The Hunger Games hair department head Linda Flowers knows a thing or two about working with young people, creating a look, and putting it all together for films on a massive scale. Flowers ran hair for Captain America, The Social Network, and Iron Man 2, among others, so she is no stranger to big sets and big stars. While she was familiar with the Suzanne Collins novels, she hadn’t read the series and says she started reading them “the minute” she got the call to interview for the gig on the blockbuster. In an interview originally published as the film hit theaters, Flowers takes us inside the movie’s signature looks. For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did The Hunger Games set compare to other films you’ve worked on? What were the challenges in creating the initial concept?
LINDA FLOWERS: It was definitely on the biggest scale for hair I’ve ever done. I’ve done big wig movies, I’ve done period movies, but never were the characters like [those in] the Capitol. Usually the shape of the hair is already dictated by the period, whereas this was in the future so we got to create this society. The challenge was to make it look couture and to make people take the Capitol seriously, even though they have pink hair and aqua hair and orange hair, so that was a real challenge. You have to create these styles for each individual character all the way down to the number 510 extra person that comes into the room.
How much of the actors’ preferences and personalities went into the styles you chose?
I felt it was important to stay as much on target with the book. Caesar has blue hair in the book but there’s a big range of blue colors. And Stanley, he’s Italian and he has real dark hair so I knew the blue had to have a lot of depth to it. It’s a darker color and it makes you take him more seriously as well. If it were to be too light it would have been too whimsical and too like a powdered wig. We call him the Ryan Seacrest of the Capitol. With Elizabeth [Banks], I knew that it couldn’t be too bright. If it was too bright it would be distracting. When you see her for the first time at the reaping, I knew she should be a really soft, pastel pink.
How much work was it each day to get each character ready?
Effie’s wigs I prepped on blocks. She [Banks] told me when she put the wig on she felt like Effie and she’d walk in as Elizabeth and walk out as Effie. Everybody had wigs or pieces that had to be colored. At the peak of our Capitol scenes, like for the chariot ride and stuff like that, I had over 45 hair dressers working and 20 interns.
How did you and Jennifer Lawrence work together to create a look for the iconic single braid that worked?
Jennifer was so lovely; she was open to the experimenting. This [the style] wasn’t for fashion, this was for the fact that she was trying to survive and had to hunt and she was a tomboy. So the braid I chose – I chose to go from one side and wrap it around her nape – was for function so when she would go to reach for an arrow it wouldn’t catch on her hair.
Did any of the cast complain about their styles?
They were all very open to do what needed to be done for the movie and they all had the reference because of the book. All the tributes, they were going to be training, they were going to be fighting. So all their hair had to be pretty functional. It wasn’t about glamour; it was about “how can I contain my hair because I’m going to be fighting and surviving for my life.” We tried to make everybody look very distinct.
Will the looks become popular? Will more people than just Katy Perry be walking around with blue hair?
I think definitely, because there are so many easy ways to do it. You can buy these fairly inexpensive pieces and put them in yourself – how you want to wear them for the day, have fun with it. I think the norm has already sort of changed. And that’s why I was really impressed that Suzanne Collins was such a visionary with just hair, let alone a good storyteller. It’s going to become acceptable for people of all ages to have fun colors in their hair. I love that Katy Perry’s doing it. She’s a good example of how you can do it and it looks couture.