‘Dolemite Is My Name’: How Wigs Became Key to Eddie Murphy’s Look
For Stacey Morris, Carla Farmer and Vera Steimberg — the hair and makeup team behind “Dolemite Is My Name” — the biggest challenge was to create the likeness of the real-life characters being portrayed on-screen in the Netflix film.
Eddie Murphy portrays Rudy Ray Moore in the comedy that centers on the rise of the comic and rap pioneer. The trio collaborated with costume designer, Ruth Carter and director Craig Brewer ensure the period piece, set in 1970s Los Angeles, looked realistic.
“The research stood to pinpoint really good hairstyles that we could use,” Farmer said. “We felt by looking at concerts from that time; the same people who went to those could be found at the Rudy Ray Moore venues.”
Steimberg, the on-set makeup guru, reiterated the importance of doing a deep dive in that specific time period.
“We really took our time to research the era and definitely looked into every detail of the Rudy Ray Moore’s original Dolemite character,” she said. “We wanted this movie to look authentic. We had to nail all the different looks. There were Rudy’s looks, but we had the movie within the movie that had its own different looks.”
As Rudy Ray Moore slowly evolves into Dolemite, a character he creates on stage, wigs became central. It’s an evolution visible through hair. As Dolemite turns into a success, his wigs start to look better.
“The wig he uses the first time is literally out of a closet because he didn’t have any money,” she said.”
The trio faced its largest obstacles when it came to collaborating on styles beyond just Rudy Ray Moore. They had to continue refining the looks and textures on smaller characters while the film was being shot. As Farmer, Morris and Steimberg attended fitting sessions, it became an even more collaborative process.
“Ruth Carter is very open to ideas, and we had them, she was open to hearing them,” Farmer said. “If we had trouble with hair, we’d put hats on them because people didn’t always come as they were meant to.”
Since authenticity was key to the look of the film, a heighten level of scrutiny was of the highest order.
“We had to make sure women didn’t have implants,” Steimberg said.
Adds Morris, “We had a guy with dreads all the way down to his waist, so we wrapped his dreads and added things to make it look like an Afro.”