found two such women: Caitlin Groves and Bree-Anna Lehto, who proved to be the “dream team” as Harris described them, according to Terezakis—who also says of the women: “I’m extremely proud and grateful of what these two ladies were able to achieve in taking what was established, and pushing it further.”
Groves (key make-up artist) recalls that it was important to listen to the previous artists. Elaborating she says: “They had to do a lot of the initial troubleshooting and had great tips for efficiency as well as what might need the most attention throughout the day.”
There were challenges about coming onto a show with looks created by other artists. However, Groves says the most challenging part was knowing when and how to adjust Harris’ skin to balance changing light and backgrounds. She explains, “Often throughout the day we would have to adjust the color of his forehead to accommodate bounce from green screen or the darkness of a dirty school kitchen, etcetera.”
The make-ups in Season Two capture the magic of Season One while transforming the shape and flow of the show. The transformation came in working with the wide time range and the numerous options for character make-up in the Lemony Snicket universe. And the entire make-up team, Terezakis says, showed enthusiasm for each and every make-up design on the series. And no matter the role, whether it be a principal or extra, each was treated as a unique character with personality.
The make-up in Season Two elaborates on the universe in the books and takes full advantage of this visual medium. There was a certain amount of creative freedom given to the make-up artists that really allowed them to explore and develop the characters.
“There is a lot of prep and design work on this show,” says Ciccozzi. “Though we are a period looking show we don’t stick to one period. We range through 1920s to 1970s but can mix it up where we may have a different era for hair, a different era for make-up and a different era for wardrobe on the same person. I would do a lot of research on line, tear sheets, drawings, book references, Photoshop. I had an art book and every character had a section. It was a collage of ideas and through meetings with Barry Sonnenfeld (directed four of the eight episodes in Season One) we would come up with the final design to test. So much fun, so many possibilities.”
The make-up team started Season Two with Dark Avenue where Olaf’s disguise was Gunther, an ode to Karl Lagerfeld, and they introduced Esmé and Jerome Squalor played by Lucy Punch and Tony Hale. The look was very high end and polished. “I just loved how the characters evolved as the books progressed,” says Ciccozzi. “By the time we got to the Carnivorous Carnival, which is my favorite for make-up along with Dark Avenue, we were in a really sinister place and the look of that book was very raw, shabby and crude.”
Early in pre-production was when most of the ideas for the looks were sussed out. Terezakis sat down with Sonnenfeld, production designer Bo Welsh and producer Rose Lam to discuss the many characters that Harris would take on as Count Olaf throughout the season. Among the more involved disguises were that of Coach Genghis, Günther and Detective Dupin.
“What I enjoy most about working with Barry,” says Terezakis, “is the freedom he gives me to present him with my thoughts on each of the character’s looks. This I would do in Photoshop over the top of Neil’s or whomever’s face and would present them in our prosthetics meetings.”
During the design phase, Terezakis would also connect with Harris and get his thoughts on the characters as well, in order to aid in the designs. Terezakis asked things like: “What voice are you thinking of using? What’s the energy of the character? The body language? Where did he get the disguise elements from? etcetera.” All this information, he says, would help with the design process.
Overall, the show was fast paced, grueling and incorporated a number of big make-ups, explains Ciccozzi. Despite the intensity and amount of work, she says, “Everyone showed up happy to be here,” she continues. “When people are happy at their job it shows in their work, and I think that’s evident in the look of the show. Many of our guest stars paid us high compliments by telling us that our trailer was their favorite hair and make-up trailer. And even better, that their character’s look was the favorite of their career. After hearing that several times it just solidifies the fact that we are on the right path.”
Catch up on the make-ups in Season One by reading our article in Issue 125.