CLIFTON PARK – Clifton Park resident and hair and makeup artist Annemarie Bradley struck gold this year, in the form of an Oscar statuette, which she received for her work on the 2022 drama “The Whale.”
Bradley, along with Canadian makeup artist Adrien Morot, and Asian-American makeup artist Judy Chin, won the top award in makeup and hairstyling at the 95th Academy Awards ceremony March 12.
“The Whale” won two Academy Awards that evening, including one for Best Actor going to Brendan Fraser portraying the main character, Charlie, and the latter for makeup and hairstyling.
The film beat out “The Batman,” “Elvis,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and “Wakanda Forever” for the coveted prize in makeup and hairstyling.
This was the first Academy Award win for Bradley, as well as for Chin and Morot. Chin became the first woman of Asian descent to win the award in the makeup and hairstyling category. Morot was previously nominated for his work in the film “Barney’s Version.”
“The Whale,” originally a play, was written by Samuel D. Hunter in 2012. The plot follows Charlie (Fraser), a reclusive online college English teacher who suffers from morbid obesity and attempts to restore his relationship with his teenage daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink).
A five-person hair and makeup team transformed Fraser into a 600-pound man. This was the first time that any feature film used digital prosthetics makeup through 3D printing.
Producers, Jeremy Dawson, Ari Handel, and Darren Aronofsky from the Manhattan film production company, A24, created Charlie using a 3D computer and an iPad. The team made a scan of Brendan Fraser in a garage. Prosthetics and makeup artist Morot created a clay mold of Fraser’s body. Morot designed the prosthetics digitally before printing them out in 3D without even meeting Fraser in person.
The prosthetics helped push Fraser’s weight into the severest extreme without covering his face and allowing for his emotional range of expression.
Fraser wore the 330-pound prosthetics. To keep cool, tubes inside the prosthetic suit flowed with water during filming.
The movie was filmed in Newburgh at a studio for four months. Three months were spent filming, and the final month was post-production. Fraser spent four hours a day in the makeup chair in his prosthetics. Preparing for filming, Fraser consulted with the obesity action coalition and a dance instructor before filming began to figure out how Charlie could move.
Hearing her name announced by actress Jennifer Connelly on the Dolby Stage when she won was surreal and overwhelming for Bradley. She felt like she was going to faint and being in that moment on stage took her to a whole other level, she said.
“When I went up on stage, I could see all of the people in the audience that I had worked with like Nicole Kidman and they’re standing there looking at me,” she said. “Half of it felt like I was just at work, crying at them looking at me and the other half was like, wow, this is crazy, I’m like, why am I at work wearing this fancy dress?”
Actor Samuel L. Jackson gave Bradley and Morot their Oscar and Chin received hers from Connelly.
After leaving the stage, Bradley and her co-workers then went backstage to get champagne, be congratulated by peers, and take part in interviews in a press room.
What is the nomination process like?
Bradley explained the selection process of a movie to be considered for an award.
“So out of about 400 films that people send in from all over the world, they (the Academy) select 10 that they see in every category, and they select 10 films that they feel are superior to have the best work, the most creative, or something different.”
Bradley and her team put together a seven-minute reel of highlights of the hair and makeup work and presented their work to Academy members and audience members, both in-person and through Zoom watching from all over the world.
After the presentations, the Academy votes and picks out who they like, re-watch the videos, listen to what the presenters have to say and then make their vote. Starting out with their top 10 films, the nominees are whittled down to the top five nominees. Those top five nominees in each award category are then announced on Good Morning America and on other morning shows.
Bradley’s husband, Charles Sherron, who has over 35 years of experience working in the film industry as a key grip on such projects as “Sex and The City,” “Lipstick Jungle,” “Boardwalk Empire” and the “Marvelous Miss Maisel,” recalled how Bradley learned about her nomination.
“Annemarie was here (at her Clifton Park residence) with her best friend. I was back in New York (City), downstate and I was Zooming her. I put her on Facetime, so I was videotaping her watching her watch the announcement.” Sherron said. “It was really exciting. So happy, so proud. It’s a big accomplishment. Just getting nominated is amazing.”
In the 95 years that the awards have been around, only 35 women and 56 men have won an Oscar, Bradley said.
Oscar Week Preparation
Prior to Oscar week, Bradley and Sherron were in Hollywood. Bradley took part in a hair and makeup symposium in a large theater with other hair and makeup competitors. The artists showed off their reels alongside an actor from the film and answered questions. Fraser came to the presentation to give insight on his experience with the hair and makeup team. Each nominee had a display where they can show off their props, or in this case, prosthetics and wigs used in the nominated films.
“It was really a fun event.” Bradley said. “It was nice to meet all of the people, and there were a lot of hair and makeup people that wanted to get into the business in any aspect.”
According to Sherron, fans who saw “The Whale” were even asking Bradley questions about her work and posed for selfies with her.
While in Hollywood, Bradley attended a nominee luncheon and dinner. She met other makeup artists who shared their experiences at the Oscars. She also attended an event honoring women in the film industry.
