Backstage

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Anne Morgan

When we spoke with hairstylist Anne Morgan last year, she was fresh off the set of the Ben Affleck-Justin Timberlake film Runner Runner. Since then, she’s created signature hairstyles for Connie Briton’s leading character in Nashville, worked on the award-winning series True Detective and wrapped up her role as department head for the upcoming film Focus starring Margot Robbie and Will Smith. This weekend, you’ll see Morgan’s hairstyling for the new Nicholas Sparks film The Best of Me, which follows two former high school sweethearts reunited after 20 years. We spoke with Morgan about the challenges of styling a movie that spans decades, her go-to Oribe products to battle the inevitable humidity, the film’s New Orleans set and her upcoming projects.

There's a lot of anticipation (and fandom) when it comes to a Nicholas Sparks film. How did you prepare for "The Best of Me"?


I think the thing to keep in mind with Nicholas Sparks films is that they are the most romantic and sentimental stories of love—and usually balanced with heart-wrenching tragedy! I always start off a film with massive amounts of visual research, with Pinterest as my pinboard of choice.

What was it like filming in New Orleans?


It is such an incredible place, and the rough-edged beauty and diversity is such a visual inspiration. Having the architecture, music, food and cocktails permeate each of us daily only helped creatively! I love that town. I actually just bought a house there, too.

What products did you regularly use to handle the weather in NOLA?


Dry Texturizing Spray is absolutely my very favorite. I use it for both James Marsden and Luke Bracey to give their hair some texture and not allow the humidity to kill it. Without that spray, their hair would just lay flat in the dense humidity.

I also used Dry on both Michelle Monaghan and Liana Liberato at their bangs-and-temple area to help “lift” the hair off the scalp. Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse held the body and the curls for both, too.

Additionally, I would say Imperméable Anti-Humidity Spray is worth its weight in gold. It absolutely works! I dress the hair, set with Superfine Hair Spray and then set it again with Imperméable.

The movie spans several years. Did you change the characters' hairstyles over time?


That was the challenge of the film—to find a way to gracefully age our cast. Michelle and Liana play the same character, but years apart. Each of the actresses’ hair color was altered to assimilate the two, and I used extensions to thicken the hair and add texture. I also tried to find subtle similarities in the way they wore their hair, remembering that their character is a “fun Southern girl” in her youth, and then later as a woman, she is beautiful but in a more “contained” life. I tried to keep James and Luke a little rough around the edges for both versions of their character.

Sometimes we were given certain characters within hours before they would shoot, so we would have to come up with a concept and vision that would span the time of 20 years. We had fun with mullets and dyed hair inspired by Johnny Cash, as well as overly stylized hair for the female characters. It’s really fun to use the cast to sell a particular time and place.

Any fun stories from set?


I will say that being able to shoot in each of our locations in two time periods was super cool. Seeing Luke and Liana jump into the bayou—with all its snakes, bugs and whatever else lurks in there—was hilarious and frightening!

You worked on "True Detective," which was also filmed in NOLA. What was it like working with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson?


True Detective was incredible, brutal, creative and a challenge, in all ways! I designed and did both Matthew and Woody’s hair as well as served as the department head for the show. Matthew wants and thrives on all the details and really was in character before he came in each morning. Woody has a different approach and works on the visual last, so I tried to accommodate his process. Both are obviously incredible actors. Watching them go back and forth on screen or as friends in between takes was amazing. Dry was definitely part of my daily routine on some of their looks. The humidity in NOLA was brutal and Matthew’s fine waves would lay flat, so Dry helped me give a more full and tactile look.

What's next?


I just finished a funny film for Sony called Pixels, working exclusively with Michelle again in Toronto. It’s a summer film that will be out next year with Adam Sandler. Michelle plays a very stylish, chic military advisor to the President. It was so much fun laughing all day long every day.

In January, I have Focus for Warner Brothers coming out, which stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie. I was department head on that film and designed some fun looks for Margot’s character. We shot in New Orleans again and also Buenos Aires and New York City.
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