The renaissance of The Hunger Games has begun. More than a decade after the release of the Jennifer Lawrence-led dystopian film franchise, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is ready for the spotlight, with a brand-new, straight fire cast — but not all new characters. Not-so-fan-faves like future President Coriolanus Snow are front and center throughout the prequel movie, which means there were plenty of opportunities for fresh makeup and hair ideas (no signature braids here), as well as nods to the original looks.
According to Sherri Berman Laurence, the makeup designer and department head for the new Rachel Zegler- and Tom Blyth-helmed production — which takes place 64 years before Katniss enters the arena — director Francis Lawrence wanted the fashion and beauty looks to be more “dark and gritty” compared to the OG films, with modern twists on the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, depending on the setting. The clothes, hair, and makeup are still meant to feel futuristic compared to what audiences are used to IRL, but much more buttoned-up than the wild styles seen during the J.Law era. Think Old Hollywood glamour, but with red eyeshadow or a holographic liner.
The makeup on Zegler’s nomadic Lucy Gray Baird, who’s served up as the female tribute from District 12 à la Katniss, was kept fairly realistic. “‘What would she have access to?’” Berman Laurence thought at the time. “Bugs and coal — that could be her eyeliner; the stains on her cheeks could be raspberries, and beetles for the holographic eyeliner.”
Blyth’s Capitol-bred Snow doesn’t experiment too much in the makeup department, but TikTok’s having a field day with his Panem-meets-Eminem (aka Paneminem) haircut later in the film, which hair department head Nikki Gooley says was “definitely a coincidence.” The team bleached the natural brunette actor’s hair (every two weeks, mind you) to make it more in line with the character’s tresses in the OG series. “Donald Sutherland, [who played] the older dictator Snow in the other films, is very blond, so we needed [Blyth] to match as the younger blond teenager,” she explains.
Where the team got playful was with Hunter Schafer’s Tigris. Though the character’s look in the prequel (below, left) is much more toned down in contrast to how she appears in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (right, played by Eugenie Bondurant) — where her face is reconstructed and tattooed to look like an actual tiger — Berman Laurence still wanted to show how the character was on the path to feline modifications.
“I plucked [Schafer’s] eyebrows to a very severe cat-like pointed shape,” the MUA tells Elite Daily. “Then we bleached them out, almost invisible — just to give a little nod to the beginning stages of what she ends up becoming 60 years later.”
Gooley also points out the correlation between the character’s past and present mane: “I feel like we were able to give a unique beginning, but with some small nods to Tigris with her lush hair.”
Jason Schwartzman’s Lucky Flickerman also pays homage to a character in the original films. The Hunger Games host starts out as a “drab weatherman and very frumpy,” says Berman Laurence. As the Games become more commercialized, the makeup artist added heavy face makeup, bronzer, eyeliner, and lip stain, while Gooley made his hair bigger to represent the progression the show takes into becoming a true spectacle.
“Lucky’s hair had a story,” says the hair designer. “It grew in size, and paid homage to Caesar Flickerman,” Stanley Tucci’s THG character, who’s thought to be a descendant of Schwartman’s.
“In the beginning, we didn't really correct him,” Berman Laurence explains of Lucky’s original lackluster look. “Then we added a layer of pancake makeup and bronzer. By the final look, it was eyeliner and lip stain and a lot more extreme, leaning more toward what Caesar Flickerman looked like, just to show the progression of where the Capitol was going.”
Everyone’s hair and makeup come together to create characters you’ll love to hate and hate to love in a film evocative of what audiences know and have been obsessed with, while also revealing a completely new story.
Watch the 10th annual Hunger Games unfold when The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes hits theaters on Friday, Nov. 17.