Other Accolades for ‘The Whale’
In addition to the Oscars, “The Whale” was nominated for a BAFTA award, the British equivalent to the Academy Awards, for hair and makeup. Bradley and Sherron flew to London, where “Elvis” beat “The Whale” in the hair and makeup category. The experience of being at the BAFTAS was incredible and fun, according to the couple.
How did Bradley get started in her career?
Born and raised in Cohoes, Bradley was a Catholic High School graduate. She did not want to follow into a career of accounting alongside her father and brother or become a nurse like her mother.
She started her career at The Orlo School of Hair Design and Cosmetology in Albany because she always loved doing hair.
“Beauty school is harder than what I expected, and I loved it,” Bradley said. She graduated from Orlo in 1990 and for six years, worked in different salons in the Capital District.
Prior to 1999, Bradley discovered a big salon in New York City that did hair for magazines, and she wanted to figure out how to get involved. She went on an interview in the city, sent in her resume, and the salon hired her. Initially, Bradley started out as an assistant for two years and two years later, became an assistant for Bumble and Bumble.
An acquaintance at the time approached her and told her that she and her brother were involved in the low-budget movie, “Alice Underground,” a modern version of “Alice in Wonderland,” and asked her if she could do hair and makeup for a movie.
Bradley took the chance and assisted in creating the characters’ appearances. When the movie was released and people watched the film, people kept passing her name around in the film industry. Since that moment, Bradley remains in the film business.
What did she think of ‘The Whale’?
“It was really fun. It was probably one of the best projects I worked on because everybody had to work together to make Brendan look like that.” Bradley said. “It took five of us with him every single day to do all the prosthetics and it took four hours to get him ready.”
Bradley would shave Fraser’s head before prosthetics were put on. Two hours later, she would return to place the wig pieces on and the makeup team would continue on more work.
“It was fun to be a part of a project where everything was focused on the same thing.” she said.
As for sharing her Oscar?
“For me, it’s been really fun to share it with everyone,” Bradley said. “It’s an acknowledgement of your career and your work, but really, the fun of it is to share it with everybody.”
Bradley keeps her Oscar on the plate of a Bulldog butler statue that she and her brother purchased for their father at her Clifton Park residence. On a shelf lies the Makeup and Hairdressing envelope that Bradley took home with her and additional souvenirs from that milestone day.
What are Bradley and Sherron doing during the writers and actors’ strike?
Bradley said she has been enjoying her break from work but admitted that it has been challenging for her husband. Sherron, Bradley said, has a lot of guys who work under him that need work. The equipment that he is not using is being stored in New York City and the cost to store it is very expensive.
“For me, I always work and then take a break and work so I can regroup.” Bradley continued. “But for myself, it’s been a little bit easier.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, Bradley began work on a new Stephen Soderbergh film, “The Presence,” starring Lucy Liu. The short movie will be filmed in 15 days. The film production company that is making the movie, has a waiver needed to complete the project.
Two months ago, A24 was approved to continue filming and promotional activities during the SAG-AFTRA strike since the company doesn’t have ties to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
“This career is very exciting, but it’s also fun to inspire other people to wanna go for whatever it is. Any kind of art that you like,” Bradley concluded. “But when you see someone, if they have great things to say about it or they can share an experience, you’re like, wow, I can see myself doing that, you know it’s fun.”
Clifton Park resident Annemarie Bradley’s certificates for “Makeup and Hairstyling” for the films, The Whale Friday, Aug. 25,2023.
Clifton Park resident Annemarie Bradley’s BAFTA Film Award Nominee certificate for “Makeup and Hairstyling” for the film, The Whale, Photo taken Friday, Aug. 25,2023.
Annemarie Bradley’s Academy Award and the “Makeup and Hairstyling” envelope. She and her team won the award for their hair and makeup work in the film, “The Whale”, Photo taken in Clifton Park, NY Friday, Aug. 25,2023.
Clifton Park resident Annemarie Bradley received a certificate from the American Cinematheque Tribute to the Crafts that she won for “Makeup and Hairstyling” for the film, The Whale. Photo taken Friday, Aug. 25,2023.
Clifton Park resident Annemarie Bradley’s framed Academy Award souvenirs from the 95th Annual Oscars and the film, The Whale, Friday, Aug. 25,2023.
Clifton Park resident Annemarie Bradley’s Academy Award that she won for “Makeup and Hairstyling” for the film, The Whale at her home, Friday, Aug. 25,2023.
Clifton Park resident Annemarie Bradley’s Academy Award certificate for winning “Makeup and Hairstyling” for the film, The Whale, Photo taken Friday, Aug. 25,2023.
Close up of Annemarie Bradley and Adrien Morot’s name on the Academy Award that they won for “Makeup and Hairstyling” for the film, “The Whale” at her Clifton Park residence, Friday, Aug. 25,2023.
Annemarie Bradley’s Academy Award and the “Makeup and Hairstyling” envelope together on the table. She, along with Adrien Morot and Judy Chin won the academy award for the film, “The Whale”. Photo taken Friday, Aug. 25,2023.
Clifton Park resident Annemarie Bradley and her husband, Charlie Sherron holding her Academy Award that she won for “Makeup and Hairstyling” for the film, The Whale, at their home in Clifton Park,NY Friday, Aug. 25,2023.