Judy Chin (Makeup - 'Frida')
’Not Just A Pretty Face!’
Judy Chin began her career as a makeup artist in New York City in 1988. With her career path allowing her to work with a variety of directors such as Hal Hartley, Jim Jarmusch, Darren Aronofsky, and Julie Taymor, Judy has also found work with an eclectic mix of actors that includes Isabelle Huppert, Ellen Burstyn, Christopher Walken, Salma Hayek and amongst others, both Forrest Whitaker and Sarah Jessica Parker on HBO’s ‘Sex & the City.’
Judy has headed the Makeup Department at HBO's ‘Sex & the City’ for the last three seasons and was recognized with an Emmy nomination in 2001. Later that year, and for the same show, she was the recipient of the 2001 Hollywood Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Guild Award and was also nominated by the Guild for both ‘Sex & the City’ and the movie ’Frida’ just this year. Amazingly, Judy was also honored to have received this year’s BAFTA Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for the aforementioned ’Frida’. Judy has also worked at the NYC Opera for the past four seasons.
Having been the Head of the Makeup Department on films such as ’Requiem for a Dream’, ‘Ghost Dog’, and ’Frida’, Judy has now turned her creative talents to the set of the upcoming movie, ’House of Sand and Fog’ starring Jennifer Connelly and Sir Ben Kingsley. She is also currently shooting the sixth season of ‘Sex & the City’ and is being honored by the ‘New York Women in Film and Television’ at this year's "Designing Hollywood" event.
I caught up with Judy as she took a quick break from the set of HBO’s ‘Sex & the City’ and first wondered where her inspiration, her passion for make-up had first originated. ”I would actually say that it was more a love and a passion for filmmaking and for painting, but I guess it started in Film School [School of Visual Arts] . I was attracted to the film department there and since I’ve always had a fine arts background it just seemed to fall into place. Doing make-up and being part of the filmmaking crew, I just loved it from there.”
You’ve worked with some famous directors in your short time, but which stand out and for what reasons? ”I would have to say my favorites are Jim Jarmusch and Darren Aronofsky. Their humor, their vision and just watching them deal with actors is just incredible. The way they communicate an idea or an image is just really wonderful And I loved being part of that.”
And who would you say has been some of your more pleasant movie star experiences? ”I would have to say Salma would be one of them definitely, Jennifer Connelly, and the girls from ‘Sex & the City’ are wonderful and a lot of fun to be with. I was in complete awe of Ben Kingsley. It was amazing to watch his work. You get chills,” she giggles.
With ‘Frida,’ you had to individually attach tiny hairs to fill out Salma’s naturally thick arch and I was just wondering how painstaking that was each time?! ”Well, we only had to do that for about a fifth of the time. Usually we had a small, little lace piece that was ventilated with angora and that was placed in the center and we filled it out with some hand-painted hairs as well as some individual hairs. But then when we did extreme close-ups, and for some of the photographs, the entire brow was hand laid with individual hairs at that time. It took time and effort, but a lot of times it was done very early in the morning. So Salma would just sit back and relax. So, it wasn’t too bad.”
What was one of the most challenging aspects you encountered with regard Salma’s makeup?? ”I think that one of the most challenging things to convey on Salma’s face, as she’s just so beautiful, was that I really wanted to try and make her look sickly and emotionally drawn. To mimic Frida’s look as closely as possible.”
Are you self-critical of your work after the fact? ”Yeah, I think I am. I’m happy with the work we did, but I think if I were to look at it again, I’d be like, ‘Oh, this could have been better’ and ‘Oh, that could have been better’,” she laughs. ”But, you do kinda have to walk away from it one day,” she again laughs.
You also did the make-up for ‘Ghost Dog’. What were your experiences from that set? ”Yeah, sometimes I feel like ‘Ghost Dog’ wasn’t seen enough! I was thrilled the whole time just to be around both Forrest Whitaker and Jim Jarmusch. Jim has been one of my idols since I was in school and I’ve always loved every frame of his movies and to get to meet him and work with him was just mind-blowing and great. He’s so funny, and dry! I just love him. And to sum it all up, he’s just really cool!”
You’ve worked on ‘Sex & the City’ for the last 3 seasons and now that it’s the 6th and final season, where does that leave you? Have you got another gig lined up?! ”Not just yet,” she laughs. ”Maybe a little vacation by then would be very welcomed, I’m sure. But, you never know what’s going to happen and sometimes there’s nothing on the horizon and the maybe two shows will pop up the next week. Whatever happens will be fine.”
When is the last day of filming that involves you? ”Some time in January.”
Any behind-the-scenes ‘Sex & The City’ gossip from this last season?! ”No,” she laughs. ”I don’t think the show will leave us with any unanswered questions or anything. I think this season the girls are dealing with a lot of realistic relationship issues, because in the past it’s all been about all those zany things that have happened! But, in this season we’re dealing with are real, honest, heartfelt issues that people experience in a day-to-day relationship.”
You’re being honored by ‘New York Women in Film and Television’ at this years ‘Designing Hollywood’ event on June 16th, but what did you feel when you were made aware of this fact? ”I wondered if they had the wrong person,” she genuinely laughs. ”In the past they’ve honored such wonderful, talented women and so when they asked me I was sincerely surprised and ultimately was very flattered and grateful.’
Who will you be taking?! ”Well, I had one complimentary ticket left and I asked my three siblings which one of them clowns wanted to go and surprisingly they all said they all wanted to go,” she laughs. ”So, now I think I have to find two more tickets!”
Tell me more about your work on the up-coming movie, ‘House of Sand and Fog’ ”Well, we finished it in December and I feel the movie has a very raw feeling to it. It’s very real so I tried to keep that in tact with the makeup. Jennifer’s character is a recovering alcoholic and so starting there, her character sort of goes through a little bit of a spiral. It ends hopeful, but that it all is displayed in her makeup and her health. Being hung over, tired, and drawn.”
Do you have any favorite movies that you can watch over and over again? ”'Once Were Warriors,’ ‘Local Hero’ is one of may favorites, ‘Dancer In The Dark,’ and ‘The Cell’."
Lastly, is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t discussed? ”The only thing is that a lot of times when people ask me about makeup so much of the time it’s really not, and it may sound terrible, but it’s not so much about the makeup. It’s more about telling a story for me. Which is why I love it, because that’s my way of participating in telling a story. And without that, I don’t know if I’d be that interested in actual makeup, you know what I mean?!”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
To win a Brand New DVD copy of the just-released 'Frida', just answer this easy question: Name the movie that Salma Hayek starred in as the character Rose in 2000.
Just send an e:mail to me with the subject title 'FRIDA' and your answer in the text to:
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