The Iron Lady: Sometimes less is more with special fx makeup

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Image from

When you talk about special fx makeup, most people think of zombies, vampires, aliens and the like. The words conjure up images of makeup that is outrageous, bloody and over the top. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good monster makeup as much as the next guy. However, sometimes great special fx makeups are ones that you don’t even notice, like an age makeup.

A good age makeup is easily accepted as part of the change in the character for that scene. Creating a believable age makeup can be a difficult task. With monster makeup you have some artistic license, but everyone knows what an older person looks like. Especially when that older person is a well-known public figure, like Margaret Thatcher.

Take the character/age makeup in The Iron Lady. In the clip below Meryl Streep talks about renown prosthetics designer, Mark Coulier, and how sometime less is better when it comes to prosthetics.

YouTube clip – The Iron Lady: Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher make-up secrets
From The Showbiz 411 Channel

In the next clip you can see the beautiful work that was done for this Oscar nominated movie

The Iron Lady – Clip #1 What we think, we become
From The Meryl Streep Channel


I will definitely put Mark Coulier down as someone I would like to shadow for a day on set.  I wonder if he would let me buy him a cup of coffee, so I could pick his brains? (not literally of course, I am not a zombie yet)

Bravo to a great makeup team that helped bring this movie to life!  Here is a listing of the makeup/hair department, copied from

Makeup Department
Kay Bilk …. makeup artist
Mark Coulier …. prosthetics designer
Richard Glass …. contact lens optician
Barrie Gower …. prosthetic makeup artist
J. Roy Helland …. hair stylist: Ms. Streep
J. Roy Helland …. makeup artist: Ms. Streep
Marese Langan …. hair designer
Marese Langan …. makeup designer
Chris Lyons …. special effects teeth
Zoe Marsden …. prosthetics painter
Kirsty Mcqueen …. crowd hair & makeup junior
Eva Miller …. prosthetics coordinator
Stephen Murphy …. prosthetics make up artist
Liz Phillips …. dailies hair stylist
Emma Sheffield …. prosthetics makeup assistant
Leon Smikle …. special makeup effects artist
Malwina Suwinska …. junior makeup artist
Caroline Greenough …. makeup artist (uncredited)
Emma Slater …. silicon technician (uncredited)

Please feel free to leave comments and let me know what you are thinking. I would love to hear from you!

Twitter: @MakeupDrShari
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2 thoughts on “The Iron Lady: Sometimes less is more with special fx makeup

    • Hi Stuart, I won’t be attending the London IMATS. Although I wish I could go, but I can’t afford it right now. I would certainly love the brains in London. I will be going to the LA IMATS (maybe NY too… maybe).

      Please let me know how you liked the London IMATS. If you have any pictures or comments on the show, I would be happy to post them.

      P.S… I like your website, I will add it to my blog roll list of sites on my page. 🙂

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