Westworld is inching towards its massive Season 4 finale. The dystopian science-fiction epic has been airing on HBO since 2016, occupying the coveted Sunday evening time slot. The Evan Rachel Wood-led series has spared no expense either, as Westworld is estimated to drop upwards of $8 million per episode. Regardless of the hefty budget, its high costs are put to good use, as Westworld has successfully immersed viewers in a blast from the past location filled with humanoid hosts, which are artificial creations that populate the theme park.
These hosts are played by actors, but they are truly brought to life by the show's hair and makeup team. Speaking to ComicBook.com, the show's hair and makeup team detailed how their Westworld journeys have transformed since Season 1.
"In the past years I've been working with Elisa [Marsh] as her key or her designer for certain aspects," special effect makeup department head Jennifer Aspinall said. "And then this year I got the opportunity to take over the department, the special effects department, and work with Jason [Collins] collaboratively designing and building and running that part of the show. So for me, it's been a great journey because I've gotten to do lots of different aspects and contribute in different ways. It's been a really fun run. Because I've been doing different things for the show, for me it's been different every year."
"I was initially key hair on the pilot, which was shot in 2014, I believe," hair department head Jose Zamora said. "This season I was department head. It has been quite a journey getting to this point. For the pilot, my department head, our team, and I created the wild west looks. For Season 4, my team and I got to create a new world along with a world for [Charlotte] Hale (played by Tessa Thompson). Both worlds were so much fun to make."
While Westworld has many consistencies, the series continues to push boundaries with each episode. Season 4 brings in drones for a big battle, which was something that special makeup effects designer Jason Collins recalled as being quite the challenge.
"When we have moments like that, we don't have much time with the main talent there. And so we have to get them in and get them out pretty quickly," Collins said. "And we have to sort of get a plan going. And luckily, Jen comes from the live TV world, Saturday Night Live, Mad TV where she did a lot of stuff like that. So we were able to sort of nip some time off some of that stuff, creating some shortcuts and things."
While Westworld is known for its wild west setting, this season ventures to 1920s Chicago. Makeup department head Elisa Marsh noted that her team deep dives into historical research for accuracy, but also puts their own unique spins on the various character designs.
"We went to historical reference, lots of black and white photos, some old Hollywood photos, a lot of prohibition news photos for the realism for the men," Marsh said. "And again, it's a theme park. So you have what would be true period, a hundred percent. And then you have how we veer off a little bit, which is either just a pure design choice or a story choice. I start with real historical reference and then jump off if you choose."
"In order to achieve the 20s, Elisa and I got together weeks before prep and researched 1920s hair and makeup," Zamora added. "We both have a great collection of classic Hollywood books and images that we've collected throughout the years. We then had a camera test with Thandiwe [Newton] and Aaron [Paul], where I tried several 20s styles on Thandiwe until we were happy with her look. Since it is a theme park of sorts, the showrunners wanted to see almost a variety of 20s along with more of an avant-garde red carpet look for the guests and our knock-offs."
1920s Chicago allowed the hair and makeup team to flex their creative muscles, and they are all ready to continue venturing towards new locations.
"I'm currently a little obsessed with the 60s and 70s," Marsh said. "I don't think there's going to be like a Woodstock Westworld, but that would be fun."
"I'd like us to go to the medieval times," Aspinall added.
Ooh, I would love to see the medieval world," Zamora agreed. "Like in the original film Westworld or an Elizabethan
world would be incredible."
"I'd like to spend more time in the 20s. That is my favorite time period. Like we're saying, it's a time period of great art, of great style, of great production design. But I also love the old west," Collins said. "So what I don't want them to do is go into the 80s and 90s of my youth because then I truly feel old. So I think keeping it in the past past is fine with me."
The Westworld season finale airs tonight, August 14th.