A client settles into your chair, exclaiming, “Make me look like a real basterd!” How to respond? “You say, ‘Right away!’” laughs Emanuel Millar, hair department head of the upcoming flick, Inglorious Basterds.
Set during World War II, Basterds centers on a group of Jewish-American soldiers (aka “The Basterds”) who take a violent stand against the Nazi regime. Millar, who previously worked with the movie’s director Quentin Tarantino on both Kill Bill sets, was faced with the thrilling task of styling the picture’s stars, including Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Eli Roth, and Diane Kruger.
So how does one begin transforming an actor into a basterd? Millar flipped through a plethora of magazines and fashion books from the ’40s to get a real feel for the looks he wanted to re-create. “But in every movie I do, it really comes down to character—that’s why I love creating for cinema! It gives you a chance to explore who a person is, and really showcase how transformative a hairstyle can be.” For instance, while Kruger’s Veronica Lake-inspired coif remains relatively consistent throughout the film (she portrays actress Bridget von Hammersmark), Laurent’s ’do transforms, mirroring her character’s rise from persecution.
And not to tread on Tarantino’s toes, but Millar also helped the actors get in character by primarily styling with products that were available during WWII. “I used a bunch of Murray’s Pomade on the men, which Brad loved,” Millar dishes. “I styled the women’s hair with a Marcel iron; it made their waves and curls fall beautifully.”
Asked about the key to his success (look Millar up on IMDB and you’ll see a seemingly endless reel), he smiles: “I love, love, love what I do! Hopefully, audience members will be able to see my passion once they watch the film. If I haven’t helped directors and moviegoers fully realize any particular character—even those in the background—then I haven’t done my job.”