The Real Reason Dolores Always Looks So Perfect On Westworld

Erika Stalder

If the sell-out popularity of brighter-than-bright metallic highlighters is any indication, we humans may be trying to look more like shiny robots by the day. But on Westworld, a show in which humans and robots coexist in carefully constructed environments, it’s the robots who are trying to pass for human, with help from a little makeup magic.

In the show’s park setting, the hosts’ (or robots’) artifice is reflected in perfect doll-like makeup, as worn by Evan Rachel Wood’s character Dolores. But when fellow host Maeve (played by Thandie Newton) tries to disguise herself as flesh and blood, her flawless signature smokey eye is the first thing to go, leaving a slightly less-than-perfect, and therefore convincingly human, application of neutral shadow in its place.

Dolores in Season 2, Episode 5. <span class="copyright">Photo: Courtesy of HBO.</span>
Dolores in Season 2, Episode 5. Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

How do the show’s makeup artists use eyeliner and blush to subtly push plot points forward, while keeping its lead actresses protected from the harsh elements on set — which include hours-long exposure to unrelenting sun, dust, and wind? Makeup department head Elisa Marsh and makeup artist Rachel Hoke share their secrets ahead, including which cleanser has a serious following on set for keeping element-exposed complexions looking poreless.

Why Dolores Always Looks Pristine — Even When Others Are Dusty AF

Rachel Hoke, makeup artist for Evan Rachel Wood and principal cast: “The character of Dolores was created to look very porcelain-like. As the oldest host in the park (and as a host in general), her appearance is meant to remain consistent, so we don’t see her change her overall look. We know that she is on a journey, for example; we now start to see her getting shot in season two, which provides a juxtaposition — the injuries read a bit more powerful because she is so doll-like and perfect-looking. Part of what makes her character a bit jarring and different is that she appears to look innocent while she is causing destruction and terror.”

Elisa Marsh, makeup department head and makeup artist for Thandie Newton and principal cast: “Dolores maintains a more pristine look for two reasons: First, she is the leader of the horde, and most of the time others do her bidding — reminiscent of a general looking on while the soldiers are doing the hand-to-hand combat. Also, [it gives] the creative license to have this doll-like beauty shooting people and relishing in it.”

… And How Her Makeup Stays So Perfect In Spite Of All That Dust

Dolores in Season 1, Episode 10. <span class="copyright">Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO..</span>
Dolores in Season 1, Episode 10. Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO..

Hoke: “We shoot in heat, dirt, wind, and sun, so keeping Dolores fresh-faced during filming is challenging. When we first started filming, it felt like a science experiment learning how to keep Evan’s skin protected, her body makeup and face looking flawless, and her tattoos covered. For example, I tried using a liquid sunscreen the first day we shot with Evan, but it oxidized with the makeup. When she came in the trailer after filming, there was a yellow highlighter-like hue everywhere that I had been unable to see outside in the sunlight. As the lighting in the makeup trailer revealed, I had to switch sunscreens, so from then on, we started each day by applying iS Clinical Eclipse SPF 50 Plus to her face and body.

Because we shot outside in elements almost every day, Evan and I decided the best thing to do after lunch was to remove all makeup from the skin with Collosol Eau de Lait cleansing milk and start the process over, keeping the eye makeup intact. This cleansing milk quickly became such a cast and makeup artist favorite that we had a hard time keeping it on hand. It cleanses and moisturizes the skin, which feels nice after filming outside all day.”

Marsh: “Keeping the dust off of Evan and Thandie was a constant concern, as it would rest on the eyelashes and dull their complexions, so we kept a large powder brush handy to sweep it off the face.”

Creating Blood & Battle Wounds

Hoke: “This season, we had an extensive makeup artist team, which comprised one team that worked more on the beauty end and with the principal cast, and the other team, which rendered most of the special effects. However, depending on the scene and character, creating blood and dirt could easily fall in the hands of whichever artist was on set taking care of any specific character. We had to be prepared at all times to jump in and create as necessary.

A lot of the cuts and gashes were applied using transfers, then hand-painted with color and fake blood to complete the illusion. We use a fake blood from a company called Red Drum because it washes out of clothing and hair, and if removed properly, doesn’t stain the skin.

Maeve in Season 2, Episode 2. <span class="copyright">Photo: Courtesy of John P. Johnson/HBO.</span>
Maeve in Season 2, Episode 2. Photo: Courtesy of John P. Johnson/HBO.

When I first started in makeup, fake blood made me feel queasy. But I quickly learned that unless I kept an open mind and willingness to participate in all spectrums of the craft, I wouldn’t grow. All it took was one project early on in my career that was filled with creating wounds and gashes; from that point on, I started really enjoying the effects side of creating. Any good makeup artist will have a broad knowledge of all makeup application, whether it’s applying mascara or blood.”

Marsh: “It’s always odd to see your actors beat up, bruised, and dead. Later in the season, there is a scene with Maeve that was hard to see. The special-effects makeup artists did an amazing job.”

The Palette That Brings Out Maeve’s Human Nature

Marsh: “For Maeve’s ‘human look,’ we ditched the Mariposa madam’s heavy smokey eye and went with a more natural makeup look, since she’s attempting to blend in with humans who are leaving the park and doesn’t want to be recognized. Here, I use the Kevyn Aucoin The Legacy Palette which has a mustard shade that’s so beautiful on Thandie's brown eyes and caramel skin. For her eyeshadow, I used wheat, caramel, and a touch of cocoa shades, for depth.”

How Geishas Inspired Maeve’s Shogun Look

Marsh: “The biggest shift in the hosts’ appearance in season two is that they are no longer objects of desire, but of their own agency. In Westworld, the hosts’ looks, including makeup, were created in a diagnostic lab, and they move into season two looking as they did at the end of season one. Though there is a lot of consistency in the hosts’ looks, some altered their appearances through costume change or, in Clementine’s (played by Angela Sarafyan) case, through scarification.

Maeve in Season 2, Episode 5. <span class="copyright">Photo: Courtesy of HBO.</span>
Maeve in Season 2, Episode 5. Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Maeve starts to look more human as she moves through season two. For her shogun look, the palette is Geisha-inspired. We kept her eyeshadow the same, but used darker eyeliner, mixing Charlotte Tilbury Rock ‘N’ Kohl Iconic Liquid Eyeliner Pencil in Barbarella Brown and Bedroom Black and adding a tiny kick at the end. The magic of that makeup look was a Chanel red shade that spoke to me as I was shopping for the episode’s Geisha makeup tests. It didn't land with the Geishas, but the red shade from the Chanel Palette Essentielle in Caramel Intense was so beautiful on Thandie that I used it as both blush and lipstick for the look. To finish, I added moisture to the lips by mixing in Chanel Rouge Coco Ultra Hydrating Lip Colour in 444 Gabrielle.”

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