It took THREE hours to turn Margot Robbie into a pox-ridden Queen Elizabeth in Mary Queen of Scots

We meet the Oscar-winning makeup artist behind the look.

23 May 2019

Jenny Shircore is the Oscar-winning hair and makeup mastermind behind epic film, Mary Queen of Scots. The British artist, who was also responsible for turning Emily Blunt into Victoria, was the force responsible for transforming Saoirse Ronan into the naturally beautiful Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie into a blistered and scarred Elizabeth - both of which are testament to Shircore’s unique talent.

Here, Jenny speaks to GLAMOUR about getting Margot and Saiorse into character and the insane amount of hours it took to create the beauty looks. Plus, watch the video below of Margot and Saiorse discussing their transformative looks…

The makeup look needed to represent everything from their lifestyle, right down to what they ate and drank…

After researching the period, I worked very closely with the costume designer, director, actors and actresses and then we create the looks we want with makeup tests and hair tests before we actually get to the look that we want. I love every part of the process. I love the research, finding out about the society, the people, lifestyle, what they ate and drank, how they danced. The more research you have under your belt when you go into a film, the greater understanding you have of every character. I also love the test period where you’re experimenting and the excitement of shooting.


Margot had NINE wigs…

Saoirse and Margot both have to go through the same process where they have makeup and hair tests and then the wigs are made. Margot had up to nine wigs and Saiorse had two with a lot of hair pieces so they have to sit through all that and enjoy it. For this film, I wanted to do a specific thing with hair especially for Saoirse because normally when you see paintings of Mary Queen of Scots, you don’t see her hair, she wears a very tight headpiece. I took license for Mary Queen of Scots and gave her more elaborate hairstyles. With Saoirse, I worked more in the hairdressing look because we maintained her as a young girl all the way through with lovely fresh looking skin but with Margot we had a variety of looks to create. We start with her young then she has small pox and after the small pox, she’s scarred by it so we have various makeup looks and then we go into the heavy white look that she’s famous for.

We had to test out Margot’s beauty look on many models before her…

They were heavily involved. We try it all out on them. With the small pox, we had models come and sit with us while we practise the techniques but once we know what we’re doing then we have to try it on the actress. What you see it in the film has been tried and tested.

Doing the makeup look on Margot took THREE hours…

With the small pox look comes the thinning hair so we put on a bald cap first on margot’s head which eliminates all her own hair and then a thinning wig is put on top of that. That can take an hour and a half and then the small pox itself...I would say margot was in the chair up to 3 hours. We’ve given the actress the look for the character she’s playing and what is correct in her life at that point for her to walk onto the set. This is how Elizabeth was. Margot very much wanted this to be right. Her makeup and hair empowered her to go onto the set and feel like Elizabeth. When Elizabeth is in tears and her makeup is a bit cracked and running, I love that look.

Mary Queen of Scots is out now on Digital Download and available on DVD and Blu-Ray on 20th May 2019