Rocky Faulkner and team worked with the family behind the onscreen characters.
Sometimes a project comes along that impacts the production team in a way that reaches far beyond the work of putting it on film. The recent TNT miniseries I Am the Night has deep meaning for make-up department head Rocky Faulkner and the family connected to the lives depicted in it.
I Am the Night—created by Sam Sheridan, directed by Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) and starring Chris Pine and India Eisley—tells the incredible story of Fauna Hodel (played by Eisley). Inspired by true events and the real Fauna Hodel’s memoir, One Day She’ll Darken, the series follows a teenage Hodel in the 1960s as she heads to Los Angeles to discover her roots. She meets disgraced reporter Jay Singletary (Pine), and their journey leads them to the center of the notorious Black Dahlia murder.
Here, Faulkner discusses what it took to bring this story to life, and Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile, Hodel’s daughters, share their experience.
Make-Up Artist magazine: How did this TNT project come to you?
Rocky Faulkner: My great friend Toni G graciously called me up as she thought I would be a great fit for the project and working with this cast.
MA: Because this project is based on Fauna Hodel’s memoir and real people and events, what kind of access did you have to actual photos? What years did you have to cover?
RF: Well early on we just gathered what we could find online and what Patty Jenkins had gotten from the family in her friendship with the real Fauna Hodel.
MA: When it came to the make-up and hairstyles of India Eisley playing your mother, what kind of input did you have?
Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile: By the time we got to set, Patty, Sam and Rocky had literally transformed India into our beautiful mother. India brought Mom back to life for us in every way. When we walked into the make-up trailer, and into Rocky’s office, we were surrounded by photos of Mom all over the wall, and he replicated Mom’s beauty in India. Rocky is such an amazing artist. He is a perfectionist, even carefully placing each freckle that Mom had onto India’s face. It was fascinating to see the details come to life with Rocky’s vision of who our Mom was.
MA: What was it like to have Fauna’s daughters on the set and even acting as extras?
RF: It was amazing—they both are such amazing women, and they honesty lightened up set everyday with their amazing smiles and attitudes. They were always shipping us photos of their mom and giving us little inside scoops of the family history.
MA: What were some key elements you hoped the make-up and hair teams evoked of your mother and the key people depicted in the miniseries?
RP and YG: Keeping her as classically beautiful as possible was so poignant in what Rocky, Denise, Toni, Annie and Kevin brought to the table. Our Mom was beautiful inside and out, and they helped to make that shine in India. India’s make-up evolved as her character evolved, because she became such a strong woman (and not just a naive teenager) in such a short time throughout the series. The team stayed so true to who Jimmie Lee was, and made Golden Brooks [the actress playing her] look so beautiful despite her inner turmoil. Watching Rocky literally beat Chris up with all of his bloody make-up was a work of art!
MA: Rocky, what specific products and techniques did you use to evoke the era?
RF: Really it’s just always lots of color research, pulling real photos from 1940 to ’65 and not just magazine ads, so we could see how people really looked and dressed back then. Just because the show is sent in the ’60s doesn’t mean everyone is necessarily in ’60s make-up, as some characters are still living in the ’50s, and I think that’s what people forget. My grandmother was still wearing her favorite lip color from the ’60s in the ’90s haha.
MA: Rasha and Yvette, what was it like to be made up yourself to be an extra in the production?
RP and YG: It was so surreal! Patty really wanted us to be on camera, and she personally hand-picked/approved the make-up and costumes for us. She wanted to make sure we were happy and loved the way we looked. Yvette was fangirling because Toni G did her make-up on set. Toni is an award-winning artist, most notably Angelina Jolie’s personal make-up artist, and made Yvette feel like a true movie star! Annie and Rocky worked on Rasha’s make-up, bringing her from 2017 to the 1960s with the utmost of flair.
MA: Rocky, what challenges did you have in filming?
RF: Well besides the period aspect of the film and trying to keep that as realistic and accurate as possible, we also had to warm up India Eisley’s skin tone several shades and spatter freckles on her nose and cheeks every day. So that was a lot of work and usually took two make-up artists to do. Also, Chris Pine also went through several phases of injury make-up and being the wise guy in the movie, just as he was healing from one encounter he would get beat up again.
MA: It looks like the production filmed in several cities, including Oahu. How did you maintain continuity in looks with such a variety of conditions?
RF: I was on the show from day one thankfully so that helps, but it doesn’t mean that hiccups don’t occur. Oahu was the hardest due to the heat and humidity and also everyone enjoying the sun and wanting to be outside and get a tan. India was the hardest to maintain being in full-body make-up and having to have freckles delicately airbrushed on her every day. One accidental rub of the face and poof they were gone haha. Thankfully she was so aware and respectful of the make-up.
MA: How did you create the tattoos for Chris Pine’s character?
RF: I go to this amazing tattoo shop in Long Beach that my friend owns and it’s more of a museum really—it’s the oldest continuously operated tattoo shop in the United States and the second oldest in the world. So, all over the walls they have these amazing old military port tattoos. They were old acetate etchings that they would rub graphite into and transfer onto the sailors’ skin to transfer the designs. So, it was a huge inspiration, so I bought several images back to Chris Pine and said show me what you like and then I made a few changes and redrew them from him.
MA: What were some of your favorite looks you created for this?
RF: India’s look really is my favorite not just because of the make-up but because of working with such a talented performer who would sit daily for an hour of body make-up and never complain, always help out and be a positive driving force for the start of the filming day. Also because we pulled it off. I’ve talked with her several times after filming where she has said that people have come up to her and asked her why she is so pale or what happened to her freckles, haha. People not knowing it was make-up is always the biggest compliment.
MA: Who were the key people on your team?
RF: I could give you a list of about 30 amazing 706 make-up artists that came out to help on this show who I consider all key people in making this show come together, but the daily core team was Toni G, Denise Paulson, Annie Cardea, Kevin Haney and Adina Sullivan running background.
MA: In life we’re always learning. What did you learn on this project that helped you with your job?
RF: Patience, haha, that’s really all I can say. You have to learn to be patient in life and stop to enjoy life and all of these amazing opportunities.
MA: What does it mean to you to work on a project like this?
RF: More than the project itself but to have an amazing artist like Toni G, whose work I’ve looked up to since first starting in this business, refer me to an amazing job like this—I mean that means the world to me.
MA: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience working with Rocky Faulkner and the rest of the make-up/hair team?
RP and YG: Hands down, we had the absolute BEST TEAM in the world working on our mother’s life story! Watching Rocky bring his craft to life was awe inspiring, and you could see his passion shine through in each of the make-up artists that he brought to the production. We were on set just a few weeks after our beautiful mother had passed away from breast cancer and seeing the artistry from these amazing humans brought our Mom back to life for us. They got every detail exactly right. It was such a surreal experience to watch, to be a part of, and their talent inspired us every single moment! Rocky and his team deserve all of the Emmys, all of the awards and all of the things!
Return to makeupmag.com July 16 to see which productions receive Emmy nominations for make-up and hair. To learn more about the Hodel family and the Black Dahlia, listen to the podcast Root of Evil, hosted by Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile.