This story contains spoilers for The Rhythm Section. You’ve been warned.
When the trailer for Blake Lively‘s new movie, The Rhythm Section, first dropped I barely recognized her. I’ve spent almost 15 years since I first cried my way through The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in complete fascination of Lively’s hair. Obviously, my admiration has only grown in the time since, through the Gossip Girl years and Lively’s continued big screen career and myriad red carpet appearances.
And yet, those famous long blond waves are distinctly missing from The Rhythm Section, along with her American accent. Instead, Lively sports a number of different looks in the film as her character, Stephanie Patrick, transforms herself from a tortured young woman to an undercover assassin seeking revenge. Yes, it’s quite the narrative, and one that required hair and makeup designer Siân Grigg to oversee an entire team dedicated to handling Lively’s wigs for the film. “She had so many different looks, and they were really important because you absolutely have to believe them,” Grigg says. “Otherwise, it blows her cover.”
Grigg and her team also knew that some of the wigs they chose were supposed to look somewhat fake, as if the character had bought them herself. “We still wanted them to look good, because she was obviously a smart girl and would not put something on her head that looked ridiculous,” she says. “But, also, we had to play that line that it’s a wig she’s bought in a shop.”
Here are the other secrets from set you should know.
Lively Was Very Involved in the Process—and She Wasn’t Vain About It
“Blake was super collaborative and really loves playing around with ideas,” Grigg says, which isn’t always the case when it comes to on-set hair and makeup. “She didn’t care if she looked terrible and didn’t mind how much time it took. She wanted to look absolutely right for the part.” She says the actor is one of those people who can pull off pretty much any color, which she does in the movie. “She’s just a lucky person like that—she’s quite a chameleon, so you can do a lot with her,” Griggs adds.
They luckily had a wig shop in Ireland (where some of the filming took place) that was willing to loan the production about 40 wigs to play with. “We tried so many different types—straight, curly, long, short,” Grigg says. “We had a lot to choose from.”
The First Look Was the Hardest to Nail
The character is in a really rough place in her life at the start of The Rhythm Section and that grounds her journey through the rest of the film. “You really had to believe that she’s completely given up on herself. She was almost like a non-human,” Grigg says. “She was just going through the motions, but she wasn’t really alive. She was just getting through it, really.”