Whoosh! Issue 54 - March 2001

By Bret Ryan Rudnick
Content copyright ©2001 held by author
Whoosh! edition copyright ©2001 held by Whoosh!
1910 words

Author's notes:

Jane O'Kane could herself easily grace the cover of any fashion magazine. She is as talented as she is chic, and she is the makeup supervisor at Pacific Renaissance Pictures. When I spoke to her in Auckland in November 2000, she was awash in hair, getting ready and making adjustments for THE GOD YOU KNOW (124/612) and YOU ARE THERE (125/13).

Pacific Renaissance Gig (01-04)
Challenges (05-07)
Tricks of the Trade (08-22)
CLEOPATRA 2525 (23-28)
Current Work (33-34)
Blood and Alex's "Hair" (35-40)

An Interview with Jane O'Kane (Makeup/Hair Supervisor)

She's the hairdresser who *does* know for sure!

Jane O'Kane, in her natural habitat (her office at Pacific Renaissance Pictures)

Pacific Renaissance Gig

How long have you been at Pacific Renaissance?

Pretty much since I arrived in New Zealand, which was six or seven years ago. I started on HERCULES and went on to XENA, then to JACK OF ALL TRADES and CLEO, then back to XENA. I took a year off to do another film, but really since I've lived here, Renaissance has been home.

What prepared you for such a career?

[4] O'KANE:
When I was a teenager I used to do amateur dramatics, so that was my introduction to that world. I was in front of the camera, but I always used to do hair and makeup for people on the set. I started getting work doing hair and makeup, so it just went from there. I don't really know how to do anything else. (laughs)


Along the way, I've seen some spectacular makeup on all the different shows. What were some of your biggest challenges?

Tell me if this tickles!

Full body makeup, such as used in the India arc, can take many hours to apply.

[6] O'KANE:
My passion for the job is changing people dramatically. I spent three years doing XENA second unit, which was probably more challenging than doing lead characters, when you're doing doubles. I've had people show up in shoulder length hair who were supposed to be doubling someone who was bald. I had half an hour to put his skullcap on and make it look presentable. Many times when you're doing makeup you don't get to use all the skills you've learn. Changing someone drastically, rather than just making them look beautiful, is really satisfying.

[7] I really like how amazing Lucy [Lawless] looked in WHO'S GURKHAN (116/604), and the cannibals this season [THE ABYSS (118/606)] turned out pretty well. There are a lot of Romans with big hair walking around the location ranch at the moment.

Tricks of the Trade

Do you find over time that you have to change someone's style or look to better enhance them?

Makes you want to look into Rogaine, doesn't it?

The ''real hair'' wigs are kept under lock and key because real hair is quite valuable.
Here are a series of wigs -- Hope in the middle, Gabrielle to the right of that, and Xena on the far right.

[9] O'KANE:
Definitely. Renee [O'Connor] is a good example of that. She's moved from one look to another, both in terms of costume and hair. There was a change in the character from Livia to Eve, and the actor was the same, so there was a move to a more "peace lover" look. [Adrienne Wilkinson]'s going through another change in coming weeks. Lucy is probably one of the least changed from the point of view of our department.

I'm sure many people would think it would be quite a pleasure to do makeup for Lucy because she ends up looking so amazing.

[11] O'KANE:
Totally. She's got a great start without any, but she's great to work with, as well as on.

Metal spike-wear not included

Tara's wig from FORGIVEN

I'm sure some make-up jobs are more arduous than others.

[13] O'KANE:
Definitely. We try not to do the long make-up jobs on Lucy or Renee for schedule reasons. They usually just don't have the time. Big make-up jobs are usually done on other cast. For Lucy in WHO'S GHURKAN, we had full Moroccan mendhi on her and that was unusual. We tend not to do more than an hour and a half for makeup on most characters. That's considered a long time.

[14] For Lucy and Renee, makeup usually takes around 45 minutes. That's reduced from how long it used to take, just to give them a little more personal time so they won't spend so many hours in the makeup chair.

I'm thinking that characters like the Mephistopheles character must be very grueling.

[16] O'KANE:
We worked with KNB (Effects company) on that. They do the really major prosthetics. In our department, we only go so far with them. The really huge prosthetic jobs are done by KNB. Things like that can take four or five hours.

In looking at your wall here, I see Lucy covered in mud. How do you do mud?

[18] O'KANE:
That's actually from Rotorua (hot springs in New Zealand). That's thermal mud. We've adapted that and I've mixed in pigment to create that color. I've also used natural clay to produce mud. We have a kitchen in this department, and we put things in mixing bowls sometimes. That was a big mixing job. The lady that did that for me had sore arms for a week.

I should have taken ''truth''

Renee also got a mudbath for THE ABYSS

You always use your own pigments to mix colors?

[20] O'KANE:
We use things that are skin-friendly and non-toxic. Quite a lot of the time we'll make our own things. We mix most of our own face makeup, blend it with sun block to create the texture and color we want.

You want something that will stay on and not irritate or produce a rash or anything like that.

