Sofia Vergara left behind her beloved character Gloria Pritchett in “Modern Family” when the show ended in 2020, and now the actress has returned to portraying dynamic figures in Netflix‘s “Griselda,” which premiered on Netflix on Thursday. In the series, Vergara plays Griselda Blanco, the Colombian drug dealer who built an empire during the Miami drug wars in the 1970s and 1980s.
While preparing for the series, Vergara found herself in a dilemma: How does one convince the audience that they are no longer a light-hearted, comical and incredibly well-known character, but instead a durg trafficker who was also known as the “Cocaine Godmother” and “The Black Widow,” among other threatening nicknames?
To help her on this mission, Vergara enlisted the power of makeup.
“Getting the look correct was very important to me because I needed to disappear. I wanted no one to think of me or my last role as Gloria Pritchett,” Vergara said in a statement released by Netflix. “I had an incredible hair and makeup design team that did an amazing job creating this character.”
According to Andrés Baiz, director and executive producer of “Griselda,” the goal was to make Vergara feel like she was someone else. “Any difference that would give Sofía confidence was what became important — in the eyebrows, the nose, hair. She wanted to feel like a different person, but not to the point in which the prosthetics or makeup took over her performance. It had to be subtle,” Baiz said.
Angela Nogaro and Dennis Parker, the heads of “Griselda’s” makeup and hair departments, worked closely with Vergara’s beauty team — makeup artist Todd McIntosh and hairstylist Kelly Kline — to create the character’s look.
“It’s all about taking her absolutely exotic face and turning it into an average face,” McIntosh explained. “One of Sofía’s signature features are her beautiful eyebrows. She wanted to not have those and have that tweezed-out, late-’70s look instead. So she’s wearing prosthetic eyebrow covers and then false eyebrows that are glued on top of that. Then she has a prosthetic nose that dulls down her beautiful, cute nose, and a plate of teeth that are slightly bucked, slightly uneven, a little bit discolored. We even yellow out her bottom teeth a bit more because she smokes all the way through the show.”
According to McIntosh, Vergara’s makeup transformation took about an hour and a half before each day on set.
“Every time we tried to make her hair bigger or more exactly period, it just made her look too beautiful,” Kline said. “So every hairstyle is flatter and smaller than it really should be to make her look more real as opposed to just Sofía with a wig. It’s not about the hair in the show, where in real life, with Sofía, it’s all about the hair, the clothes and the glamour. This is not about hair and not about makeup, not about any of that. It’s about the story, and it’s fantastic.”
The result of Vergara’s transformation impressed everyone on the set, including showrunner Ingrid Escajeda. “The first day on set, I remember walking out thinking, ‘Wow, that’s Griselda.’ And underneath the prosthetics, Sofía’s natural charm shone through,” she said.
Sofia Vergara in “Griselda.”
COURTESY OF NETFLIX
Vergara’s makeup transformation has been the subject of interest during the “Griselda” promotional tour. On “The Kelly Clarkson Show” on Wednesday, the actress talked about the process with the singer-turned-television host. “I feel like they only changed your nose,” Clarkson said. Vergara explained she spent “hours” to achieve the transformation. “They did a lot to me! It was teeth. It was wig. It was nose. It was plastic from here to here,” Vergara said. Clarkson added, “It probably took time, but the slight change completely changed your being….They did such a good job; it looks seamless.”
“Griselda,” created by the same producers of “Narcos,” also features Karol G, Alberto Guerra, Christian Tappan, Martín Rodríguez, Juliana Aidén Martinez and Vanessa Ferlito. The show is now available for streaming on Netflix.