A prequel set 64 years before "The Hunger Games," “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” explores Coriolanus Snow’s rise to power as he mentors District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird in the 10th annual Hunger Games.
The movie adaptation, directed by Francis Lawrence, recently made its way to cinemas in November 2023. The film’s Department Head Hair Designer Nikki Gooley (@nikkigooleymakeup) sat down with Beauty Launchpad to discuss her inspiration for bringing the hair looks to life in the film.
Beauty Launchpad (BLP): How did you get involved in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”?
Nikki Gooley (NG): I met with the costume designer Trish Summerville, we had a long discussion about the look and went from there.
BLP: Once you joined the team, what did the process look like for starting to craft and develop the hair looks for the film?
NG: I had many discussions with Trish, Francis Laurence and Sherri Berman, the makeup designer. Trish had been prepping the film for quite some time before makeup and hair were involved, so I was guided by some of her concepts. I put together a mood board of hair colors and shaped and developed them according to Francis’ direction and what the actors' hair was like to begin with.
BLP: Did the hair looks in the other Hunger Games films play a role in how you chose to style the hair for the characters in this film?
NG: Not really because this was post-war and pre-Capitol, but we matched young Coriolanus' hair color to that of Snow played by Donald Sutherland.
BLP: Did anything from the book stand out to you in how you chose to bring the characters’ looks to life on screen?
NG: Each district has different attributes depending on their wealth, so it was nice to tie in buttons and ribbons or super styled hair if they were from the capitol and Lucy Gray’s natural hair from the Covey.
BLP: What other influences played a role in the hair looks for this film?
NG: The film is set about 60 years previous to the original trilogy, so we went for a 1940s influence with a modern twist.
BLP: This film sets the foundation for the world of Panem. What role did you see the hair looks playing in this regard?
NG: It was post-war/dystopian, so some looks were military and some newer Capitol styles were ‘40s – beautifully structured hairstyles to show wealth.
BLP: Tom Blyth’s Coriolanus Snow has three major hair changes throughout the movie, mirroring the three parts of the book. How did you see the changing hair looks for his character reflecting his evolution into the villain/antagonist viewers are familiar with?
NG: He starts as a student at the Academy, so wanted to give him a private school boy vibe with loose blonde hair. Then, being a Peacekeeper, he has a buzz cut, which we had to bleach every 2 weeks for regrowth as he is a natural level 4. We then had a wig made for pickups 6 months later, as Tom couldn’t shave his head for that. His final look was high and tight to represent the power of the dictator he set to become.
BLP: What would you say were some of the challenges in bringing these hair looks to life on screen?
NG: Because we filmed out of sequence, it was always a challenge to have several looks for Snow.
BLP: Did you have a favorite character to style? Which one and why?
NG: They were all pretty fabulous! I am proud of Dr. Gauls' look, and I love how natural we could have Lucy's hair. Lucky Flickerman was also a lot of fun in the way it grows throughout the games.
BLP: What were some of the go-to products you used to bring these looks to life?
NG: Eleven Australia moisture surge shampoo and conditioner, Leonor Greyl anti-frizz serum and MOFO Australia MISTY HYDRO Spritz, which is for the face but also great in textured hair for curl and moisture – a win, win!
BLP: What tips do you have for other stylists who may be interested in pursuing hair for film?
NG: Collaboration, taking direction and thinking outside the square is a good start!