When ‘The Morning Show’ Ventured Into the Heat, the Makeup Needed Its Own Cooler SuperNayr

In “The Morning Show,” viewers get a glimpse of the glamorous and grueling nature of producing national morning news shows through fictional UBA network anchors Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon). 

Season 3 of the Apple TV+ drama sees UBA anchors and executives in multiple new locations beyond their home base of New York City, from Texas to the Hamptons to Montana (and even space!). These environments impacted the work of makeup department head Cindy Williams in unexpected ways.

“When we are shooting in heat, we carry coolers to store the makeup in. Otherwise, it melts,” Williams told IndieWire. “We have hand fans and try to keep them as cool as possible because otherwise, the makeup will disintegrate in extreme heat.”

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Gary Oldman plays Jackson Lambe in 'Slow Horses,' shown here walking through a park with an ice cream cone

The location also informs Williams’ makeup design for the characters. For Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies), an anchor and Bradley’s lover, Williams created a softer look for her time at her Montana ranch during the pandemic in contrast to her elevated anchor makeup for New York City.

“Anchor makeup is heavier. [There’s] more shading, highlighting, eye makeup, and stronger color for the cheeks, lip, and brow,” said Williams. “When she’s in the countryside, she’s more natural. [When all of the anchor characters are] at home, it’s about making the skin look as natural and dewy as possible. Everything is toned down.”

Williams notes that a simpler design still involves many details. She and her team use items like tinted lip gloss and mascara to achieve the “I’m not wearing anything” look, and Williams works closely with the lighting team and director of photography to ensure the real-life makeup scheme translates to the camera.

“We have to consider lighting, the color of the room, of the floor, and what they’re wearing,” said Wiliams. “Certain things show up on camera that don’t show up to the eye, so we might look behind the camera [to check]. If they have dark circles under their eyes, we will ask, ‘Can you throw light on here?’” 

But sometimes Williams adds makeup to create dark undereye circles, like for Mia Jordan (Karen Pittman). Like location impacting the makeup for Marguiles’ character, Williams switched up the look for Pittman’s character to underscore what was going on for the character plot-wise.

“She was more put together in the last season,” Williams said. “She’s now always under stress because of her job promotion, so she’s tired. She’s been up all night, and she doesn’t have the time to do as much because she’s under a lot of pressure.”

Jon Hamm looking stern on The Morning Show
‘The Morning Show‘Apple TV+

Williams and her team also take cues from the hair and wardrobe departments. They work closely to develop a character’s overall look with the directors and writers, and take careful notes about any physical shifts or changes that need to align with how the plot affects the character. Like with the arrival of Jon Hamm’s character Paul Marks, a tech billionaire who is considering buying UBA, as he shakes things up in the world of morning television. Facial hair is in Williams’ domain, and if Marks is supposed to be clean-shaven one day and have stubble the next, William is tasked with maintaining continuity. 

“It’s hard to change facial hair with TV because you don’t shoot in order,” said Williams. “You may have to go beard, no beard, beard. It’s a big challenge to keep track of it all. We have books and take notes and pictures on what we do so we can refer back to it.”

One of the key skills Williams has developed during her time working in makeup is on-the-fly problem-solving. The ability to pivot while on set has proven beneficial, whether it’s working with lighting or finding quick corrective makeup solutions to skin issues. This way, she can ensure the actors’ looks align with both the glamor and the grit of “The Morning Show.” 

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