When make-up artist Diane Heller first got a call from the production office of the TNT show Good Behavior, she was in the Atlanta airport awaiting a flight home after wrapping up her job keying the third installment of the Divergent series, Allegiant, in 2015. They asked if they could send her a script for the forthcoming television series, then chat about the project the following day. “I fell in love with the story,” said Heller. “I just really connected with how well it was written.”
Based on the novella series of the same name by Blake Crouch, Good Behavior was filmed in Wilmington, N.C. The story of con woman Letty (Michelle Dockery) who favors disguises, it promised plenty of opportunities for the hair and make-up team to be creative.
Heller accepted the job as the show’s make-up designer/department head, and she was joined by hair designer/department head Diane Dixon, whom she had worked with in the past. “[Executive Producer] Chad Hodge was very adamant about having a female hair and make-up team,” said Heller, “because he really felt that only women would really understand how a woman would do all of those little things that would change who she [Letty] was.”
There wasn’t time to do much in the way of make-up testing. “Our actress Michelle had worked every episode every day,” Heller explained, “and what ended up happening is we never had a day to test. So the day of shooting is when we had to execute our looks, and we just had to ride by the seat of our pants hoping that it worked. And fortunately, we had such a great executive producer who really entrusted myself and the hairdresser to really just do what we thought was best, and they were happy, so it was a good thing!”
The storyline for each episode played a large part in coming up with the disguise looks for Dockery’s character. For Heller, a scene where she used dark teal Giorgio Armani Eye Tint Eyeshadow in Emeraude, black eye liner and a vibrant fuchsia lipstick comes to mind. “She was going back to her high school reunion,” Heller explains. “She was telling people that she had an apartment in New York … so she’s trying to convince these people that she’s a very successful person, and the way to pull that off is to pull herself together and look like she just rolled out of the fashion pages of Vogue or Vanity Fair or something.”
The show didn’t call for much in the way of special make-up effects. “There were times when we had to do bullet wounds, scratches, a little bit of blood from like a murder or something, but it wasn’t anything extensive,” Heller explains. “We had to do tattoos. We spray tanned two of the actors. … We did do a lot of body make-up and such on [Dockery] when we did different looks. You know, when she would be wearing dresses without hose, or if her arms were exposed, we would use Make Up For Ever Face & Body make-up on her.”
One of the more extensive make-up processes required hand-painting Dockery’s dark eyebrows two or three hairs at a time to match lighter-colored wigs. “So we would use Skin Illustrator products,” explains Heller. “For the red wig the color was Burnt Sienna. When she wears the blond wig, it was so difficult because her eyebrows are so dark, so I then had to do something where I tried to cut down the darkness, so I used the Skin Illustrator Ochre color and then the Soft Beige mixed in with it. … And I would use the colors with the Slow Activator, which gives you a longer setting time, because the regular activator is like 99-percent alcohol and it absorbs so quickly, and I needed as much working time as possible without it drying out on me.”
Most episodes required multiple looks, making it a challenge for the make-up team to not go overtime. “So it was working extensively with the assistant directors and really being able to say, ‘Look, it’s easier for us to shoot doing the make-up this way, or do the scene without the wig first then doing the scene with the wig if that cuts our time down.’” Heller explains. “They all knew that these make-up and wig changes were an hour-and-a-half change.”
This week the show was renewed for a second season. Aside from loving the work—Heller is a genuine fan of the show. “There’s some really, really, really wonderful thoughts and ideas and storylines, and you really get to empathize with someone when you’re like, how can I really feel connected to this girl who’s a drug addict? But you empathize with her and you feel for her and you’re rooting for her. … And that’s what I think is so special about this show, too, is people start to see different pieces of personalities, and it helps you be a better person out in the world, and that’s a good thing.”
Look for full Beauty Breakdowns of Letty’s disguise looks in the forthcoming Issue 125 of Make-Up Artist magazine.