Backstage

  • <i><i>Tony Ward</i></i>
  • <i>Tony Ward with Lauren Graham on the set of </i>Evan Almighty<i> (2007)</i>
  • <i>Kate Bosworth and James Franco in </i>Homefront <i>(2013)</i>
  • <i>Thomas Mann and Emmy Rossum in</i> Beautiful Creatures <i>(2013)</i>
  • <i>Zachary Levi and Alexis Bledel in </i>Remember Sunday <i>(2013)</i>
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Nov 24, 2014

Tony Ward

With nearly four decades in the hair industry and more than 15 years of working for films, including last year’s Homefront, Beautiful Creatures, and Remember Sunday, Tony Ward isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The Hollywood hairstylist has always loved doing hair, from playfully styling his sister’s doll collection as a child to cutting his friends’ and family’s hair through his teen and early adult years. What prompted Ward to make the switch from the salon to behind the scenes was a chance opportunity to assist a friend on a film. “I was bitten by the film bug and knew this was what I was meant to do,” remembered Ward. Just before Ward set off to work on his next film, Our Brand is Crisis, we spoke with him about his 2015 films American Ultra and Midnight Special, creative process, career accomplishments and the craziest hairstyling he’s ever done on set.

How does styling hair for film compare to working on a television set or a photo shoot?

I’ve done all three. Photo shoots can be fun and sometimes very creative. Television is fun, but it’s a very fast-paced process. It’s not unusual on television to shoot 10 pages of script, whereas film might max out at three pages. I just like film because you get to spend a little more time on the creative process.

Explain the creative process that goes behind styling hair for film.

Doing hair for film is a team effort between the actor, director, costume designer, hairstylist and makeup artist. It starts off with breaking down the character and then getting together with these people and coming up with a look and then creating that look. That’s why we have test days, so that we can see how the finished look appears on camera and make any necessary changes before we start shooting.

How big is the hair team that you work with during films?

It depends on the script and the number of characters. It could be as few as just the department head and key hairstylist, and I have worked on films that had up to 25 and 30 hairstylists.

What was it like working on the set of American Ultra starring Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg?

For me, the most enjoyment comes from the cast. If we have a good cast, it’s a good show. The cast on American Ultra was definitely a good cast. I especially connected with Jesse Eisenberg, and we had a fantastic time. He was such a joy.

How about Midnight Special with Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver?

Midnight Special had a great cast also. But it was very challenging in the fact that Jeff Nichols like to create the right atmosphere for the cast. Because of that, we traveled a lot every day to Mississippi, Florida and New Mexico and worked long hours. Plus, the local places we shot were never closer than a 45-minute drive. It really took a physical toll on us. Kirsten, Adam, Joel Edgerton and Michael Shannon were great fun to work with. We all had so much fun.

What can we expect from the hairstyles in both films?

They are two completely different character films. Most of the actors in Midnight Special played Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) members and, according to their guidelines, they have a very specific look. The women never cut their hair, and it is brought up into a very high formation in the front. Some research said that the higher it was in the front was an indication of how spiritual they were. Then the back hung down in a very long braid.

American Ultra was more contemporary with relaxed, unkempt hair. One group of agents had a very stylish look to separate them from the others, who had shaved heads and bleached hair. There were very feminine styles for some guys. It was just an array of creative hairstyles.

What are your go-to Oribe products?

Like everyone else I’m sure, my favorite product is the Dry Texturizing Spray. I love layering this product with the waxes, pomades and pastes. It creates a wonderful and truly workable texture. Of course, living in an extremely humid area like New Orleans, the Impermeable Anti-Humidity Spray is a must.

Do you have a favorite genre to style hair for?

I love period work or true stories where you have to recreate a certain person or time period. My favorite time period would probably be the ’30s. The styles are less polished than the ’20s with slick crowns, more volume at the base and lots of small hats.

What’s the craziest hair you’ve ever created on set?

Probably the craziest thing I’ve had to do was create a photo double for a German Shepherd. I had to cut its hair and put temporary color on it to make it look like the main German Shepherd.

Where's the best place you've ever traveled for a film? For fun?

My favorite place that I’ve traveled for work was Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s such a beautiful city and I got to spend a month there. For fun, my favorite place is Mazatlan, Mexico. My partner, Mario, is from there and we go sometimes twice a year to visit family. Such a wonderful place and wonderful people!

What is your hair philosophy?

I believe that hair should be beautiful in whatever form that takes. You can be taught to do anything, but if you can’t step back and see that it looks beautiful as what it is, or what to do to get it there, then the work is pointless.

Who are some of your hair icons and mentors?

Back in the ’80s I worked for Ann and Gary Bray, who were both competitors in the world hairdressing competitions. That's how they originally met, competing against each other. Gary became a coach for the 1978 and 1984 USA Team, which won gold medals. He trained members of the Korean, Australian, Mexican and Icelandic Teams. He was very generous in sharing his knowledge with other people. Ann was the first American female to win the world championship of hairdressing. She is very well known in the hairdressing industry. She has always been an inspiration and is definitely someone that I look up to. Her creativity is boundless.

What do you feel have been the greatest accomplishments in your styling career?

As children, we all dream of characters and stories we see on film of being a part of that. To be able to meet some of my lifelong icons that I admire, Terry Baliel, Gloria Casny, director Martin Campbell, actors John Malkovich and Emma Thompson, just to name a few, is priceless. I feel very blessed.

What do you do for fun when you're not on set?

Usually for the first couple weeks after a show I just try to rest and recuperate. Film work can really take a physical toll on you. Then I love hanging out with Mario and our friends. We both love traveling, so we travel as much as we can.

Can you share some of your upcoming projects?

At the moment I am prepping a film called Our Brand is Crisis, based on the documentary of the same name. It stars Sandra Bullock, Scoots McNairy and Anthony Mackie. The full cast hasn't been cast yet. We are still in that process.
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