‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’s make-up artist on the variety of looks

A24’s ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ is a highly-lauded spectacle for many reasons. In this film, a collision of sorts occurs; credit to directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who ambitiously roped in a myriad of genres and tropes, all to have everything collapse onto a poignant metaphor. Michelle Yeoh is the main heroine, playing the stern, yet burdened woman of the house. Her character, Evelyn, tries to hold everything together in the many roles she plays—of a failing business owner, a wife and a mother to an estranged teenage daughter. That’s not all, shy of half hour into the film, everything is thrown on its axis when Evelyn is dragged into a multiverse mission—to only meet with more versions of herself, and then tasked to save the entire world from a villain from another universe, an iteration of her daughter, Joy (played by Stephanie Hsu). 

The mind-bending film goes from 0-100 in an instant, where zany characters (from the likes of Jenny Slate to Harry Shum Jr.) are introduced one after another. Including the main protagonist, Joy’s evil universe twin, the transformative villain who takes on an onslaught of looks that veer from the bizarre to the outlandish. All of these were masterminded by department head of make-up, Michelle Chung, who’s based in Los Angeles and specialises in make-up on set for film and television. 

“It was truly a collaborative process coming up with the looks, between the costume designer Shirley Kurata, the hair department head Anissa Salazar and myself.  I created mood boards for most of the looks, and would pull inspiration from everywhere I could. From artists, as well as editorial fashion, runway, Instagram, Pinterest, everywhere. I had my own ideas, and then would see the costume or hair inspiration. Sometimes it would align, and sometimes I would be inspired by them to move in another direction. We didn’t really have a lot of time, so many of the looks were inspired by trying to find the most amount of impact in a short amount of time,”explains Chung tells Vogue Singapore. 

With 15 years under her belt, she’s no stranger to the intensity and effort it takes to do make-up on set; but ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’s sheer amount of looks and variety is by far, the most she has had to do in the span of her career. “We really didn’t have a lot of time on this film, so some looks were a quick burst of colour to give maximum impact, and some were a little more involved. A lot of the looks were done in less than half an hour, to maximise shooting time with the actors. I tend to work fairly quickly, which really helped me on this film.” 

Her work on set translated on the visages of Joy as well as Evelyn, who too goes through a series of transformations, albeit in less dramatic fashion. “I would have conversations with both Michelle and Stephanie about the looks to see if they had ideas as well. We really were all on the same page, which was so great.”

Below, Chung tells us more about the inspiration, make-up products she used as well as her tips for older skin.