The Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once is one of the most original movies of the year. As Michelle Yeoh zigs and zags throughout all of these different multiverses, her costumes, makeup, and hairstyling have to be distinct and singular–we have to get a clear sense of all of these different characters with very little screen time or explanation. Hair Department Head Anissa Salazar gives us multiple distinct impressions as we speed along, and they are some of the most character-driven pieces you will see this season.
Hairstyles throughout Everything Everywhere All At Once could not be slapdash or big just to be big. Salazar wanted to make sure that every look had a meaning and purpose on Evelyn’s journey.
“One of the things discussed in the concept meeting is even though they are changing throughout these universes, we wanted to keep them as authentic as we could. But we wanted to keep the individuality so the audience could recognize them with those subtle changes.”
The theme of circles and coming back to one another is a big theme throughout the Daniels drama, and one of the biggest impressions we get comes when Evelyn meets Joy in the Bagel Universe. Atop Stephanie Hsu’s head is a circle created out of braids, and it matches with the pearls on Hsu’s face. It feels regal, beautiful, and just a bit silly. We question where we are the minute we see it.
“The Daniels have been working on this script for some time, so they had an idea of what each character should look like in addition to their detailed backgrounds. You can sense that this character has a lot of aggression and bottled-up emotions. It’s the perfect range for a villain. In the Bagel Universe, I wanted to make something a little more complex to represent that and this look. Between the head makeup designer, Michelle Chung, to the costume designer, Shirley Kurata, we got more of an idea of what she was going to look like. We wanted white beads to be goddess-like, and we incorporated the beads from her costume into the makeup and hair. I started with a rough sketch of something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a sci-fi movie with a complex braid style and a foam cutout. I knew I wanted to give the illusion that this structure was going to be a bagel, but I didn’t want it to look like an everything bagel. I built different pieces of foam, wrapped them in hair, and placed them on my own head and taking a lot of selfies for the Daniels. As long as I gave a detailed description with the look, they let me run with it. It was a complex mixture of bamboo braids, fishtail braids, and inside out braids and seeing how I could use Stephanie’s own hair as well since we were an indie film and a passion project. I had to get creative with her own hair and incorporating structure. I built around a foam piece and seeing where these braids could perfectly fit.”
As Evelyn hurtles around different times and places, Salazar wanted to make sure that there was a baseline to come back to when Evelyn returns to her principle (or Hero) look. She is being thrown around and meeting different elements at warp speed, so Salazar needed to created something that Yeoh felt comfortable in.
“When we first had the conversation, we wanted her slightly aged but not too much. We had to find that happy medium. With Michelle Chung, she had tried aged spots during the camera test, and I think that was the biggest challenge–to not make her look “not good.” How do we make this beautiful icon look distressed? She is dedicated to playing the character throughout, and you want them to feel comfortable. We found the medium with the grey that I customized for her. Because of her tight schedule, my prep time was very limited, and it was during the Christmas break. I customized a store bought wig to her head shape and re-fronted the lace. I ventilated a certain amount of grey hairs near her temples and her center part, At the hairline, I added a lot of broken and distressed baby hairs throughout, and I customized the color throughout so it was more a 75/25 salt and pepper feel. Originally, we went a lot greyer. It was important that Michelle Yeoh was comfortable since she is in it for the majority of the movie. She wasn’t going to have a beautiful blowout, but she is such a badass.”
Salazar also wanted to make sure she respected the heritage and history of the Wang family throughout Everything Everywhere, and that came into play especially when she created the opera singer look for Evelyn. Through her research, Salazar incorporated a technique that I was surprised to find out was still being used today.
“Even with the flashback ’80s scene and the opera house looks, we wanted to represent those looks as authentically as possible. I pulled from Daniel Kwan’s personal reference photos and Michelle Yeoh’s online photos from that time. I asked Michelle a lot of questions as to how she wore her hair back then. When it came back to the Chinese opera, I spent hours on YouTube referencing how these performers got ready and using Google translate as much as I could. What I learned was that they used tree sap to shape the front fringe on themselves on the day of performing. They would soak the entire piece and start molding it along their hairline. Because of the limited time, I quickly used a gel that would mimic that same shine and texture that this sap would. I pre-molded these hair pieces onto a wig block, and then I tried it on myself to see if the weight was a problem. These performers are wearing these heavy pieces like champions, and I wanted to make sure it was lightweight enough in addition that it represented the community accurately.”
My personal favorite look comes towards the very end as Evelyn and Joy have their biggest, most violent confrontation. Joy is dressed almost like a clown, and her hair is chaotic and windswept. The bangs are cleanly broken into two separate sections to indicate how fractured her emotions are, but the sides are dramatic and puffy. It’s one of the most striking looks of the entire film.
“That look was very specific, and I channeled 1997 Vivienne Westwood winter runway looks. I am a huge fan of Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits. When I read the script, I pulled from my favorite photos and favorite high-fashion looks, and everything I wanted to use for this, I pitched. Not only was it an opportunity to showcase these weird, strange, and cool hairstyles, I thought it would fit perfectly with Stephanie’s character. There’s so much darkness to them and that’s what makes fashion so cool. Shirley showed us some of the textures that she was going to use for that look, and I thought the disconnected fringe could be fun since it’s not something that’s straightforward. The textured, cotton candy, felt hair I did a series of figure eight hairpins and crimped them throughout the entire wig. I wanted it to be situated for when we did the quick change, and then when we got to set, we found out that there was going to be a huge, powerful air blower on set. So there goes more bobby pins and more matte-based glue. With the big dramatic ending happening, her hair is all over the place and her makeup is so Picasso-like. There’s so much to look at, and your emotions are at an all-time high.”
How can we talk about wigs without mentioning Jamie Lee Curtis’ Deirdre? Her IRS agent looks unlike anything we have seen Curtis tackle before, and it’s clear that she is having a ball with the character.
“Jamie Lee, like Michelle, is such a badass and knows what she wants to do. She saw a stock image photo of an angry tax agent stamping papers, and that’s what she sent me for reference. Shirley matched up some textile for costumes. I took an over-the-counter wig that I customized for her hairline, and I colored it as if there was from a box with about ten inches of growth from the root. Of course, she would have a micro fringe. Of course, she wouldn’t have a normal bang. That was really exciting to do, because she brings such an incredible energy when she creates her characters. I know Michelle, on the makeup side, wanted to make it look like she wiped a lighter concealer on her face. We wanted her to be someone that you could see anywhere.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is playing in theaters now.