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'Hitchcock' shows Julie Hewett's many faces

Working Hollywood: Late 1950s-early '60s looks created by the makeup specialist are on display in the film about the director of 'Psycho.'

November 24, 2012|By Cristy Lytal
  • Anthony Hopkins plays Alfred Hitchcock in "Hitchcock."
Anthony Hopkins plays Alfred Hitchcock in "Hitchcock." (Suzanne Tenner / 20th Century…)

Julie Hewett, makeup department head for "Hitchcock," can take 50 years off any face. And that's precisely what she did when she created 1959-to-'61-era looks for Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Helen Mirren and more than 200 extras in the film, released by Fox Searchlight, that explores the relationship between Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, during the "Psycho" shoot.

Raised in Pacific Palisades, Hewett, 56, grew up watching classic movies. Her father, a child psychologist, would tell her how as a little boy he used to stand outside Paramount Studios with this autograph book, waiting for Bette Davis and other golden age stars. He also gave his daughter the book "Four Fabulous Faces," featuring Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich.

Hewett drew inspiration from "those faces and how they're painted," she said. "The arch of the brow and the shape of the mouth was representative for each period. Great artists did those faces. So period makeup is a love."

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Hewett dreamed of being a fashion designer like Coco Chanel, so she attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles and Parsons School of Design in New York. In the 1980s, she opened a fashion design studio on Melrose Avenue. When photographers would take her clothes to shoots, she would volunteer to do the makeup — and quickly found her calling.

She began doing makeup for cosmetics companies and on small independent films, including 1987's "The Whales of August," starring Davis, Lillian Gish and Vincent Price. She worked on such movies as "Heathers," "The Grifters," "American Beauty," "Ocean's Eleven" and its sequels, and last year's Academy Awards best picture, "The Artist." It was on the set of "Pearl Harbor" that she decided to start her own makeup line, which includes classic red lipsticks in vintage-inspired gold cases.

"I realize that in every movie that I ever do, someone has a pair of red lips," she said. "I've been so influenced by that old glamour."

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Ever so archly: Hewett's mantra for "Hitchcock" was simple: It's all about the brows. "This period — '50s, early '60s — is a brow period," she said. "And even James D'Arcy, who plays Tony Perkins, it's all about his brows too. It was the opposite on 'The Artist,' where I was plucking all the brows."

Reveling in Revlon: Hewett also researched the makeup colors of the period. "There was a Revlon color called Revlon 638," she said. "And there was Fire & Ice by Revlon. Fire & Ice was released in 1959; it's still sold at CVS today. It's a real blue red. There's a scene with Helen Mirren, and she's wearing a nude, fleshy-colored dress. And I just put Fire & Ice on and called it a day."

Sunshine state: Hitchcock's wife was the outdoors type. "She liked to swim every day, and there are scenes where she's at the beach," said Hewett. "So we came up with the idea of making Helen tan. And we copied Alma's eyebrows and tried to make the makeup very much like her. Helen wears my Oona Noir. That's a sheer color for people who don't think they can wear red."

Scarlett's red: Janet Leigh, who played Marion Crane in "Psycho," loved red lipstick. "So when Scarlett was Janet Leigh, I put her in red lipstick," said Hewett. "Scarlett's lips are so amazing. You don't have to line them or do anything. Scarlett wears my Belle Noir. Belle is a real '50s, '60s orange red. There's this beautiful scene in the movie where she's in the car as Janet Leigh, and she's got her red lipstick on. But when she was playing the character [in 'Psycho'], I made it softer."

Something extra: For a scene that took place at the "Psycho" premiere, more than 200 extras needed period makeup. "We must have had at least 12 to 15 makeup artists," Hewett said. "We provide them with lip palettes [of specific lipstick colors], so they know that this is the palette that we're going for in the film. And they're in at 4 in the morning, so it gets processed pretty fast, in about five hours."

Picture this: For inspiration, Hewett assembled big photo boards of period looks. "Some of the great English lines, like Yardley, Mary Quant and Biba — those are my inspirations," she said. "And our makeup trailer was literally wallpapered with black-and-white photos from 'Psycho.'"

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