One of the most important elements of a good film, is good make-up, just ask Angie Wells who ran the makeup department for "Mudbound," a film adaptation of Hillary Jordan's novel about racial disparity in 1940s Mississippi.
With an ensemble cast that includes Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund and Mary J. Blige, the film is set in the South and follows two farming families, one white, the other black who are pitted against one another by a ruthless social hierarchy, but bound together by the shared farmland of the Mississippi Delta.
To bring alive the palpable sheen of dirt and sweat that coats the faces of the cast, Wells, who has a passion for period makeup, did a lot photographic research to learn about trends of the time period and figure out how to make the female characters appear natural. Battling the Southern heat and humidity was a challenge and she used a lot of cream based products for the actors.
Angie Wells and Mary J Blige
“I knew the movie had to look raw and real, and I had to do things like mixing mascara to give definition around the eye. There were freckles for Carey’s character and liquid makeup for her foundation and as Florence's look — which is zero glam — is not something Mary normally pulls off, it was interesting to get her onboard with all the zero-glam. She really got into it and owned it," says Wells who also had to resort to using adhesive to keep Garrett Hedlund's mustache firmly intact.
“When it's humid and there's so much water involved, it's tough to get adhesive to stay on — it required babysitting," she says. "It wasn't possible for Garrett to grow a natural mustache for the movie because we didn't shoot in that order, and it wasn't a long shoot, so we used lace hairpieces. We were constantly running after him on set to make sure his mustache didn't fall off in the rain and humidity," adds the makeup connoisseur who has worked on over 50 feature films and 25 television series from "Soul Food," to "The Artist,” “The Aviator” to "Thor," and runs the makeup department for the ABC hit show television show "Black-ish."
Director Dee and Mary
Wells first made a name for herself on John Singleton’s 2001 film “Baby Boy” where she worked with Taraji Henson and earned her first Emmy nomination for the television film “Gifted Hands” in 2011, following a year later with a second nomination as part of the makeup team for the hit show “Mad Men.” With work on big-budget blockbusters as well as low-budget dramas, she has one of the most well-rounded resumes in Hollywood.
“There are things I get calls for that I turn down,” she admits. “If I have to be somewhere for 16 hours a day, I want to enjoy what I am doing and it has to speak to me and has to be something I feel is worthwhile. It could be something that makes me laugh like ‘Black-ish’ or something that really makes me think like ‘Mudbound.”
Directed by Dee Rees, ‘Mudbound” releases in theaters and on Netflix November 17
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