[22] O'KANE:
Exactly. A face mud mask like that is uncomfortable to wear, but at least we know it's not going to damage the skin in any way.


I was impressed with a lot of the CLEOPATRA 2525 makeup that's been done. Creegan must have been a difficult character to work on. That chin.

Maybe BLACK SCORPION will get renewed and I can get a gig there!

Joel Tobeck worked hard to perfect the Creegan character, as the makeup people worked hard to perfect his makeup.

[24] O'KANE:
Rob Tapert had a very strong vision for how he wanted that character to look. We spent a lot of time on it. It's a tribute to the department that they worked on the chin and that got better over time.

I heard Danielle Cormack say at conventions that as the character Raina, she wore her "Lucy Lawless" wig.

You can pick up some cool jazz stations with this thing!

Danielle Cormack relished the Raina character.

[26] O'KANE:
(laughs) Yes, we wanted to give Danielle a very different look from what she had as the Ephiny character. She's got amazing hair. The obvious choice was to go long and straight and dark. We tried not to make it too "Xena," but it did look a little like that.

She said she really enjoyed wearing it.

[28] O'KANE:
You find that with actors: you change their look for them, and it helps them get into a different mindset for their character.


Did you find much of a change doing the makeup for JACK OF ALL TRADES, it being more of a period show?

Back off, Blondie, you're no Gabrielle!

Makeup was more historical on JACK OF ALL TRADES

[30] O'KANE:
That was good for me. My background in England was very much that sort of work. I was with a Shakespeare company and hair styling was right up my alley.

Did you make those wigs yourselves, in the department?

[32] O'KANE:
We did a lot of them. There's a wigmaker we use in New Zealand for synthetic wigs. Human hair wigs, I personally do quite a lot of that.

Current Work

What are you working on now?

[34] O'KANE:
I've just finished doing a couple of big jobs [THE GOD YOU KNOW (124/612) and YOU ARE THERE (125/613)]. The actor who plays the character of Archangel Michael (Charles Mesure) was doing a local production and had his hair cropped short, so I had to make up something to give him back his locks. And I had to work up a special wig for Aphrodite (Alexandra Tydings) as well. It arrived from England too small. Within a day's notice, I had to change it. It's been a bit of a hectic schedule. I get to do Amazon makeup in the next episodes, so no big hair there [PATH OF VENGEANCE (126/614) and TO HELICON AND BACK (127/615)]. Characters like Varia (Tsianina Joelson) are coming back. She won't have the blood smeared on her like before. This will be a gathering of Amazon queens and tribes.

Blood and Alex's "Hair"

How do you do blood?

Giving a whole new meaning to ''hung over''

Lucy patiently endured a tedious application of makeup for some scenes in WHO'S GHURKAN?

[36] O'KANE:
We mix it up ourselves. It's basically golden syrup and food coloring. Depending on the consistency needed, we've got varieties of blood. We've got thick blood, runny blood, blood that will run for a bit and stop. We do scars and scabs and lovely things like infected puss. We make all that ourselves. Renee has been very, very patient with things we've covered her in. Lucy doesn't even want to know ahead of time. We'll just do what we need to do. Lucy had a lot of work done for WHO'S GHURKAN where she had a prosthetic eye from being beaten up, and she had a lot of bruise makeup put on. But I hear a lot of that didn't get seen in the final version. She was really good and patient about all that.

There must be a lot of ordering to keep things in stock.

[38] O'KANE:
And organizing. It can be especially difficult if something comes in that doesn't work out. The American actors don't get here until about two days before shooting. So in the case of the Aphrodite wig that was too small, that was a problem and there was only a day to fix it. The measurements had been taken in L.A., and I had no control over that.

How did you solve it?

Lowers IQ by 20 points when worn

The infamous Aphrodite wig from THE GOD YOU KNOW

[40] O'KANE:
I cut it up the middle, and added a whole new section with new hair. We colored her hair to match the wig, so we could use her hair as well.


Schmoozer Spice Bret Ryan Rudnick
WHOOSH! staff
IAXS Executive Committee
"You can never have too much money or too many Amazons"
When he's not working for a big Science/Engineering company that (amongst other things) designs, builds, launches, and operates exploratory spacecraft, Bret writes fantasy novels and short stories. Bret is a man of many skills, having also previously been an Olympic-qualified archer, a drummer in the Butch Grinder Band, a news reader for Public Television Station KVCR, and a Deputy Sheriff for the County of San Bernardino, California. He also collects Japanese swords, armor, and art. He and his dog hunt down stray Bacchae in New England.
Favorite episode: HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110), WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP (30/206), and THE QUEST (37/213)
Favorite line: Xena: "What's this?" Gabrielle: "I'm... an amazon princess?" Xena (rolls eyes): "Great." HOOVES AND HARLOTS, 10/110; Xena after being goosed by Joxer: "Are you suicidal?" WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP (30/206); Joxer: "Ha. Ha." A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222); Autolycus: "I'm not just leering at scantily clad women, you know, I'm working!" THE QUEST (37/213)
First episode seen: CRADLE OF HOPE (04/104)
Least favorite episode: IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)

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