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More Onset Secrets From Orphan Black—You've GOT to Hear The Background on Helena!


Alert Dr. Leekie, we've got details to share from the Orphan Black set—well, of the hair-and-makeup variety, anyway. Yesterday we covered hair and today we get into the all the fun makeup details with makeup artist Stephen Lynch. And the way he morphs Tatiana Maslany into totally different characters, well, that can only be described as art. Here's what he had to say about their making up the show's growing clone army:


Lipstick: I would image that this opportunity is really unique in the makeup field. You have to use a lot of creativity to find ways to make the same woman look like herself, but totally different at the same time, right?
Stephen: I'll tell you: It's heaven—I mean it. Once I got the script, so I was stimulated, but then I met Tatiana, and thought, I wonder how changeable she is? I thought about it long and hard because it can be hard. Very often blonds are easy to change but brunettes are tougher. I thought I could change the brows, change her lip shape...but I don't know how changeable she'll be. But then, working with Tatiana, of course what she brings is a staggering amount of talent. Her physicality, her psychology she brings to the characters—it's pretty outstanding. For me it's a marriage made in heaven. I work closely with closely with Tatiana and our hairstylist to put a lot of thought into each look.


Sarah and her daughter Kira

Lipstick: Has there been a clone that took some tweaking to get right?
Stephen: [Main clone] Sarah—I had to pull back on Sarah. I just went a little bit more realistic in the beginning. Then it was 'maybe not too bruisy, not too realistic.'

Lipstick: How do you go about coming up with a look for a new clone?
[Hairstylist] Sandy and I have to do our homework early. We get three or four weeks for a new clones. Usually we start without Tatiana because she's so busy learning two scripts and being on set. We literally lock the door and are incommunicado, and we brainstorm and we go through pychological development and we really dig deeply in and try to entrench ourselves in that mindset. Then after a while either he or I will come up with a concept or a word [that sets it off]. And the sparks fly.

Lipstick: Which was the clone you found the most challenging to create?
Stephen: I would have to say the most challenging and the most stimulating was coming up with [Sarah's twin] Helena. They had seen her originally as a sooty black eye makeup, kind of a joker. We kind of ignored that—in fact we ignored that completely. And that was the one really were were locked away for a number of hours. We used the church as our research because she was raised by nuns in Eastern Europe and she's a damaged character. We looked at the silent version of Joan of Arc and we looked at a movie with Bette Davis called Of Human Bondage. We used Michelangelo and frescos, and eastern orthodox and latin american statues that cried real tears. We just wanted something new, something we had never seen before. And then the self-harming, of course [Helena bears self-inflicted wounds on her back]. I had been asked to do a tattoo and frankly it just bored me. We had to come up with something else. So we thought what if you she creates angel wings with scarification. So we grabbed our show runner's assistant and we did our own photoshoot to convince the powers that be. I was really proud of that. It's really off-kilter and nothing we've seen before.

Sara was instant. She had bad streaks, she has makeup that she just trowels on day after day on top of the old. That was easy. Beth was just Beth. She was easy. Again, Cosima presented a bit of a challenge. She's a borderline genius, borderline nerd, she's gay—I was trying to find her. But once I knew we were doing dreads, I said that's it. Any person who walks down the street in a major city can spot this girl. She's in long flawy clothes, she has to have peircings. I teach at a college and there's always one student in every class who takes a Kabuki-theater approach to makeup—very flat and very matte and very theater. She's truly married to that look, and it's a recognizable look. And when we first made her up like that, Tatiana smiled—it was nice. With [mother and actress] Allison, we give her too much makeup, too much bush. I think if she can control her look—that goes for a lot of women—if I can at least control my look, I can go on.


Rachel and Sarah dressed as Cosima. Confused yet?

Lipstick: Who takes the longest?
The longest—Helena if we have to go back and forth to another one. Other than that it's Rachel. Rachel sees herself as better—she's lofty and pretentious with her look and immaculate haircut. Once we had the hair, I knew what I wanted to do. [This is a woman who] spends an awaful lot of time and money on skincare so that she doesn't have to condescend to a makeup look. It makes her polar oppostie to Sarah who is all about her eyes. Rachel's armor is invisible. Come at me—I dare you. Rachel has the perfect red lip, the perfect skin.

Lipstick: You speak with so much affection for all of them. You really seem to love the characters.
Stephen: I can't image losing any of them and I'm terrifed that our writes might have to do that—that it might be necessary to the story. I can't imagine my day without all of them. I love them. Helena is loving and intuitive. I think I have a real soft spot with the relationship between [Sarah's brother] Felix and Allison. I'd hate to see Allison go.

Lipstick: Are you often making her into several people in one day?
Stephen: Whatever location we have determines what we shot, so we often change her two three times a day. If we're really lucky we only have one character but most of the time I'm scrubbing her skin again and again.

Lipstick: I'd imagine her skin gets irritated. What do you do for that?
Stephen: When it gets bad, I just put the new face on top of the old. I have to when her skin can't take another change at 5:00 a.m. So don't look too closely—you may see Allison peeking out under Helena!

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