Even non-Twihards know that associating oneself with the Twilight series is a wise move, so when my editor found out that Norma Hill-Patton, the head makeup artist for New Moon, Catwoman and the last two X-Men movies, would be at the International Make-Up Artist Trade Show at the CNE yesterday, she sent me for an Edward Cullen make-over.
For the uninitiated, Edward, played by the chisel-jawed Robert Pattinson, is a vampire and the romantic lead of the films. His pale skin (which sparkles in the sun) is a heated topic among the films’ fans and a popular subject of YouTube how-to videos. Like at any other Twilight event, dozens of (mostly) young women encircled the guest of honour, raising their pocket digi-cams with one hand and clutching a magazine for autographs in the other. “This is all very new to me,” Hill-Patton laughed while posing for pictures. “It’s like the paparazzi.” But since this was a trade show, there were also makeup artists diligently writing down every word of Hill-Patton’s explanation of how to achieve the perfect shade of pale while she worked on two models who resembled Edward and Jane (another vampire character).
Thankfully, onlookers dispersed once it was my turn to sit in Hill-Patton’s chair. Not that I was uncomfortable with being gawked at while she transformed me, but I was slightly nervous that the crowd would be disappointed that I looked nothing like the smouldering Edward Cullen, let alone the Edward Cullen lookalike before me. For one thing, I’m Chinese with tan skin, and the sides of my face would have to undergo a lipo procedure before cheekbones would appear.
“You’re a bit of a challenge because you have a darker complexion,” says Hill-Patton, whose 37-year career started with an Elizabeth Arden makeup set her aunt gave her when she was 13. “With a darker skin tone, you can’t go for the very pale colours. You have to use slightly darker colours without it looking like you’re wearing a lot of makeup. But now, if I have to do an Asian vampire, I’ll know what to do, so thank you.”
As she smeared on foundation, Hill-Patton spoke about working on the New Moon set. “It was crazy at times with all the fans and paparazzi around. Sometimes it’s disruptive. Sometimes there are thousands of people. But for the most part, they were very respectful. The film company erected large screens to block people from leaking pictures from the set.”
As she started in with signature pale makeup, she explained why her goal was to take the vitality out of my complexion. “The thing about vampires is that they don’t perspire. They have no sheen—it’s all very matte.” Afterwards, she contoured my face to give rise to my non-existent cheekbones and give me a pair of sunken eyes, then topped it off with a brownish-red lip. “It’ll make you look like you just gorged on a body and your lips are full of blood.”
And after just 15 minutes, Hill-Patton had successfully drained the life from my face—a process that usually takes 40 minutes on the set because she also applies makeup to the neck and the inside of the ears. She took a photo of me for her records before wiping off the makeup. “I don’t think you’d want to go home looking like that,” she laughed. Sadly, I wasn’t surrounded by teenage girls mistaking me for a member of the Cullen clan; they had moved on to the next booth to ogle the buff shirtless model showing off body makeup.