Hair, Ripped from the Headlines
It was a tabloid-circulated image seen round the world: legendary producer and songwriter Phil Spector and his foot-high hair teased to the courtroom ceiling as he sat trial for second degree murder. ”That was the model for this story,” said Cydney Cornell, the hairstylist who, alongside wig maker Renate Leuschner, helped transform Al Pacino into the title character for David Mamet?s new HBO movie. ”That was something that we had to build up to. It was softer and more realistic at the beginning and it got bigger and bigger and bigger. My research came from headline pictures, and I watched a lot of videotape so I could see what the back [of each hairstyle] looked like.” As for the curls? ”I permed it myself!” declared Leuschner, who created the style on a wig block before handing it over to Pacino for fittings.
Choosing the Locks
”In David Mamet’s script, every scene it said, ‘Phil Spector in yet another wig,?” remembered Cornell. How exactly did the team narrow down the field of Spector’s over-the-top styles? ”I printed big pictures and brought them to Al. He was very excited. Of course, he was familiar with several of the looks because he had been watching tapes of Phil to prepare for his part.” Cornell and Leuschner worked with the makeup and wardrobe departments to match the wigs to Pacino’s facial hair and costumes.
”Everybody knows Phil Spector wore wigs, but it was the first time [in my career] that I replicated wigs for a person who everyone knew was wearing a wig,” said Cornell, who also worked in the hair department on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. ”Sometimes you’re doing a character where there’s a big fantasy wig and it’s obvious, but it?s a unique situation to make a wig look like a wig, because usually you?re not.” Added Leuschner, who consulted with Spector’s real-life wigmaker to re-create his hair pieces; ”When Phil Spector started wearing wigs, he had these cheap wigs and Cydney decided she wanted to put some of those cheap wigs in the movie. I remember saying, ‘I hope nobody thinks I made those wigs!’ Apparently [the real Spector] lost his hair very early on in life. I guess when he got more money he decided to invest in wigs that were exquisitely made. He just had fun with it.”
The Creative Process
Both Cornell and Leuschner, who have been collaborating on movie hairstyles since 1987, have worked on Pacino films, but Spector was their biggest challenge yet. Leuschner designed 12 different wig styles in under four weeks. ”I have a block that I molded after Mr. Pacino’s head. When you first meet an actor, you take the measurements of his head to get the shape of it. In this instance I had six different blocks from the master block I made up so that Cydney could style wigs that were already finished.” Leuschner said. ”It takes about 60 working hours to make each one, and hair is very expensive.” One thing that helped save time was Pacino’s trust in the team ”Mr. Pacino was very busy so he said, ‘You just do it and we’ll see it at the test,”’ Leuschner remembered.
Transforming Al Pacino
”Al doesn’t put the wigs on and feel silly, he puts them on and really tries to feel the character, who he is, why he looks that way, what story that tells,” said Cornell. Did Pacino have a favorite style? ”He really liked the blonde page boy, he actually got attached to it. The fact that the wigs were a character in this movie was really a unique situation. I’ll probably never get a job that was that much fun with such a great actor and such a great writer where there was so much demanded of me and I was allowed to do it. It was such a great opportunity.”