Wigging out on Schitt's Creek: Meet the hairstylist behind Moira's 'most insane' look yet
The audience — those in attendance and those watching from home — all gasped when Moira Rose (Catherine O'Hara) walked into the room. As the officiant of her son's wedding in the series finale of Schitt's Creek, the doors flew open and she emerged serving the kind of high-fashion papal realness one might find in Lady Gaga's "Judas" video... or a Vatican LGBTQ Pride float, if that was ever a thing.
Noah Reid (Patrick) referred to this costume as her "Viking pope" look. Annie Murphy (Alexis) calls the religious experience O'Hara's "most insane costume yet." Series co-creator Dan Levy (David) considers it "the crowning sartorial achievement of the series." However you want to describe this wedding attire, the glory goes in part to Ana Sorys, O'Hara's longtime hairstylist on the show and the unofficial "wig technician" of Schitt's Creek.
Since the start of season 3, Sorys has been serving looks through Moira's collection of wigs, each one more over the top than the last. Having the character sport such fabulous locks — like the so-named Kristen, Robin, and all the others — was O'Hara's idea. The actress of Best in Show, Home Alone, and Beetlejuice also picked which wig to wear most times. But it's Sorys who facilitated the vision.
EW wigged out with the Schitt's Creek wig whisperer about Moira basically becoming The New Pope, Sorys' work on the show, and, more importantly, what happens to all these wigs now that the series is over.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After all of this, are you adding “wig technician” to you resume?
ANA SORYS: Yeah. I mean, that was one thing that I really appreciate about working with Catherine. She really had me thinking outside the box in terms of all of the wig work. It was always a very creative challenge that I looked forward to. Most of the time she left everything up to me, so it was awesome.
Do you have any specific examples of how you had to think outside of the box?
We would turn wigs upside down and we would turn them right-side up, and I would make pieces from scratch. For instance, the wedding hair. Basically, that was 40 inches and then I added another 20 inches of hair to the bottom. I did that last minute. I said to Dan, "I think it should be longer." I made her hair piece out of stuffed pantyhose and then I had to wrap hair around and glue it on and measure her head. Things like that. Things that people haven’t really seen before, but it makes total sense for the character.
I had proposed this idea of doing a halo crown made out of hair, and I had shown Catherine some references. When I started making it, I thought it was gonna be easy, just wrap it around. It was like, "No way." I tried to sew it. I tried to glue it. I tried everything to wrap that hair around that halo. It wasn’t until the night before where Dan saw me working on it. He said, "You’ve been working on this for weeks and, honestly, if it doesn’t work, it’s okay." I was like, I am not taking that. I can’t. I have to have this done. I want this to work. Finally, I ended up getting this great glue that I used to put my tiles down in my kitchen. That’s the only thing that worked that wouldn’t interfere with the color of the hair, darkening or leaving any residue. It was just the most perfect thing, and that was the last thing I tried the night before I had to have it prepared for Catherine. It was just beautiful and crazy at the same time.
It sounds like the process evolves as you’re preparing for the episodes.
Yeah. There’s only a few times where her wigs were written into the script, like the crow [wig] for instance. That had to be pre-planned and talked about. Other than that, my last season, I started off with about 25 wigs, and Catherine and Dan had no idea what I was gonna bring to the table. They trust me with the process. I shop for them all year round. I set them all up and Catherine just chooses one when she’s in the mood. It’s more of a feeling when she puts on a wig than is ever planned.
What would say has been the most unique place that you’ve been able to shop for a wig for the show?
I remember I was working on the Junos in Ontario. It’s Canada's Grammys. It was shot out in this middle of nowhere. So, I’m driving in this little town and I see this huge sign in February and it says "Wigs." I walk in and it’s like a time machine took me back to the '70s. It had been a place that wasn’t renovated since then and it had the most original amazing pieces. I tend to go into places like that or shop online. I bought some wigs from Japan. I spend all year researching. I’ll go into crazy wig shops in New York when I’m doing press, and in California, too. It’s so much fun.
What’s a snapshot like of the general process of choosing a wig for Catherine to wear?
Like I said, this season I started off with about 25 wigs. So, I had 25 mannequin wigs and I set them all up. I think there was only one where Dan was like, "Okay, that might be a bit much," just because it was the color of a [traffic cone] and all the other ones were extremely different from each other. It was almost as if I had provided enough craziness and length and texture and color [that were] so different from the other years. There was always something that Catherine could pick from.
How does it compare to the experience of when you first started working on the show? What were those first conversations like?
