We are never not amazed at the comedic genius that goes into Saturday Night Live, but watching Kate McKinnon’s SNL makeup transition from her Jeff Sessions character into a crazy looking mermaid from earlier this month will make you want to bow down. To McKinnon for being so awesome, and to her entire makeup crew, who completed the crazy intricate makeup in just one commercial break.
Sure, when you’re watching TV, commercial breaks seem like they last forever, but in reality, it’s just a little over four minutes. On March 11th, McKinnon had to go from old man Sessions on “Weekend Update” right into the “Tales from the Sea” skit, where she played Shud, a pretty grotesque (and all around odd) sea creature.
It’s not like they just had to add some eyeliner and seaweed to her hair, either. No, Shud was a full on facial reconstruction, with a huge, bulbous nose, new hair, and she also somehow had to slip into a body suit, too. Talk about intense.
The team obviously does dress rehearsals, so they’ve been able to practice applying the masks and running around, but it is a lot of work.
With that kind of pressure, we’d be snapping at people left and right, telling people to hurry up with the bronzer (or let us take a pee break!) but McKinnon is the epitome of calm, letting the makeup team work their magic while mentally preparing herself.
Of course, the stars of SNL are the main attraction, but the behind-the-scenes crew deserve a round of applause.
Earlier this year, NBC released a video with Jodi Mancuso and Louie Zakarian, two long-time SNL make-up artists, showing how they transformed McKinnon into Hillary Clinton and Alec Baldwin into Donald Trump. Apparently, a lot more goes into transforming Baldwin into Trump than just a little orange bronzer and a wig. There have been a lot of actors who’ve played Trump in the past, but each one gets a little input into their makeup. Baldwin reportedly wanted to go full-on Trump with big bushy eyebrows, thinning hair, and at one point even suggested getting painted orange.
The makeup team and Baldwin met somewhere in the middle, but the wig alone took about 50 hours to make, according to Zakarian. He joked that the president “probably does his hair in five minutes, and it took me a whole day to get it.” For McKinnon’s Hillary hair, they had to downsize the amount of hair a bit, since McKinnon is pretty petite and any wig just looks ridiculously large on her head. And although they go heavy on the makeup, the created Clinton’s lipstick looks with easy to remove shades, so that when she had to be transformed again, they weren’t fighting to get rouge out.
As much as we love McKinnon and the rest of the SNL cast, it’s becoming pretty clear that there is at least as much talent in the costuming and makeup department.