How Kazu Hiro Turned Charlize Theron Into Megyn Kelly

Published January 29, 2020

Bombshell, the new film from Jay Roach which dramatizes the fallout at Fox News after word spread of CEO Roger Ailes’s sexual misconduct, has gathered much buzz and several Oscar nominations. Much of the chatter surrounding the film, however, has also been about the uncanny way in which its stars—mainly Charlize Theron, but also Nicole Kidman and John Lithgow–physically transformed into their roles. Kazu Hiro, the makeup and prosthetics artist on the film, known for his Oscar-nominated work on Click and The Darkest Hour, detailed exactly how he made those transformations happen.

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Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly

“My main goal was to find out how people recognize Megyn Kelly as Megyn Kelly, and Charlize as Charlize. So, almost like filling a void to make Charlize look like Megyn. Most of America knows what Megyn Kelly looks like, because she is on TV a lot. It’s very easy to compare. So, I was really careful about how to design it and what the outcome would look like. It would be easier for the audience to judge if something was wrong.

We needed to make a nose plug to make her nostrils bigger, because Charlize’s nostrils are so small, and Megyn’s are much bigger. So I had to widen the nostril holes. I took an impression of the inside of the nose. At the end what I made was a nose plug, and the nose tape, and chin, because Megyn’s chin is much longer. And the jawline, because Megyn has a really angular face. The eyelids were a big difference, because Charlize has deep socketed eyes, kind of big eyes, and Megyn has heavy-hooded eyelids. Also, I got contact lens to darken Charlize’s eye color, like a dark turquoise blue, to make it look like Megyn’s. The eyelid was the hardest. In this case, I had to create Megyn’s eyelid over Charlize’s eyelid. The first one wasn’t working right, and probably one side I put too much glue on it, so that’s why she had a hard time blinking in the same way, left and right. And of course, after the first test makeup, I improved everything on that part. The first test makeup, she thought she looked like a young Glenn Close.

Originally, Jay Roach said to her, ‘We don’t really think you need the prosthetics.’ But Charlize really wanted to have it. What she mentioned was, after she went through the training of voice and mannerisms and looked herself in the mirror, she didn’t want to see her own face doing that. She felt that’s not strong enough. It was really important to her that to tell the story, she really should look like Megyn Kelly.”

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Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson

“Nicole has a nose and chin piece. Originally, I designed the cheek pieces, because Gretchen Carlson has rounder cheeks compared to Nicole. Nicole has really a skinny, sharp nose and cheeks. But Nicole said she didn’t want to have different cheeks. So we just decided to apply a nose and chin on her. Gretchen has a kind of dimple in the center of the chin, and that’s the thing. Nicole’s chin is much sharper compared to Gretchen’s.

When I study faces, I believe that their soul reflects the surface. What they look like will affect who they are, and who they are affects what they look like. So, when I do research, I try to capture subtle expressions, what their posture is, and how their mannerisms are, and put that in part of the sculpture. It’s very subtle of course, because you have to work with the actor’s expression.”

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John Lithgow as Roger Ailes

“John was really skeptical about the prosthetic makeup because he mentioned to me that he had a bad experience in the past. He had been refusing to use prosthetic makeup. But Jay convinced John that we should try it, and see what would happen. Jay said he wanted John to look like a kind of hybrid between Roger Ailes and John. So I designed it that way. Of course, he had to be much heavier. That’s one thing. But Roger has very characteristic facial features—a bigger nose, bulldog-like cheeks, and a heavy neck. And so, I made a nose piece, cheek pieces, a neck piece, and earlobes to change his face. The forehead shape was quite different, so I shaved back his hairline to make the forehead bigger. The department head of hair, Ann Morgan, came in to refine the haircut, and also did the extension in the back and dyed the hair, because Roger had an interesting hair color—white in the front and dark in the back.

The good thing was, as soon as I put the nose on him, he started to see how great this makeup would work, so he was really
excited about it. He’s a really nice person. Every day he’s just smiling and comes in the trailer happy. He had to sit through about three hours in the makeup chair, so he wrote a book about Trump while he was sitting. It’s called Dumpty. And he published that book after the film was over.”

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Margot Robbie as (Fictional Character) Kayla Pospisil

“I didn’t do any work on Margot. She had makeup and a wig. Ann Morgan applied a wig. I was really impressed with it. It’s so beautiful and so real.”

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Adam Sandler as Michael Newman in Click

Adam is a nice person, but he cannot sit still! He’s a really fidgety person, and he likes to watch football on TV during the makeup. And he is so into it. He would suddenly stand up and start screaming at the TV. It was kind of crazy to do makeup on him. But I felt sorry that he wasn’t nominated [for Uncut Gems]. He’s a great person, and I love him a lot.”