Interview: The Topsy Turvy Makeup Looks of ‘Good Omens’ With Anne Oldham

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Amazon’s “Good Omens” seems like a dream project for any makeup artist. It’s an epic adventure that bridges fantasy and reality, Heaven and Hell, and the past and present. With its endless possibilities, the show’s artisans were allowed to let their imaginations run wild. They weren’t restricted by time periods, or forced to be “realistic.” Instead, the artists were able to reference any and everything on the horizon.

Based on the book of the same name, “Good Omens” brings to life the work of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The story chronicles the descent into the end times, and two unlikely friends that find themselves attempting to delay the apocalypse. David Tennant and Michael Sheen star as leads Aziraphale and Crowley, respectively.

“Good Omens” is Amazon’s latest series, debuting on May 31st. Prior to its release, we were able to speak with makeup and hair artist Anne “Nosh” Oldham, and gain some insights into the over 200 makeup looks in the series.

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Adriana Gomez-Weston/Awards Circuit: To get started, how did you get involved with this project? I noticed it’s a little bit different from a lot of your past work. I see you’ve done a lot of period pieces. 

Anne Oldham: It might have been the fact that I’ve done a lot of work with the BBC. They knew me, and I suppose I’ve been tried and tested. I was lucky enough to get an interview, and they said to come with some ideas. After reading the script, I thought the show was such a wild and wonderful thing. You could let your imagination go free. I took in some examples of the thoughts that I had, and they said what I had was exactly what they were thinking! The ideas were slightly out of the box, a little bit bonkers.

We pieced together lots of ideas, then Neil (Gailman) came over. We showed them to him, and he seemed to be pleased. He went with most of the ideas that we came up with, and then we ran with it, which was completely delightful.

AGW: Going off of that, how did your experience differ with “Good Omens?” It’s a really big project with so many different aspects to it. There’s different time periods, and elements of fantasy and reality. How did you find a balance when you were creating that many looks? 

AO: We were lucky because we had no restrictions on period. We could steal from anywhere. We could look way back to ancient times or we could go to the 1960’s. We were able to really embrace all and everything. When the characters came up, they were very well-rounded. They pop off the page. There were times when I’m thinking, “Good god! How many characters have we got on this thing? It’s massive!

Some things were really subtle and some things were really quite bonkers. You don’t do all the looks in one hit. It’s a slow burn, and characters will come and go. There’s moments of madness, but I had a great team with me, the perfect team. Everyone on it was creative. I had an amazing special effects guy who came in and had these silly ideas that he could put into place. That was fabulous.

I think about things a lot when I drive in my car. I mull things over and then I get a little mood board for each character. We might have three or four more ideas from different eras that we just blend in to make one single character. Also, the artists would often come in with their ideas as well. When you’re doing something odd like this, they’ve got to embrace everything about the way they’re going to look, just as much as the script they have.

AGW: There’s so many things going on, which is great. There are some looks from so many periods, so much of everything! I was wondering, “Wow! How did you do all this?” I know it took a significant amount of time to do all that over the course of each hour episode. 

AO: It was a long shoot. It went on for a very long time. Once we got Michael (Sheen) and David (Tennant) right, everyone was happy. The actors were happy. Everything else stems from them. I think if you have your main characters, you’ve really got a handle on everything. Sometimes you can just go a little bit more. Neil said, “I want the characters to be interesting, but I don’t necessarily want them to be visually funny because that should come from the script and the story.

We were doing slightly bonkers ideas, but they weren’t supposed to be a visual joke. That was something interesting to try and work out. We were having a thing about Beelzebub (Anna Maxwell Martin). Once she came up from underground, we made this fly, or my assistant made this fly. We went, “He’s never going to let us do that.”

When Neil came on the bus, we said “Does this look too crazy? We’d love to put this fly on her head.” And he said: “No, I love that! The badder, the better.” 

It was really lovely. He was very encouraging, but he was also really good about knowing what’s enough, and Douglas (MacKinnon) as well. They were both great.

AGW: I was wondering how Crowley (David Tennant) and Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) evolve or shape shift throughout the story. Can you talk about that process?

AO: I met Michael early on. It was decided that his look would be very much the same throughout, except for when he took on a character per say. He settled into his world, didn’t like change, loved his book shop. Once we got his major look in place, that’s pretty much how he stayed. Whereas David, he was a little bit more fly by night, and loved new fashions. He was a bit more of a peacock. He went through more changes, because he was that sort of character.

AGW: What was one of your favorite looks to create?…Do you have one or a couple?

AO: I loved Pollution (Lourdes Faberes). I thought that worked really well. I love the two main characters, which is great. Then we would get Miranda Richardson (Madame Tracy), one of her looks was seaside sixties. She was very flamboyant. There were quite a lot of lovely things. When you come away, you think, “That was fun to do!” I could go on because there were about 200 of them.

AGW: They’re all really fun and exciting! My last question, is what was your favorite aspect of working on a production of this scale? 

AO: I think that being allowed, and encouraged to let my imagination go wild, and really think outside of the box. Quite often when you’re doing period drama, you’re restricted by the period that you’re in. Whereas this project is open to anything. It was really lovely that Neil and Douglas let us feel free and creative. That was a joy.

Awards Circuit would like to thank Anne Oldham for taking time to speak with us.

“Good Omens” will available to stream globally on Amazon Prime on May 31st.

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