The Rundown On The Runaways
The Kristen Stewart-as-Joan Jett transformation for The Runaways has been talked about for months (even longer, it seems, than the are-they-or-aren’t-they rumors around her affair with her Twilight co-star Rob Pattinson), but it’s finally time for the big reveal. The film had its premiere in L.A. last night, and come March 17, New Yorkers will have their chance to see the scowling attitude, spiky mullet, and smoky eyes on the big screen. Jett’s all-girl group broke boundaries not only in music, but also in makeup. We went behind the scenes with lead makeup artist Robin Matthews to discover the power of primer and why the sweatier things got on set, the better.
You worked with Kristen Stewart on New Moon to re-create a character who exists in the pages of a book. For The Runaways, the characters—Joan Jett, Cherie Currie—actually exist in real life. Did that make things easier or more difficult?
Well, it was definitely unique—getting to re-create these iconic women and have them right there on set. The film illustrates this fun, decadent, and extravagant time period. Men and women would dress up in glam and androgynous looks. The challenges were making sure that it wasn’t a modern-day take on The Runaways, or a glossed-over Hollywood version. We wanted a true, gritty, realistic portrayal of these girls’ lives.
How did you do your research?
We had more than 5,000 photos of the band and concert footage to work with. And we had Joan and Cherie. We were able to ask them why they created certain looks. A lot of the inspiration came from the time period and the colors around them. They wanted to experiment with the bright pastels and then the heavy, disco-glittery blacks and navy blues. The band’s look was all about the eyes—not the lips or anything else. I think it was easier for them to just do their eyes and get up on stage. It was a matter of convenience as much as fun.
So making things painstakingly perfect was not the point, right?
Exactly, the style was rock ‘n’ roll, not uniform. You went at it with abandon and had fun. Joan and Cherie both did smoky eyes, but they had different takes on it. Joan honed in on the Ramones punk rock style with layers of heavy, smudged black liner and dark shadow. I used a lot of Aqua Eyes 0L [black] liner from Make Up For Ever. Cherie took her influence from David Bowie’s glam rock and played with copper and bright blue shadows and liners. What’s interesting is that we’re starting to see all these modern-day versions of the smoky eye with blues, greens, and purples—not just black and brown. Cherie was on the forefront of all that.
Still, most of us would cringe if we thought back to makeup we wore decades ago. Did Joan and Cherie have that reaction?
I know I would. [Laughs.] But no, they seemed pretty OK with re-creating everything exactly. And you have to remember that Joan is such an icon. She still wears the same smoky eye from 20 years ago—and looks amazing. I would look like an idiot, but she did it right.
The film’s stars performed on stage under the bright lights for hours. Did you rely on any sweat-proof secrets?
We wanted it be realistic, so if makeup was dripping down their faces, we showed that! But I like to use an eye makeup primer to prevent liner and shadow from smudging. Laura Mercier makes a great one called Eye Basics. It’s also important to use a primer under foundation. Proactiv’s Sheer Finish Mattifying Gel primer is actually wonderful for oily skin. I seal everything with translucent powder applied with a pouf—not a brush—since it helps the powder stay put longer. For touch-ups, blot your face with an oil-absorbing tissue. Don’t pack on more powder or it will turn cakey. Oh, and I love Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder dusted under the eyes to seal concealer and prevent it from settling into creases. It has a reflective quality so it gives smoky eyes a little something extra.
And the rest of the face—just keep it naked?
If you look through the photographs, you see Joan and Cherie wearing full makeup only in the early years—stripy blush, smoky eyes, and bright lips all together. But as the film progresses, you see them coming into their own style, and they dropped everything but the eyes. The lips were bare, or they wore those roll-on peach and strawberry-flavored clear glosses, that’s it.
So what’s up next for you?
I’m working with Kristen again on a film called Welcome to the Rileys. It’s another really great art piece film, in which she plays a street prostitute.
Can we expect to see some more smoky eyes?
Yes. [Laughs.] But smoky eyes of a different kind…