Make-Up & Hair Designer Sarah Monzani
on her work on Dr Parnassus
by Phil Stubbs
Sarah Monzani is the make-up & hair designer on Terry Gilliam's
project The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. She spoke with Phil Stubbs
of Dreams one night early in 2008, during the London location shoot
of the picture. In fact, camera started rolling in the middle of the interview,
so we had to turn the volume down to a whisper to continue. Monzani has
worked on an enormous number of films since the mid 1970s, and won the Academy
Award for the 1981 pic La Guerre du Feu.
Christopher Plummer and Lily Cole in The
Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus
What are the make-up challenges on this movie?
Well, I've known Terry for a long time. His wife's a make-up artist,
and I've known Maggie very well for a long time as well. I absolutely know
the way he works. He's very hands on
and whatever he's written, it's
all inside his head. And the biggest task is to drag it out of his head.
He's very generous, because he allows you to get inside there, and drag
a bit out at a time - because it's not possible with something like this
to take it all in at once. You read the script and that's one thing
and then you read it again and something else appears and it goes like that
all the time.
Unfortunately, when we did the make-up tests, we never had a chance to get
to this particular sequence that we are shooting now [The Leadenhall Market
sequence, where the upmarket shoppers seek to enter the Imaginarium]. We
got to a lot of other points, but this was always way down the line. As
it happens, it's only four weeks down the line, but it seemed a long, long
I talk to Monique [Prudhomme] a lot about the costumes, and she spends endless
time dragging things out and saying what she can achieve and what she can't
achieve. Then I tend to go with the flow from there and it was only last
night we decided that we would use the afro wig on Verne, and he looks fantastic!
The Jackson 5%
Absolutely! So I had 3 or 4 different afro wigs. Fortunately I think
for me, because I worked in television originally, I'm used to this. I worked
with Spike Milligan, and on a day-to-day basis he would say "I bet
you haven't got
" So you would gather things together. Basically,
you would have this great huge stock of things around you - everything right
through to a blond Rastafarian wig, or whatever. I'm approaching this film
in the same way. A lot of things you can't pre-plan, but what you have to
do is just have enough things around you to cover for any eventuality!
Terry is very generous. If I say to him genuinely we haven't got that or
I can't get that, or we don't have the money to do that he goes, "OK.
Well shall we
?", and he goes off in another direction, which
In some ways the film's quite hard. But it's probably because I get sleepless
nights over whether I've got the right thing for tomorrow. But I called
him down to the make-up trailer earlier today to say: have a look at everyone
to make sure it's what you want, because we haven't had a chance to look
at it. He was going: Fantastic, fantastic, this is great.
From that point of view he's very generous. So I think I would say make-up
and hair wise, everything is about Terry, and pulling stuff out of his brain.
And trying to adapt it accordingly to what we have. So it's all very hands-on.
It's a fairly extravagant look today
Oh, absolutely, and the interesting thing is with all these actors,
they've also got their own little slant on the way they want to be. I try
and adapt everybody, but it's good. So far it's been a very good process.
All the things in England are all the exteriors - that's sort of one thing.
When we get to Canada, that's a whole other ball game.
I was wondering what the challenges were there
Yes, inside the Imaginarium. This is a particular sequence that we're
doing at the moment, where when you go into the Imaginarium, this is an
interesting point that I asked Terry very early on. When they go into the
Imaginarium, do they look the same or are they different?
Well, this is interesting, because at the beginning when Martin goes in,
it's his Imaginarium. So when Valentina is in there with him, that's his
imagination, so he sees her differently. So when she goes through, she becomes
something different, and we've yet to find out, because I haven't pushed
it so far. But I know with this, when the lady shopper goes through, she's
experiencing delight, heaven, ecstasy, you name it she's experiencing it,
and comes out flushed and hair all fluffed up, having had the most marvellous
time. I'm not quite sure what happened to her. That's what we are going
to do to her tomorrow. Nothing much different happens to Tony, but it's
not his Imaginarium.
What about the stuff with Valentina, when she goes in, she's older and
And she also plays her own mother! It's good isn't it! I've yet to do
that, but we are going to do it one step at a time. I'm just going to take
every week as it comes, and go like that. You can do certain things, but
it's not a film where you can organise everything up front.
It's like doing half a dozen different movies
Exactly, but that's fun. I know this morning, when we came to work today,
Monique and I were both nervous, I think that's the right word. Because
we weren't sure whether we were going to achieve what we wanted, and whether
it would all work. When we got here and saw it all put together, we went,
"Thank goodness, it looks great!"
But you can't tell until you get it all in position. Individually, if you
see them all in the make-up chair individually, they don't look like anything
really, they look bizarre, they look like they are a clown in a circus or
It's all about Terry Gilliam, really, and dragging it out of him. I like
directors who have a vision. I have worked with people who say: don't ask,
I don't know. You can quote a scene number with some directors and they
haven't got a clue!
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