How the Hairstyles of 5 Oscar-Nominated Actors Defined the Characters They Played

   It is truly the hair that maketh the woman, or in this case, the woman’s Oscar-nominated roles in 2020. 

The Academy Awards or the Oscars have always been considered the epitome of accolades for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. American haircare product brand Tresemme recognises the prep, hard work and dedication that goes behind the glitz and glamour on screen, and on the Oscar red carpet. First manufactured in 1947 by the Godefroy Manufacturing Company Tresemme years of experience and expertise in the haircare industry has lead them to understand how a great hair day gives you the confidence to conquer the world and walk taller every day.  They believe that when you are looking your best, you feel empowered to be your best, and perform your best. 




 Since their inception of the Oscars in 1929, women actors have wowed us with their extraordinary talent, beauty, elegance and unparalleled acting chops. Who can forget Vivian Leigh’s performance as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind, Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf or Meryl Streep’s role in Sophie’s Choice? Looking back at these extraordinary women and the iconic characters they played, we realise how their hair, makeup and costumes had a key role in helping to create the image and the influence of their roles.





A hairstyle especially can define an entire character, weaving the spell of illusion and creating the narrative of who they are, and helping us to believe the story they are trying to tell. Here’s a look of 5 of this year’s Oscar nominations for best actress (lead and supporting roles), and the hairstyles that define the characters they played.



1.  Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story:



Scarlett Johansson plays the role of Nicole, an actor, mother and wife in the midst of a messy divorce. As we follow the unravelling of Nicole’s marriage and the progressive bitterness that seeps into the divorce proceedings that ensure, you can’t help but notice how real she looks in the movie. Skillfully stylised to portray normalcy and relatability, her hair is chopped short into a pixie cut, overgrown in a sort of careless way, and dyed a reddish shade of brown.  Her beauty shines through quietly under the constraints and demands of daily life as a woman, a mother and a wife. When she separates from her husband and moves to California, she believably dyes her hair blond in a bid to reinvent herself.


 2.  Renee Zellweger in Judy:



Playing the role of legendary actress Judy Garland won Renee the Oscar for best actress this year. The movie was also nominated for best hair and makeup. Renee Zellweger transforms into the persona of a 46-year-old Judy Garland circa 1968, at a time when she takes on a five-week run of performances at London's Talk of the Town cabaret club. This run of shows would turn out to be among the renowned performer's last; she died of an accidental overdose the following year. Renee conjures deep emotions in her performance, playing the jet-haired camp legend worn ragged by fame. Her hairstyle is iconic, a jaunty black wig, custom dyed choppily cut with a slight ‘Elvis-like’ quality, much like the one worn by Judy Garland in real life. 


3. Charlize Theron in Bombshell:


Charlize plays the role of real-life Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who is involved in the 2016 sexual harassment scandal at the US network which resulted in the firing of CEO Roger Alias (true events). Again, it is a short, cropped hairstyle that Charlize sports (much like Scarlett Johansson and Renee Zellweger’s). Wearing her (Megyn Kelly’s ) signature clean updo, Charlize Theron’s transformation into the character is amazingly believable and the resemblance is almost shocking. See for yourself!



The accurate recreation of real-life people in this film did a lot to add to the believability of the characters on-screen, earning Bombshell the Oscar win in the best hair and makeup category. 


4 & 5.  Saoirse Theron and Florence Pugh in Little Women:




Little Women is a film about women, made by women. In the late 1860s, burgeoning author Jo March looks back on her and her three sisters’ Massachusetts childhood and the events and relationships that helped shape them as adults in this coming of age film. Saoirse plays the role of Jo March, one that got her nominated for best actress, while Florence plays Amy March, that won her the best-supporting actress nomination. The costume, hair and makeup of all the characters in the film tell a story in keeping with the era the film is based in.

“I wanted each girl to echo the others,” shares Fríða Aradóttir, the head of the film’s hair department in an interview. “I wanted them to have similar repeat hairdos. The way they put their hair up and braid it — it’s suggested that they took care of each other and helped to do each other’s hair.” Of course, this doesn’t always go according to plan. In an early scene at the March’s home in Concord, Massachusetts, Jo burns a lock of Meg’s hair with a hot iron while trying to curl it for a party”





But elaborate party updos are few and far between in this adaptation. In fact, the film’s director Greta Gerwig actually encouraged Aradóttir and her team to envision the March sisters as early bohemians and provided photos from Victorian-era British portrait photographer Julia Margaret Camerona's inspiration. “Greta, early on in our conversations, suggested that this family and these girls and women were possibly the original hippies,” explained Aradóttir. “The hair was always meant to be a little less structured than you see in a lot of period movies. I find that more relatable than coiffures, which are so distinct and untouchable.” To stay true to the times, hairspray was not allowed on the set, as it had not been invented back then. Hair was often left loose, and flyaways were not touched. Sariose’s character of Jo, especially, always had pieces of hair falling down as she was too busy thinking about a lot of other things, including her writing, to remember to tuck it back in.