In a MEGA exclusive interview, the artist shared what it is like to work as a part of the team behind the series and how she created a defining look that is new yet nostalgic to the originals
The bewitching beauty seen throughout every adaptation of The Addams Family was impossible to resist. In 1938, Charles Addams introduced the clan in a series of single-panel cartoons with a macabre matriarch punctuating the gothic allure. Meanwhile, it was in 1964 when Carolyn Jones was named the first Morticia Addams, prefacing the character’s signature pale skin, waist-length black hair, and a skintight black gown. Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 film was also hard to miss with Anjelica Huston and Christina Ricci solidifying the gothic visual equation, which soon earned its iconic status.
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In recent times, the Addams Family received a Tim Burton interpretation in the Netflix series, Wednesday. True to its creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky appeal, the show’s hair and makeup designer, Tara Mcdonald, introduced a fresh take on the clan’s signature look. “I wanted every character to look beautiful. I wanted a strong iconic look for each one,” she shared in an exclusive MEGA interview. “I wanted to be true to the original Addams family, but equally, I wanted to tweak them a little to give this generation their own Wednesday and Morticia.”
Naming the artist
“I started work as a makeup artist in the late ’90s,” she began. Tara Mcdonald made a name for herself as a hair and makeup designer in the film and television industry for over 25 years. “I began my career in light entertainment, news, political, and sports shows. I wanted to work in film and TV, though. I wanted to be a part of the process of creating characters.” The artist shared that her biggest breakthrough was in 2003 with the film My Summer of Love. “It was Emily Blunt’s first movie. It was a huge success and it went on to win a BAFTA. Thankfully, I never looked back!”
As time went on, Tara continued to strive and work on notable projects and stars including Catherine Zeta-Jones in the period film Dad’s Army. “I adore anything glamorous,” she said when asked about her favorite beauty direction. “I worked with Catherine Zeta-Jones a few years ago on the period film Dad’s Army. It was set in the 1940s. After that, I was offered quite a bit of period work. There is nothing I enjoy more than a few ’40s and ’50s makeup—especially if it’s allowing me the opportunity to make the actress look beautiful.”
The artist holds an impressive portfolio with her works seen in films and show like Ginger and Rosa, Submarine, What’s Love Got To Do With It, and Wednesday.
On working on the series
Morticia and Wednesday are the focus of every iteration’s beauty direction. However, in the series, Tara Mcdonald masterfully created a visual signature for every character. Gwendoline Christie’s character Larissa Weems is modeled after Hitchcock heroines with a defining red lip to complete her look, while Christina Ricci made a case for copper hair and nude lipstick. In contrast to Wednesday’s woeful appeal is Enid who embodies a more playful approach to beauty, and Bianca who encapsulates a true siren allure. However, we can all agree that the show’s true beauty maven is Thing, who equally admires manicures and hand creams like most of us do.
Tim Burton and Tara Mcdonald’s vision for the beauty department is an equal part of woeful yet alluring, an aspect that stayed true to the single-strip comic. “Working with Tim Burton was a huge honor. I adore his films and their aesthetic,” the artist expressed. “It was a dream come true to get the call for Wednesday. The cast were wonderful. It was a joy to work with all these young actors.”
On creating a look for Christina Ricci
One of the show’s highlights was the return of Christina Ricci who originally portrayed Wednesday Addams in 1991 The Addams Family and 1993 The Addams Family Values. This time around, the actress took a new role as Marilyn Thornhill. “This was a fun character to create. Thornhill/Laurel Gates was to look like a normie!” Tara shared. “I wanted her to look to be heightened, though to keep in line with the look of the rest of the characters. We played around with different hairstyles and finally settled on the bright red wig. Her makeup was natural (ish). There was a cartoonish element to her look, though.”
On creating Wednesday’s signature look
“I wanted a ‘fresh’ goth aesthetic for her,” she began. It’s no secret that the beauty direction for Wednesday Addams made fans admire the concept of soft goth beauty. Aside from her classic braided pigtails and her Kubrick stare, plump lips became the woeful character’s new beauty signature. “I wanted a ‘just bitten’ look for Wednesday’s lips. We used a lip liner and lip balm on Jenna,” the artist explained.
In a previously-released article, Tara unveiled the exact lip products used on the show, but when asked for the technique in recreating the look, she shared, “For a stronger more polished look, outline the lip with the lip liner. Color in the lips with the pencil from the corners of the mouth towards the center—like an ombré effect. If you want a softer version, then use a lip brush to diffuse and blend the lip liner. Finish with balm all over.” The artist also unveiled the trick for achieving a more natural finish. “Mix your favorite lip liner—we used Mac Nightmoth—and a balm together. To do this, you draw a little on the back of your hand and add a little balm. Mix together with a lip brush, [and] dab the mixture on your lips either with the brush or your finger! [We used Dr. Paw Paw clear balm] as it’s the perfect consistency for this application.“
Photos from WEDNESDAY NETFLIX and TARA MCDONALD