Home Movies

Exclusive interview: Hair and makeup artists Tina Roesler Kerwin and Jaime Leigh McIntosh talk ‘Blonde’

The behind the scenes team talks to WGTC about the 'Netflix' biopic.

marilyn monroe blonde ana de armas netflix
Credit: Netflix

Tina Roesler Kerwin and Jaime Leigh McIntosh are both Emmy-nominated hair and makeup artists with an illustrious roll call of A-list projects on their resume. Top Gun: Maverick, The Gray Man, Magnolia, and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer are just a few projects that have been elevated through their involvement.

With that wealth of experience built up over time, it is little wonder that both Tina and Jaime have looked after the likes of Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, and most recently Ana de Armas for Blonde, which is now streaming on Netflix.

In the run-up to this unique Marilyn Monroe movie, both Tina and Jaime took time out to chat with We Got This Covered about their connection with the project, as well as what makes writer director Andrew Dominik such a perfect collaborator.

via Netflix

Is your involvement in a project determined by the actor involved, or in this case its iconic subject matter?

TRK: For me, I got involved because a producer I had just finished working with on another film called me and said, “What are you doing?”. I told him I had a job, he said, “I can’t tell you anything about it, but you want this job”. I said, “OK, what do I do now?”, and he said just wait for a call.

JLM: It’s always about networking really. Jean Black, who is an incredible makeup artist that looks after Brad Pitt a lot, had worked with Andrew Dominik on the two films that Brad had done with him. She had recommended me to Andrew, so it was through word of mouth that I got involved, then went in to meet with him.

What sort of research was involved for you both, when it comes to this project?

JLM: It started with the director Andrew Dominik, who had already been working on this for many years. He had lined the production office conference room with an incredible amount of imagery, and it was everything from Marilyn through to just inanimate objects, feel, mood, lighting, all those types of thing.

So it kind of started with his guidance and what recreations he wanted to do. That then narrowed things down a little for a minute, before it just became a deep dive into the detail. We were just looking at everywhere we could for Marilyn references from the movies through anything else that was available.

TRK: All of it, and never stopped to the very end.

JLM: Even now, I’m still coming across images and I’m like, “Oh I haven’t seen that one”.

Considering that Blonde presents a very unique vision of Marilyn Monroe to audiences, what did those first creative conversations with Andrew focus on?

TRK: first of all, it’s very brave of you to have just seen it and then be able to want to talk about it, because some of the imagery in Blonde takes some processing. You may still be thinking about it three days later, because something is guaranteed to come up – so bravo to you for being so courageous. As Jaime Leigh said, we started with the research that Andrew, the director, had already done. He had lined the walls with imagery and then he had a very big wish list of images that we wanted to recreate, you know for the props, for the telling of the story.

I think the process of finding Marilyn was an honor, and in that process of discovering her, we just found ourselves in front of a camera recreating some of them on the fly. It was a little bit of a trial by fire to get some of those images done, but we learned a lot in that first really intense week of prep. We found the small nuances that we needed and then just moved on from there.

How crucial was Ana’s input when it came to making that distinction between Norma Jean and Marilyn Monroe on screen?

JLM: I think it was a mixture of getting information from Ana and Andrew, but once we had figured out the iconic recreations, we knew the direction everything was headed. Then it was trying to work out the Norma Jean at home, the natural, the real, and finding that balance.

Ana was very open, she’s very collaborative, she’s also incredibly helpful when you are in a rush, because everything was done on such a time limit, more so than any other film I’ve worked on. It was in that type of environment I would do my work, but as long as Andrew and Ana were happy, I was happy, so it was just finding that balance with them.

But I will say it was so much fun doing these incredibly glamorous looks, but also those broken down, deconstructed, and more natural looks which worked so well. I think Ana really enjoyed that process with us.

What sort of challenges did you both face when it came to re-creating some of Marilyn’s iconic movie looks?

TRK: In the process of creating these looks you’re dealing with multiple people, so you’re dealing with Ana and you’re dealing with Norma Jean and you’re dealing with Marilyn. So the effort is to try and merge all of those factors into images and looks that make sense. Andrew had all these pictures on set, where on some occasions he literally had the photograph on a c-stand with the actors in front of the camera. Meaning we were moving the smallest increments to get them absolutely right.

Like Jamie Lee had said, when Andrew was happy that was the biggest goal because he was our biggest critic, and support as well. He had worked on this film so long and had such a clear vision that, in a way, we were sort of late to the game just because we started when the film started.

JLM: I think it is one challenge to recreate those looks, but also in your mind you’re constantly thinking about every single person that knows exactly what Marilyn looks like and is familiar with these films. They know them inside out and her fanbase is known to be very passionate. You’re just thinking in the back of your mind, I hope and I think it’s looking alright, Andrew seems to be happy, Ana is happy, are the fans. Is the Marilyn fanbase going to think the same thing.

TRK: It felt like a big responsibility to get it right so hopefully we did that.

Can you describe for me your perfect Sunday afternoon?

JLM: I think I might have had it just yesterday. I was lying, we have a very large hammock and the temperature was just right. The hammock is under the tree, and I had my husband and my two dogs all on the hammock, and we just kind of were dozing in and out of sleep. It was wonderful.

TRK: That sounds perfect to me. My perfect Sunday is probably not much different. Sundays when you’re working and Sundays when you’re not working are very different, and the most perfect Sundays are when you’re not.

My husband and two of my dogs are up in the mountains so I’m in LA with one of my dogs, he’s an old fella and he’s laying right here. We got up and we took a walk and we both took naps. I’m learning a new video app that Jaime Lee is trying desperately to teach me, so I spent some time with that until my dog Fausto needed to go out and then we fell asleep again. So it was a perfect day, you know half my family is not here, husband and dogs, but it was a pretty quiet day other than that.

Blonde is now streaming on Netflix, and you can check out our review of the movie here.

About the author

Martin Carr