The Crown (Credit: Netflix)

Cate Hall is a three-time Emmy Award nominee for her work on previous seasons of The Crown. She just wrapped the 6th and final season of the series. Since season three, if you watch all the episodes sequentially, you can see her work evolve with all the major time leaps this historical series offers.

The mastery of her art is on display as you watch actors and actresses transform into different ages, seamlessly. Hall, who built up an impressive resume doing lots of independent films for many years, has cemented herself as one of the best in her field with her expert work here.

The Crown is a popular and award-winning historical series that covers the life of Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family. It was universally praised for its writing, directing, and acting and its crafts were always top-notch – cinematography, art direction, casting, sound, costumes, and hair and makeup. Recently, Hall caught up with Immersive Via Zoom to discuss her impeccable hair and makeup.

[This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.]

The Crown S4. Picture shows: Margaret Thatcher (GILLIAN ANDERSON) and Cate Hall (Hair and Make Up Designer). BEHIND THE SCENES

You’ve worked on The Crown for four seasons now, what was it like when you originally got the call?

It was genuinely life-changing for me because until that point I worked on little films, no one I knew had even heard of anything that I ever worked on. And it was like suddenly I was doing something that everybody had heard of and everybody had seen. And it was a thrill. It was just a real kick, to be honest. It was like doing something that’s properly iconic. I mean, the pressure is quite great when someone as talented as Ivana Primorac came before me and did an amazing job on seasons one and two. I felt like a baby compared to her, so it felt quite stressful to begin with, but it was such a thrill. It was my dream job.

Being a period piece, what were the challenges of working with bygone styles?

The Royal Family got stuck in their hairstyles, so whether it’s the hairstyle like The Queen’s, which was the Italian set from the 1960s, I think then they just keep them for decades. The Queen’s hairstyle changed very, very little between seasons one and season six in terms of how the wigs were set. I think history is my passion. So for me, the period aspect, the kind of social history of Britain is constantly learning.

That was a surprise from our amazing research department, to humanize the Royal Family. They are kind of very much always there, growing up in Britain, but it’s not normal to be a kind of fervent royalist nowadays. You don’t think a lot about the royal family. So yeah, it was an eye-opening, lovely experience to consider them as humans and to understand their emotional journey.

The Crown
Elizabeth Debicki in The Crown (Credit: Netflix)

What was it like not only working on Princess Diana but also working with Elizabeth Debicki?

She was so well cast, so from my perspective, the casting makes such an enormous amount of difference as to whether the transformation is straightforward. We were very lucky to get Elizabeth Debicki as our Diana because she was perfectly cast. So, that was fantastic. And she was just pretty brave.

She was brave enough to be very vulnerable through the process. She put herself in our hands. I think one of the fantastic benefits of having been on the series for so long by season six was the actors would come in knowing our work and saying, “Okay, what do you think?” It’s a real privilege because ordinarily, you have to win everybody’s trust and new on every single job. It was such a treat to just have people join and say, “We’re in your hands.”

What kind of challenges did you face with Diana in the Final Season?

From a story point of view, seeing so much of Diana relaxed and in private on the yacht and holiday, we really wanted to show that sort of carefree young mom who was just massively invested in her children and wasn’t always the perfectly preened Princess. Of course, the preened Princess is one that we all know and recognize.

The challenge really was in showing Diana on holiday without her kind of trademark hairstyle. It’s still saying Diana, so we would agonize over this wig when it had had salt water in it and she’d been diving. We just didn’t have the usual public silhouette that we could rely on.

Elizabeth is pale and Diana was deeply tanned, so we spent a lot of time trying to keep up a spray tanning schedule with our schedule when she was on camera every single day, adding more makeup on set. That was challenging.

Any team members help you’d like to shoutout for getting the job done?

The co-designer is my best friend, Emilie Yong-Mills, who deserves a massive call-out, but so does the whole team. So, my friend Debbie looks after Elizabeth and Debbie would do her wig, her makeup, her tanning. We had an incredible team of people. There were so many, such a huge cast.

Let’s talk about the other Queens, who all made cameos in the Final Season.

Thank God. We love Claire Foy so much and Olivia Colman, obviously I had done the two seasons with Olivia, so having her back was like having The Queen come home. But Claire, we were desperate to do Claire as The Queen. So when we saw those flashbacks come in for seasons, I think we had them in seasons five out and six it to treat.

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Elizabeth Debicki and Khalid Abdalla in The Crown (Credit: Netflix)

There are so many great actors and actresses in this…Leslie Manville and Imelda Staunton… What were memorable moments bringing their characters to life with them?

Leslie Manville is one of my favorite actresses of all time and Imelda Staunton is too. So to see the two of them, and they’re great friends doing those scenes. I feel we shot episode eight was up first in our schedule and we shot it in a block with episode one. It was challenging because suddenly we started with ankle burn prosthetics, stroke makeup flashbacks to 1945, and all of that.

We had to get her effects makeup on and off in 20 minutes for the schedule but she was so just open to the process and so into the research. She went to a stroke unit and met some stroke victims there. Stacey Louise Holman, who looked after her, just did an amazing job of getting all of that on and then shooting a scene, which would be enormous with, we drooped one of her eyes and she’d be crying and it was massive. And then she’d have to completely take the whole lot off and make Margaret look dazzling for episode one or something.

How do you feel today after seasons of The Crown? What was the wrap party like?

It was so good, it was at the Natural History Museum, which is quite iconic and cool. Yeah, that was amazing. I think it was brilliant that the last day we filmed with Imelda, we were filming at a place called York Minster, which is this cathedral in Yorkshire. It’s so beautiful. We were filming the scene in episode ten where The Queen sort of contemplates her death and the other Queens appear behind her and the younger version of herself, we had all of the executives on set and everyone was there because it was Imelda’s last day and I cried, ugly crying.

I was at an actual funeral because it was just this enormous, it’s been such a life-changing experience that life keeps on happening when you do something for five or six years. I had a baby, my dad died, and all this stuff kind of goes on. My granny died. And you learn so much and you bond with everybody. And then, so that scene somehow, that tapped into some hardcore crown grief. I think that for me, felt like the real wrap was that Friday.

The Crown Seasons 1-6 are all available to stream on Netflix.

Eric Green

Eric Green has over 25 years of professional experience producing creative, marketing, and journalistic content. Born in Flushing, Queens and based in Los Angeles, Green has a catalog of hundreds of articles, stories, photographs, drawings, and more. He is the director of the celebrated 2014 Documentary, Beautiful Noise and the author of the novella Redyn, the graphic novel Bonk and Woof, and the novel, The Lost Year. Currently, he is hard at work on a book chronicling the lives of the greatest Character Actors.