Interview: Defenders Makeup Artist Sarit Klein

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The Defenders

Defenders Makeup Artist Sarit Klein 

Sarit Klein is a veteran makeup artist. She’s worked on The Defenders, most of the Marvel Netflix shows, Manhattan Love Story, Unforgettable, Necessary Roughness, and Elementary. For the upcoming Marvel series The Defenders, Klein had the remarkable task of both maintaining and updating makeup, scars, wounds, and styling for dozens of characters, including Jessica Jones, Trish Walker, Misty Knight, Luke Cage, Alexandra, Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Colleen Wing, Madame Gao, Stick, Danny Rand, and more. Her work on this series is the culmination of years of work, which has all been leading to The Defenders. In this exclusive interview with Klein, she shares her process, her techniques and how she kept these characters in continuity with their own shows, all while updating them for The Defenders.

When did you start working on the Marvel Netflix shows?

I’ve been working on Marvel Netflix shows since Daredevil Season 1. Since then I’ve worked on Jessica Jones Season 1, Luke Cage Season 1, Iron Fist Season 1, and The Defenders. Marvel knew that we were the team, they knew that we were going to get to The Defenders. I’m also working on Jessica Jones Season 2 right now.

How did you keep track of all the makeup looks, scars and bruises from show to show?

I’m very organized. Knowing that I’m going to get to do The Defenders, what I did at the end of each show was, I created a folder, like Daredevil’s wound map, that went with me from show to show. I didn’t know at the time who was going to be on the show except for the four principles [Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist.] I didn’t know the villain until I started working. The folder made it easier to prep for the show. What helped is that I brought on my team that started on Luke Cage. That would be better for everyone so I can delegate for the actors and the stunts.

Jessica Jones has such an edgy look. Did you change that for The Defenders?

Jessica Jones, she really doesn’t give a f-ck what she looks like. She’ll fix a drink and grab her jacket and go. She won’t look in the mirror. So she does have smudged eye liner on to give her an edgy look. And I only use cherry chapstick on Krysten [Ritter.] It’s easier for her to get into character.

Did you change or update any of Luke Cage’s looks for this show?

He’s easy. He doesn’t get any cuts and bruises. His color palette is more yellow and Stefanie’s hoodie had some yellow and gold and we gave him a healthy glowy skin.

What about Matt Murdock’s looks for this show?

The beginning of The Defenders picks up after Elektra died. Emotionally Matt is very distraught. He’s a bit more unkempt. With the facial hair we’re trying to keep consistency. Not much to say about his makeup but we did keep his wound map. He’s got scarring from his fight with Nobu. What’s important for me in scar scenes it to make it look as real as possible. It should look like it’s part of the actor’s skin. I put a lot of thought into making it look real. Sometimes you have to be prepared on the day, depending on the angle of filming. We always have to be prepared for the bruising, the blood, and the scarring to look like it’s all part of him.

Sigourney Weaver’s character Alexandra is the main antagonist for this season. What was
 it like working with her and how did you style her?

I love Sigourney. When I found out I was doing her makeup I was so excited. The process of designing her makeup stated in a phone conversation. Sigourney called from Europe. We spoke about her character and her thoughts about the makeup. Then we talked to the director [of Defenders Episodes 1 & 2] S.J. Clarkson. Then Marvel and Netflix chimed in, specifically the costume department. [Costume] fittings always influence my design. We gave her a lot of gold and silvers. Sigourney is so beautiful and we wanted to make her look a little more evil. We amped her brows a bit, she wore a little more makeup than she wears on a daily basis. She wears beautiful, natural lipsticks and a little bit more false lashes compared to the other characters, so she can stand out a little bit more.

What did you change and what did you keep for Danny Rand and Colleen Wing’s looks?

Defenders is a few months after Iron First in the timeline. They went to China [to find K’un Lun] and they came back. Colleen’s look stayed as consistent as I could do it from Iron Fist. Danny’s grooming stays pretty much the same, unlike the homeless transformation in Iron First Season 1. I don’t like to put a lot of makeup on guys, I think it distracts the audience and the actor, so I only use it if it fits the character. Even on women, I like to keep the makeup natural,

How did you come up with the design for Danny’s chest tattoo?

There were over 20 makeup tests for this tattoo. It got to the point that everyone was happy with the final project. Raised, color, placement, so many variables. I let Josh Turi, our prosthetic designer, handle it because I had so much on my end. We work as a team. Josh has been with me since before Daredevil. I asked him to come along — he’s a huge Marvel fan — he said “hell yes”’ When we read a new script we each break it down separately then divide up the work.

Madame Gao is an incredible character who always looks fantastic. How did you come up with her look?

We did five hours of makeup testing with her to find her perfect look. Every part of her skin is aged, it’s stretched, it takes over an hour to put together. We hand paint age spots on her face, her neck, her hands, her arms. We age her. We don’t know exactly how old she is just that she’s hundreds of years old. The way we do the age spots has to be perfectly continuous. We have little marks where I know to place everything. These notes came with me from the Daredevil Season 1. I actually put on Instagram a picture of Madame Gao before and after:

Let’s talk about Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Karen Page. We know she going to be in The Defenders, did you update her look for the show?

I tried to keep it consistent. Deborah was jumping back and forth, shooting The Punisher while shooting The Defenders. There was a lot of discussions about her look for both shows. We had to keep continuity with the other show as well. We trimmed the hair and kept the makeup natural.

How about Elodie Young, who plays Elektra. It’s no secret that she’s coming back to The Defenders.

Makeup wise there was a little bit of transformation from Daredevil Season 2.

What are some of the challenges to working on The Defenders and the other Netflix shows?

The stunts, the wounds, fight sequences, everything is different. The placement of a little cut, the healing power of a character that heals a bruise. Everything you shoot is out of order. There are so many variables to execute. In Iron Fist we had to reshoot a scene from Episode 1 (where Finn Jones had his homeless beard) after we had already cut Finn’s hair. We had to find, order, and color a beard and overlay it over Finn’s.

In between the shows I’ve had about one week off. I’m always prepping the next show while doing the current show. While I was on Luke Cage I had to design the Carl Lucas flashback beard. I had to start designing that weeks before Jessica Jones even ended. While I’m on a show specifically I’m always prepping for the next episode while shooting the current one. Sometimes I have to come back from a night shoot at 4 or 5 am, sleep, then reply to emails about prep for upcoming episodes. I’m working 24/7.

We are very grateful for Sarit’s work on the series. You can check out a full gallery of images — which include her makeup and styling — from The Defenders below.

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All episodes of The Defenders are currently streaming on Netflix.

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