While HBO’s hit series “Euphoria” is plenty buzzworthy for its cast and storylines, the show’s craftspeople take pride in using the artistry of makeup, costume design and hair to support the specific story being told – which ultimately allows viewers to feel seen in the various characters’ looks.
“The feedback that was really life-changing from thousands of people was that they felt seen and heard and excited to use makeup to explore who they are and express who they are,” department head of makeup Donni Davy said in the latest installment of TheWrap’s How I Did It, sponsored by HBO.
“Sam Levinson had this vision for the show to be this vessel for makeup as self-expression,” Davy added, but makeup is just one of many components working together to bring these characters to life.
The first place the actors go is to wardrobe for fittings. “I build a deck that has sort of a road map of what I’m planning for each scene, and then I would share it with all our creative departments,” costume designer Heidi Bivens said.
“Each person has their own style, so I wanted to do the same thing for hair,” department head of hair Kim Kimble added. “I want to make sure it cohesively looks good.”
“Across all creative departments, the level of artistry on the show is such that every scene matters, even if it’s a tiny flashback,” Davy said. And communication between the departments is key, especially because the “Euphoria” production is known to change things up on the fly.
“In the beginning, that’s when things are really hopeful. Once we start filming, it just goes so quick,” Davy said of the process of making the show. “Heidi will text me and be like, ‘FYI, this changed,’ and I’ll be like, ‘OK, the makeup’s gotta change too, because the makeup was based on this and that and it’s all very interconnected.”
Davy explained that when designing a character’s makeup, the character’s emotion in the scene plays a big role.
“The first thing I think about is how is this person feeling right now? What did they just do? Last time we saw Lexi, she was like sitting on the stairs typing on her laptop. Now we see her on the phone with Fez. What has changed about her level of confidence?”
Tracking each character’s current emotional state while also filming out of order and shooting multiple different episodes in a single day is “like this giant chaotic puzzle,” Davy said. “The beautiful chaos of working on ‘Euphoria.’”
But the completed puzzle results in something that fans have latched onto in a tangible way, and it’s not lost on the craftspeople that their artistry is making a difference.
“Expressive, fun, interesting makeup has been going on forever but more on the periphery and sort of outside of mainstream society, and I think seeing it on characters, not on models walking down a runway, real, flawed characters really hit for people watching,” Davy said.
“Euphoria” is available on demand from HBO and is streaming on HBO Max.