Robin Mathews is a name the beauty industry needs to know as this expert makeup artist’s career has been nothing short of amazing this past year. With an impressive body of work as the Makeup Department Head for big budget and independent films, it’s no wonder Robin is sought after and trusted by some of the hottest and most recognizable faces in Hollywood.
Specializing in both Beauty and Special Effects, Robin’s wide range of skills have allowed her to work on a variety of different projects including “The Final Destination 3-D,” “Into the Wild,” and the soon to be released “Welcome to the Riley’s” (starting James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart). Seasoned Academy Award winners and nominees Sean Penn, Marcia Gay Harden, Catherine Keener, William Hurt, and Michael Shannon, have taken note of Robin’s unique talent and hired her to help them design a look that is true to their character on and off cameras.
However, what’s buzzed about most is that Kristen Stewart seems to be the “common denominator” in many of Robin’s projects lately. The relationship began after working with Kristen on “Into the Wild” and “Welcome to the Riley’s” when Kristen asked Robin to also help her revamp the look of her character Bella for “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” In Robin’s latest project, she teams up with Kristen Stewart once again for the film “The Runaways” where she is getting rave reviews for turning Kristen and Dakota Fanning into spitting images of rock legends Joan Jett and Cherie Currie.
We got to chat with Robin to discuss her influences when doing makeup, working with Kristen Stewart, and how she turned nice girl Dakota Fanning into a rock icon.
What were your primary influences when doing makeup for THE RUNAWAYS?
The Band! They were iconic stylists that set the tone for so many of today’s performers and make-up looks. Portraying the creation of this on film was a huge responsibility for all of us.
Did you already know the techniques you needed to get the glam 80s look or did you have to study up somewhere?
Well, the Runaways was actually a band from 1975-1979, so the look from that time period was a mesh of Disco and Punk that eventually turned into Glam Rock in the early 80’s. The looks were all about lavish excess and extravagance. There was an abundant use of color and glitter and none of it was subtle. I always do a ton of research for my films so I can assist the actors in bringing a physical depth to their characters. The main difference in researching this film was that there were so many photos of the band to use as reference, which was a big help. I didn’t want the make-up design to be “my” take on The Runaways; I wanted it to match the band’s real looks exactly. My assistants and I spent many, many hours gathering real adds, photos, and video from the time period for the looks of the other characters in the movie as well as all of the background.
Was it difficult turning innocent looking Dakota Fanning into a glam rocker? How did you go about the transformation?
That’s a great question! Yes, Dakota’s physical transformation in the film was one of the most difficult for me make-up wise, but not because of the reasons you may think. It’s no secret that the band eventually led quite a life of excess, and Dakota, as Cherrie, makes an incredibly dramatic physical transformation in the film. I’m really excited for people to see it! You’ve never seen Dakota look like this in a film before. Of course, because Dakota has such a cherub-like appearance; the only way such an extreme physical transformation was pulled off was because of her amazing acting.
How did being with Joan Jett and Cherie Currie influence you on set?
It had everything to do with the success of the film. Not only to be able to ask them questions about their looks and how and why they came up with them, but to also have them there physically to compare the bone structure with that of Kristen and Dakota. Other real characters in the movie came to set too like Marie Currie (Cherrie’s twin sister), Cherie and Marie’s Mother, Rodney Bingenheimer, and Kim Fowley. Being able to hang out with these legends while helping re-create their story on film was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life.
What was the signature look you wanted to achieve for the film?
Again, I went for realism, not “glossed over Hollywood Beauty.” The Runaways were young teenagers who had blemishes, and when they needed to look like they’d been out on the road for too long, we wanted it to show. Of course the signature look was definitely all about the eyes!
Use five adjectives to describe what you wanted the moviegoers to think when they saw the makeup in this movie.
Realistic, Dramatic, Iconic, Fun, Historic
Photo Credit, “Courtesy of Apparition, 2010.”