Q&A: Hunger Games Makeup Designer Ve Neill

How the Hollywood makeup legend created the outrageous looks from the upcoming film.

Photo courtesy Alliance Films

One challenge of The Hunger Games is harmonizing the variety of different looks in the post-apocalyptic future. Jennifer Lawrence’s humble Katniss Everdeen transforms from small-town huntress to unlikely celebrity while Elizabeth Banks’ over-the-top trendy Effie Trinkett makes Lady Gaga look tame. No sweat for Ve Neill. The accomplished makeup artist, who’s worked on the memorable makeup in Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and the Pirates of the Caribbean series, talks about the look of the blockbuster-to-be.

What references did you use for the look of The Hunger Games?
A lot of fashion photos. And I had picked a lot of different types of makeup out of magazines. [But] we wanted to create something that is iconic within itself. But a lot of it is very Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, but with a twist—if that’s possible.

Jennifer Lawrence wears some elegant looks. Do you have any highlights?
There’s a scene when she goes out onstage, and she spins, and her dress fires up. I did clusters of Swarovski crystals all down her arms, where all the colours came out of the top of her dress, she has like a little chiffon flame encrusted with stones coming out the top of her dress. And I did a whole spray over her shoulder and down her arm and down her neck. So when she turns, her whole shoulder lights up like the top of her dress.

Were there any challenges?
I was very careful doing her makeup, because I didn’t want her to look old, you know? I really did a great job of keeping her looking very youthful, because she has to do this for two, three more movies.

How fun was it to dress Elizabeth Banks as Effie?
She has some really beautiful costuming, and there are some really great things that we’ve done with her—she has some pretty spectacular looks. And even Effie isn’t as wild as some of the other people in the cast: Effie is kind of the sophisticate of the bunch. She’s kind of very snooty and sophisticated, but very flamboyant. So some of the other women in the capital are extremely avant-garde—I mean, they’re very over-the-top. Effie is very colourful, and very dignified, and very beautiful. In a very odd way.

Read our interview with The Hunger Gamescostume designer Judianna Makovsky and hair stylist Cherry Petenbrink.

Read our review of The Hunger Games.