How LaKeith Stanfield’s Wigs Came Together In “The Book Of Clarence”

Photos: Courtesy of Storyline PR.

In Jeymes Samuel’s new biblical comedy-drama The Book Of Clarence, Get Out actor LaKeith Stanfield delivers an epic performance as Clarence alongside Alfre Woodard and Teyana Taylor. With a soundtrack from producer Jay-Z in the background, the character faces obstacles along his journey to becoming the new Messiah. And, for Stanfield, morphing into this character also meant turning his hairstyle back in time to the year A.D. 33, of course.

“Clarence had two different wigs,” hair stylist Siân Richards tells ESSENCE. “The first was his ‘ragamuffin’ wig and the inspiration for that wig came from [the director] Jeymes’ own hair.” Stanfield’s first wig, which resembled the director’s afro, defined the introduction of his character, Clarence, hustling to make ends meet. 

“The second wig was Clarence’s moneyed-up look,” Richards says. “By this time he made some cash, went to the beauty parlor and got his hair cleaned and styled, so it was the same style but sharper and bejeweled with golden lock clips that I stuck real lapis lazuli on to.” Referencing Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Tutankhamun, Aladdin, and Jesus Christ himself, Richards styled Stanfield’s wig with 14 lapis crystals as a “subliminal representation of the 14 stations of the cross,” she says. This is fitting (spoiler alert), considering he carries the cross and is crucified in this hair style.

How The Wigs Came Together In “The Book Of Clarence”
Pontius Pilate (James McAvoy) and Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield) in TriStar Pictures’ THE BOOK OF CLARENCE.

Additionally, Stanfield plays Clarence’s twin brother, Thomas, as well. “Jeymes suggested an afro, but I also wanted to address a different type of texture because LaKeith and I worked to make Thomas a slightly lighter skin tone with lighter eyes than Clarence,” she says, addressing colorism through both characters. “Once we got LaKeith’s head shape, I passed that to the wig maker and we started the process of making those three wigs.” 

But Richards’ work did not end with the head. “We also did two types of beards for Clarence and Thomas which were hand laid every day by my assistant Federico Carretti who is a master at this,” she says. Stanfield, known for his scruffy, grown-out facial hair, had his natural beard layered into both of his characters’ for film. “[Carretti] would lay and combine Clarence’s beard over LaKeith’s existing one in order to change his growth pattern,” she shares. “He did an entirely different texture and color blend for Thomas, whose beard I wanted to look more like a cloud,” which took up to an hour to lay.

Additionally, Richards was very intentional about Stanfield’s makeup, using her London Hydroproof Palette in Essence for foundation and concealer, while his eyes were lined with Moroccan Kohl powder.  She also used a dewy finishing spray on his skin to give it a realistic glow. “I sometimes added gold shimmer to under-paint some light onto his skin prior to makeup,” she says. “This worked well for night shoots as it lifted his features and made his skin look gorgeous.”

Overall, it was the camaraderie on set for the film that kept Richards motivated. “Everyone was dancing if they were not working. This elevated the vibration of the movie tremendously,” she shares. “Working with LaKeith again was like coming home; to be able to support his process and enable him to feel secure and loved while playing this character– which was incredibly challenging for him to play– is something I treasure.

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