If you came to Elizabeth Rex last year you’ll remember two things: Colleen Wheeler’s moving performance as Queen Elizabeth I and… her extraordinary wig. That wig, along with all of our Bard wigs last season, was created by the talented and much sought-after wigmaker Stacey Butterworth. Last year, as well as working at Bard, Stacey worked on the film American Hustle – up for 10 Oscar nominations this year! We managed to grab a few minutes of Stacey’s time to find out more about life as a wigmaker and how she created Christian Bale’s unforgettable comb-over.
How did you become a wigmaker?
My aunt was a milliner at Covent Garden Opera in London. She got me my first apprenticeship in wig making. I needed to have my hairdressing license before I was accepted to the program so I commuted from Delta, where I grew up, to the Robson Street location of the Raymond’s Academy. You cannot be a competent wigmaker if you don’t understand hair and you need to have the education behind you. Experience comes with time… education comes first.
How did you get the gig on American Hustle?
I work on many films in the US. There was a producer on American Hustle I had worked with before and the key hairstylist and I have done many films together: for example, Moneyball with Brad Pitt in a wig, Ender’s Game with Viola Davis in a wig, and (coming out soon) Foxcatcher with both Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller in my wigs.
What was it like working with amazing cast of American Hustle?
I always work closely with the actors – I have to. I make the wigs in my studio in Lions Bay where I live and then I am on set for fittings and camera tests. Everything we did on American Hustle was last minute and I was there on location in Boston. Christian Bale’s now famous comb-over was created on the spot and I had very little time prepare it. For Jennifer Lawrence’s wig, we had a fair bit of prep time. Meetings about looks for films start months in advance. There were so many wigs in that film, and what a great time we had. I have such a great job!
Apart from Bard, what else are you working on?
Right now I am working on two features in Toronto, a huge film here in Vancouver (that I’m not supposed to talk about!), Helen Lawrence at the Arts Club which opens in March, and prepping the next two productions at Vancouver Opera. People often ask my why I work in theatre after accomplishing so much in film. The venue, whether it is a small stage or a huge sound stage, doesn’t matter to me. My team and I bring the same level of quality to everything we do. Something gets lost when your motivation to create is driven by money or some other gratification you’re trying to obtain. I do what I do because I love it; it’s as simple as that.
Phew, that’s one busy gal! You can check out more about Stacey’s work on American Hustle here and of course see her fabulous work for yourself this coming summer at Bard.
[Images courtesy of Sony Pictures / Columbia Pictures]