Anne Boleyn’s only surviving child, the princess who would rule England from November 1558 until her death as Elizabeth I, is irresistible catnip for actors. Cate Blanchett blazed her way into global fame as a young, ginger-haired royal in Elizabeth, while Dame Judi Dench took home an Oscar for playing the brusque, shrewd, savvy monarch in her latter years in Shakespeare in Love. It’s the gold standard in multi-dimensional roles: the daughter of King Henry VIII’s second wife, who was declared illegitimate and then wound up ruling her country during one of its most glorious periods.
Now, Harley Quinn herself is donning that crown — and the results are hair-raising, to say the least.
Yes, that’s Margot Robbie, she of the manic pigtails in Suicide Squad, in a curly wig in that signature Tudor red, with pockmarked skin, shooting Mary Queen of Scots, slated for a 2018 release. The film explores Mary Stuart’s (Saoirse Ronan) desperate and ill-advised efforts to overthrow her all-powerful and crafty cousin, Elizabeth, before winding up imprisoned.
The backstory is juicy enough, but the hair tells its own tale. Back during the Elizabethan era, red hair was hot and bangs were out. The desired style was an updo, preferably with frizz, with hair brushed severely away from the forehead. Turns out, Elizabeth herself liked frizzy hair and so did the rest of society — as the leader of her world, she was also its main trendsetter.
As for skin, the paler, the better. Since most of us don’t have flawless porcelain complexions, the Elizabethans — at least those who could afford it — used a product called ceruse, which was a blend of vinegar and, wait for it, white lead. As you might guess, it was mad toxic and women died from lead poisoning.
Makes you thankful for skin-tone inclusivity, right?
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Now, learn about the history of hair coloring:
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