I came in on season 3, so I did 3, 4, 5, and 6. I had watched the previous two seasons and also grown up watching Catherine’s career on SCTV and all the other features she’s done. She’s always been in wigs. So, I got an idea of the kind of interests that she has, just the oddity and unfamiliar... or the familiar things. Dan, during a meeting, said, "Just start off with 9 or 10 wigs," and that’s what I did. We’d keep our communication open, and I would say, "What do you think? You have this outfit on, what do you imagine?" A lot of stuff was done last minute.
Would you say the wig dictates the outfit or the outfit dictates the wig?
When you look at it, none of [the wigs] go [with the outfits]. What dictates her wigs is the mood that she’s in… unless it was a technical situation, like she was wearing a specific collar and the wig interfered. Then it would be a wardrobe thing and we would work around that. Usually she would know what she was wearing first.
What’s been the specific challenges with maintaining the wigs? I would imagine that they need to be stored and treated in a certain way.
Moira’s wigs will never be put on anyone else. I just could never do that. I have a hundred wigs that I store. I have a box of all of Moira's wigs and I have each of them labeled in bags and they are put away with netting and they are labeled by each episode and season.
Did you get a bigger budget for the final season to just go really crazy?
We’re always given a budget every season, but I never really go by that. When I shop for a wig, I look at how Catherine’s gonna feel in it as opposed to what we’re spending on it. Some wigs were $10 and some were hundreds. It’s just all over the place, whatever works.
Is there anything specific that defines what a Moira Rose wig is?
For instance, she has worn three green wigs in the past and I think she looks amazing in green. It’s this thing, I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because she’s got red lips and creamy skin, it just works. In the fifth season, she had this green curly wig that she wore in a scene with Dan when she was in the car and he was on the sidewalk and they were literally distant from each other talking. He didn’t want to get in the car with her. It was just the most natural hair, but you wouldn’t expect it to be ever in that color ever made. I think that’s what it is about Moira. It’s always the unexpected, like when she came out of the closet in the first episode of last season wearing that white poodle wig. You just never know. I never had a very natural wig on her. I think the most natural wig I had on her was her Sunrise Bay character, the red hair. But I think everything else had a real edge to it.
Was there a specific moment when you realized that all of these wigs were becoming a pop culture phenomenon?
I guess it would’ve been the third season when I made her this mullet. When they were buying their car, her and Johnny [Eugene Levy]. Everyone’s reaction to her wearing that wig, along with that accent she had made up, that was when I feel like it started to really get hyped up.
I saw that you were also working on The Great Canadian Baking Show with Dan. Is that how you got involved with Schitt’s Creek?
No. I worked with Dan at MTV when he was a host. So, I did his hair back then. He had asked me to work on the first season of Schitt’s Creek, but I had already started a project and I was going to Africa. So, it was just very tricky for me. It ended up being that the person who was doing hair left to go into a completely different career, so it was the perfect timing for me to come in.
Is there another project you’ve worked on that compares to the amount of wigs you had to deal with on Schitt’s Creek?
No. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever worked on or experienced, to tell you the truth. It’s a creative dream. I looked forward to going to work every single day. Everything was unexpected and I loved the challenges that I had. They made me better at what I do and how I think. Catherine, Eugene, and Annie were the people I looked after, doing their hair. They taught me so much about my job. Eugene was basically the best men's grooming teacher I ever had. When you think you know everything, you work with these legends. I loved learning their process of how to get into character. They wouldn’t leave the trailer unless they looked and felt like their character.
What are some of your other favorites?
I love the mint green one that she wore and I love the mullet. I love the pink one she wore. Also, the one where she performed with Dan and she used her hair as a scarf. It was super long, her hair went down to her knees and she wrapped it around like a scarf when she was performing.
What is gonna happen with all of these wigs now that the show is over?
I asked Catherine which ones she wanted. So, she took the pink one, ‘cause she really loves that one. Annie loved the mint green one, the cotton candy one. So she got to have one. The rest I have in my possession, and I’m pretty much in charge of them in case they need them for anything in the future.
I don’t know if this has been talked about, but I would love to see these wigs go on tour for a Schitt’s Creek exhibition.
Oh my god. That would be amazing.
It’s really crazy how these wigs have become superstars in their own right because of the show. What has been most surprising for you, having both worked on this show and witnessed what the show has become today?
It’s not that I find it surprising, but our fans are so nice. They sent me the nicest messages and they make the nicest GIFs. Somebody made a wallpaper out of Moira's wigs, every single one of her wigs. There’s another woman who made all these dolls out of yarn, scenes out of the show. People writing letters about how much the show has changed their lives. People writing to me who are cancer patients, asking about getting a wig and having it look like a wig, not having a wig that actually looks like their own hair but having fun with it. That aspect of it makes me happy. I feel like my job is making people happy.
For more on the Schitt's Creek series finale, listen to the EW On Set podcast in the player above or wherever you stream/download your podcasts.