Are you watching Mare of Easttown on HBO? If you are, I bet you're enjoying the thick Philly accents, twisty mystery, and portrait of the opioid crisis in America. As a former resident of small-town Pennsylvania, I think they get a lot right.
One of the best parts, for me, is how accurate the hair and costuming are on every character. These people look like the folks I grew up with, the ones who dressed in outfits bought at the Franklin Mills Mall.
As Kate Winslet told IndieWire earlier this month, "Mare Sheehan is—she’s kind of disgusting.”
That's actually a compliment to the character design.
“She’s a hot mess most of the time, she doesn’t give a shit what she looks like, she’s kind of stopped caring what people even think about her," Winslet said. "We made decisions creatively that this was a woman who looked at herself in the mirror when she brushed her teeth in the morning and would not look in the mirror again [all day]. That’s just who she is. That’s like most busy mothers I know—that’s like me. It really is.”
The busy mother character without glamour is one we rarely see on TV. When it came time to craft her off of the page, Winslet had help from the series’ lead hairstylist Lawrence Davis. Davis elaborated on this work during an interview with Insider.
“When I came on board, I was told bed hair for everyone," he said. “I was basically told that everybody has bed hair… Everybody was basically, you know, get up and go, and that was the whole feel of it. But I was basically told from day one: ‘Bed hair,’ and I had to ride with that.”
This seems like a hilarious request, but it actually really builds out the character. We see Mare as a woman stretched thin, choosing work over everything else. It's not just about appearance, but also the ethos she carried with her. We need to get the sense that she's not sleeping well, obsessing over a case where it's hard to find answers.
So the next time you get to work on an idea, think about how hair, makeup, and clothing style can take your idea over the top and communicate the character to the audience.