Newport Beach Hair Color Blog: Oscar Winners Interviewed on French Impressions

The much-anticipated version of the popular musical Les Miserables, based of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel of the same name, hit theaters on Christmas day. Set in 19th Century France, it tells the story of Jean Valjean, a convict who pledges to turn over a new leaf after an act of kindness keeps him from returning to proson.

Hair and make up designer Lisa Westcott was tasked with bringing a diverse cast of characters to life while reflecting their reversals of fortune over the course of 17 years. “When I start a film, I read the script and write individual breakdowns of each character by hand,” says Westcott, whose prior credits include the costume drama Shakespeare in Love (1998).

Anne Hathaway, who plays Fantine, has some of the movie’s most heart-wrenching scenes, including one in which she sells both her long hair and her teeth for money to feed her daughter. A former worker in Valjean’s factory, Fantine has been forced into a life of prostitution after her coworkers discover that the child is illegitimate. “Anne was keen to have her own hair chopped off for the film,” Westcott says. “I hada long wig made, just in case we needed to go back and shoot the factory scenes again, or any other time before she had her hair cut. When Fantine has her teeth pulled our, we did some coloring inside her mouth and used makeup to create bruising on her face.

Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman, has hes own brush with hairlessness during the long prison stay that opens the film. “Valjean is a convict for approximately 19 years, which means his has would’ve been cut over and over and in a very brutal way,” Westcott says. “We wanted to shave his head so that it looked like it had been very roughly hacked by a sharp knife. We ended up adding scars on his scalp Hugh had a grown a faily good beard, which we extended with little wefts of hair, then added some gray so it looked even scraggier and more grizzled.”

The Thenardiers, villainour innkeepers played by Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, provide the film’s comic relief. “Helena’s wig had got black roots and different colors of blonde in it,” Westcott says. “It was dipped in tea and coffee and all sorts of stuff to give it some brassiness and lots of characters”

While prepping for the shoot, Westcott was in the United Kingdom and Cohen was in the States, so the designer worked from a mold of Cohen’s head to fit the wig Thenardier uses to disguise his idenity. “Sacha had the idea that Thenardier had stolen it off some gentleman, thicking it made him look very upper class,” Westcott says, “The wig was made with yak hair, and it’s got wonderful Hessian innards. it was meant to be an 18th century hard-front wig. It was so thin that it split and looks like a nasty comb-over and very seedy, which worked well with his character.”

The action to climax during the Paris Uprising of 1832, as thousands of starving, desperate citizens take to the barricades against an unfeeling monarchy. Viewers will no doubt be unaware of how much work it took behind the scenes to make so many look so unkempt.”

-Karen Ford, American Salon, January 2013 (32)

Emily Cain
Newport Beach Hair Color


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