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Utah hair and makeup artist Tim Muir faced a tricky dilemma: how to make Elizabeth Olsen look average.
"Elizabeth Olsen is gorgeous," said Muir, the owner of Alter Ego Studio Salon in South Jordan. "She couldn't have a bad day if she tried."
Muir spent seven weeks in Park City last spring as department head of hair on the Taylor Sheridan written-and-directed film, "Wind River," which premieres Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival.
When designing hair for "Wind River," also starring Jeremy Renner and Jon Bernthal, celebrity glamour took a back seat to real life.
"We had to make [the actors] look like the average person. Sometimes you would do a ponytail and that was it," said Muir. "I had to make them look like an everyday person with wind-blown hair or who hasn't washed their hair in a couple of days. It's totally different than what I am used to behind the chair."
A national educator for the International Hair Fashion Group, Muir is the lead stylist for local celebrity personalities such as ABC 4 Utah anchors Kim Fischer and Kimberly Nelson, as well as stylist for U92 radio DJ Jay R the Superstar. Muir also styles for a handful of Los Angeles-based celebrities and has worked on fashion runway shows in New York and Atlanta.
The opportunity, he said, to work on the directorial-debut by Sheridan (the screenwriter known best for "Sicario" and "Hell or High Water") was due in part to relentless networking.
"It's about who you know in the industry," said Muir. "I had cut Taylor's hair several times before and he has known a lot of the stuff I have done. He wanted to bring me on the film because he knows I have a very good eye for attention to detail I do a lot of research."
Muir read the "Wind River" script several times to get to know the characters on a level that would enable him to bring them to life. When creating a look for Olsen, who plays a rookie FBI agent working a case on the Wind River Indian Reservation, Muir looked beyond her natural beauty and red-carpet appeal and focused on what the character of Jane Banner would look like working in rough winter conditions a far cry from what he is used to doing in his studio.
"I am used to making people look amazing and beautiful," he said. "When they leave the salon I want them to feel like a red-carpet-ready celebrity."
Designing hair for a movie, Muir said, requires long hours on set and the challenge of creating the exact same look for a scene that is filmed on different days and making a stunt double look like the actor they are standing in for.
Muir, who specializes in multicultural hair texture and color, welcomed the challenges as opportunities to hone his craft.
"Sometimes you're shooting two or three scenes that are the same day and your double will go off in a car and the main actors are in another place," he said. "That's where your creative comes out. How do we make this person that doesn't look anything like the actor look like them so that nobody knows it's not the same person?" Once the filming wrapped, Muir returned to his salon in South Jordan (http://www.alteregostudiosalon.com). Since his work on "Wind River," he has received offers to work on other films slated for production later this year. He will also attend Sundance to provide hair services for Sheridan and his wife.
As he looks to the future, Muir said he hopes to educate more stylists in working with different textures and continue to evolve the art of styling and coloring hair.
"There are stylists and there are artists," he said. "To be an artist, those are the people who really want to hone their craft. For me, it's not just a job that I go to every day. It's a way to express myself and to really show my artistry and what I see as beautiful."
"Wind River," directed by Taylor Sheridan and starring Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner and Jon Bernthal, is screening as part of the Sundance Premieres program on Saturday (9:30 p.m., Eccles Center Theatre in Park City), Sunday (9 a.m. at the Eccles Center Theatre; 6:30 p.m. at the Grand Theatre in Salt Lake City), Wednesday (9 p.m. at Sundance Mountain Resort) and Saturday, Jan. 28 (11:59 p.m., Library Center Theatre in Park City).
How to Sundance
When • Thursday to Jan. 29
Where • Park City and venues in Salt Lake City and the Sundance resort in Provo Canyon.
Passes and ticket packages • On sale at sundance.org/festivals. Most are sold out, but some are still available.
Individual tickets • Tickets are $25 for the first half of the festival in Park City (Jan. 19-24), $20 for Salt Lake City screenings and for the second half in Park City (Jan. 25-29).
Information • sundance.org/festivals