Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PART II: LOST, Behind The Scenes

Thank you for returning to learn more about the process that was going on behind the scenes of Episode #13, "Some Like It Hoth." We left off with me having just gotten the script and heading into a make-up and hair test session.

The make-up and hair/wig test was an interesting journey in itself. First, I sat in the chair as the Master Hair Department Head, Doreen Schultz Marchetti, and her assistant, Debra Rego, worked to wet my hair and put a kind of laquer in it to get it as flat against my head as possible. It required some elbow grease. Once all the hair was contained and as flat against my head as humanly possible, a skull cap/skin was carefully applied. I looked like Veeger from the past Star Trek movie.

Then, the Master Make-up Department Head, Steve LaPorte, began to utilize a range of color to stiple my head/skull cap to make it appear like the skull of ill Lara Chang. After this step was completed, the very delicate process of applying the wig was next. Adhesive solutions were tried to find the right combination so the wig wouldn't pucker or gap. The reaction of the skull cap material was also monitored to make sure it could endure the adhesive solutions. The wig itself, strands of a range of black, white and gray hair woven into fine netting, needed to fit against and adhere to the skull cap very smoothly to appear as though it is of my own head/scalp.

Fine instruments similar to dental tools were used to smooth and fit the wig to the skull cap. Finally, adhesive was used to tack down the wig netting around the edges of where my hair line ends around my face and the back of my neck. During this time, Doreen and Steve were discussing this delicate process and the very careful/respectful handling of the wig and skull cap. They also speculated regarding my position in the bed. Will the wig bunch up against the pillows I might be propped up with? They considered every angle and how to maintain the adhesive and wig positioning on my head given the possible hours of shooting we might experience. Considering lights and the Hawaii weather, they talked about what persiration will do to the adhesive and the wig. It is a known possibility that a reservoir of moisture could build up and not be allowed to escape because of the laquer and the very close fit of the skull cap and wig. Steve and Doreen discussed all of the possible scenarios they would need to be aware of and prepared for so the shoot would go smoothly and with as little delay as possible if a challenge should arise.

Then, Steve began to create the facial look of the make-up. He applied various darker shading around the eyes and in the hollows of my cheek bones. He stipled on layers of colors that gave my skin a sallow and rutty look. A whole range of sizes of brushes were also used to apply the make-up. He also created an interesting look with my eyebrows. He utilized a material that would block out parts of my brows to give the look of lost hair there as well. He mentioned that he was creating this look in contrast to how I would look in the 1980's scenes when I am looking for the apartment with young Miles. He knew he would make me up with fuller eye brows and wonderful 80's frosty colored make-up that would directly contrast the ill look of Lara Chang later. The layering and detail was phenomenal. I was a blank canvas that became the ill Lara Chang right before my eyes.

Right as we finished almost five hours later, the director, Jack Bender, came into the make-up and hair trailor and sat down in the chair next to me. I met him and said, "Nice to meet you. It's not a great first impression is it?" He laughed. Steve, Doreen, and Jack talked about any adjustments needed to the make-up. Jack asked about some of the shading and Steve shared his research and thinking about his choices. They agreed quite easily on very minor adjustments given the time of day and lighting that was anticipated. The next concern was the amount of time it would take to recreate all of this the next morning. Steve and Doreen assured Jack that they could cut the prep time down to 2 1/2 - 3 hours. They were already considering where they could streamline the process and colors and instruments and materials were already being prepped for the next day.

Jack Bender asked me what I thought and how I felt. I asked a couple of questions about the script and he answered them very succinctly providing the clarity I needed. I expressed my gratitude for this process. I shared with him that I wasn't expecting this journey. I was expecting to get in the chair the next morning cold and not have any lead time to incorporate the look , the script/text with Lara's condition. I told him I love mask work and this was like getting to see the mask develop and appear right before my eyes. To have had nearly five hours to keep looking at the mask and to read the script and begin to memorize lines as this process was unfolding was a real gift and first rate collaboration. Steve and Doreen were surprised I wanted to watch the process so closely. Often actors fall asleep and rest or even want to get up often and walk around. I think needing to learn this character very quickly and all that she would be going through in the shoot the next morning kept me in the chair and compelled to watch every step of the creative process.

Slowly and carefully, Steve and Doreen each reversed the process with solvents to get me out of the make-up, wig and skull cap. Great respect was taken to care for the wig and skull cap so as not to stretch them out of the shapes that Victoria Mudd so beautifully fitted and sculpted. I am given a solvent to get the laquer out of my hair and then I am driven back to the hotel. I still have more work to do.

After dinner, I began to utilize the Catherine Fitzmaurice Voicework Method of destructuring and restructuring to really learn my lines and the character's condition and circumstances at a deeper level. I want to get as far as I could that night to discover how I might bring my process from an intellectual one of memorizing lines to dropping into the body so I can embody the role of Lara Chang. Eventually, I did go to sleep but set my alarm to get up in time to utilize the Fitzmaurice Voicework Method to warm up my voice and body and continue my process of discovery with my character, Lara Chang.

Revisit this blog to read PART III and find out how the shoot went!


  1. Its wonderful to hear about the highly detailed and expert process of each person involved in a project of this magnitude. To think that what you describe is just one actor's detailing and that there are so many details to be considered overall- its a little mindblowing.
    A number of people have seen your credits on-screen and asked if you
    are related to me- I guess since I'm bald they see the resemblance of bald Laura to me???@#$@##!!!
    People have loved your character and are asking for more! They want scoops. What to do? I just laugh and tell them I'm as interested and excited as they are and am eagerly awaiting more...
    I loved your performance!

  2. This make-up process is really interesting - 5 hours to complete? Did you get a meal/bathroom break?

    I'm looking forward to the next episode!

  3. Where were you introduced to Fitzmaurice? Have you worked her son Saul Katsubi in LA?

  4. Thank you everyone for visiting this blog! I will be writing the next article soon! Thankfully and gratefully, I am shooting a Mountain Dew commericial so am a bit booked. I will get the next article out ASAP. It is fun to write about and I am so happy that you are finding it interesting. I hope it is informative as well.

    And yes, I am studying with Saul Kotzubei. I studied the Fitzmaurice Voicework techniques at the American Conservatory Theater years ago. It is fantastic to come back to the work now that it has evolved. I am studying with Catherine Fitzmaurice off and on this year as I am in the Fitzmaurice Certification program. It is incredible and quite a journey and adventure as is all of my work.

    And you? You have studied with Saul?