You’re just as likely to find bottles of fake blood in Clover Wootton’s kit, as you are to spot a palette of trending lipsticks. The hair, make-up and prosthetic designer is Bollywood’s go-to person for a good on-screen transformation, and can create anything from hyper-realistic limbs to bloody battle wounds. Over the past five years, the British artist has gathered major cred for her work in films like Haider, Revolver Rani (she did Kangana Ranaut’s nose), Parched, Bajirao Mastani, and more recently for Anushka Sharma’s eerie makeover in Pari, and Ranbir Kapoor’s look for the biopic, Sanju. While she’s busy with upcoming projects (Sui Dhaga and Zero), Wootton talks to us about designing a realistic look for a film and her obsession with all things gory.
ELLE: How did you get your big break?
Clover Wootton: I was a fine art student (in UK) and got a chance to assist a make-up artist while I was travelling through India. I met a French prosthetics team on that film, and later worked with them in Paris, before training as a make-up artist. Then, by a stroke of luck, my prosthetic teacher was offered Krrish 3, and I was called in to assist him. After that, I just decided to continue working here.
ELLE: What goes into coming up with a film character’s look?
CW: [Sanju] was challenging, because I never grew up watching Sanjay Dutt. I spoke to the crew to understand their views on him, and watched some old footage. Finally, we got something that worked for Ranbir’s face and fit the script. What is interesting is that I got a chance to change the face of someone who is already well known. Similarly, in Pari, we stripped Anushka’s skin down to the basics. I made small tweaks to give her that otherworldly look, like I added freckles, a contour around her eyes, and smudged out her lip line. She has beautiful skin, and I’m lucky it all worked out.
ELLE: What inspires you?
CW: I’ve always liked bodies. I also do figurative painting, which teaches you to observe and concentrate on form. I love watching surgery shows and seeing bodies at their most visceral and vulnerable, plus anything that documents the ways in which it changes after death — I’m quite macabre in that way.
ELLE: Your kit must have very strange items…
CW: My kit is fairly standard, but my studio is a haven of old limbs, fake nails and teeth. I must have over 15 types of (fake) blood to create different effects, like scratched, clotted, splattered, arterial — it’s all a bit gory.
ELLE: What make-up do you usually favour?
CW: My kit is largely cruelty-free and vegan. You don’t have to go for the big names that test on animals. Instead, try brands like Becca, Kat Von D, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Nudestix, and Lime Crime. I use lip pencils from OC Cosmetics, vegan brushes from Eco Tools, and base make-up from Cover FX and Hourglass. You can look out for Too Faced, Tarte and NYX for affordable basics.