Episode 35: We speak with Hair Designer Martin Samuel, Martin has worked on an amazing variety of projects from Pink Floyd’s The Wall to Hitchcock with Anthony Hopkins to Pirates of the Caribbean to Evita with Madonna. Martin chats about training in salons in London, his work with David Bowie and how important it is to have a strong committed team with you on those massive projects!
Martin Samuelʼs incredible film career spans 35 years, during which time he has hair-designed countless feature films in Los Angeles, Canada, London and Europe, as a Dept Head Hairstylist and also as a Personal Hairstylist for many Actors.
Martin started his career working as a hairstylist in London salons, and quickly became one of the most sought after hairstylists in the fashionable Swinging Sixties, he became the artistic director at ‘Crimpers’ the first unisex salon to open in London, but he soon moved into print, advertising, commercials and film. Sixties London was a hive of creativity, and he found himself working alongside many talented directors who were at the start of their careers with their own commercial production companies including Alan Parker, Michael Apted, Ridley and Tony Scott, Hugh Hudson and Adrian Lynne.
With these amazing collaborations it was only natural that he would segue into the movie industry with their first feature films. Martin first came to Los Angeles with the film, ‘STARDUST‘ starring Larry Hagman and David Essex a cult pop movie directed by Michael Apted. He then flew to New Mexico with director Nicholas Roeg, and created David Bowie‘s iconic hair for ‘THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH‘, who then asked him to join his spectacular ‘STATION TO STATION‘ European Tour and he continued working with Bowie in Berlin, eventually fulfilling his dream he moved to LA.
He became a member of Local 706 and worked on Michael Aptedʼs ‘Coal Miners Daughter’ with Cissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones he Dept Headed the musical ʻXANADU‘, with Olivia Newton John, and Gene Kelly and Alan Parkerʼs ‘Shoot The Moon’ with Diane Keaton and Albert Finney. Martin then returned to England to work with Alan Parker on ‘PINK FLOYD THE WALL‘, with Bob Geldof and Joanna Whalley Kilmer and Nicholas Roeg’s, ‘EUREKA’, with Theresa Russell, Rutger Hauer and Mickey Rourke, and ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ for Clive Donner with Jane Seymour, Anthony Andrews and Sir Ian McKellan and before taking a hiatus from the film industry. With his family, he settled in the English countryside, where he opened an exclusive hair and beauty salon and boutique, with his wife, Mary. He returned to the British film industry in 1992 with James Deardon’s ‘A KISS BEFORE DYING’, starring Sean Young and Matt Dillon, and then Bernardo Bertolucciʼs ‘LITTLE BUDDHA’, with Keanu Reeves. Franco Zeffirelli’s JANE EYRE William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg and Joan Plowright and many more films before working as Dept. Head Hairstylist and Hair Designer on ‘EVITA’, for director Sir Alan Parker. With Madonna and Antonio Banderas. Martin created over 42 hairstyles for Madonna, whom shone in her role as Eva Peron, and he was BAFTA nominated later that year for his work on the film and also received The New York BeautymEditors Award for his work on Madonna. He then moved back to Los Angeles where he resumed his career in U S A and his long list of movie credits speak for themselves. Martin worked with Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp on ‘BLOW’, before designing the hair, and department heading, ‘PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL’ with Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom & Keira Knightley in 2003 for which he received an Oscar nomination and won a BAFTA award from the UK.
He continued to work with Johnny Depp on ‘SECRET WINDOW’, and again with Penelope Cruz on ‘NOEL’, ‘SAHARA’, ‘CHROMOPHOBIA’, and ‘ELEGY’, and on Tony Scottʼs ʻDOMINOʼ with Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke After completing the Pirates Trilogy with ‘PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST’, and he received a 2006 BAFTA nomination and ‘PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: WORLD’S END’, for which he received a 2008 Oscar nomination, and the Saturn Award.
He then branched into TV and worked with Tracey Ullman on her Showtime series, ‘STATE OF THE UNION’. He designed more than 50 character wigs, and was nominated for an Emmy three years in succession for his work on the shows 3 yr run. Martins next movie was the musical extravaganza, ‘BURLESQUE’ for which he was the Dept. Head Hairstylist working with Kristen Bell, Julianne Hough, Stanley Tucci and Alan Cummings. He was Department Head Hair on the movie HITCHCOCK starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock and Dame Helen Mirren as his wife Alma together with Scarlett Johanssen, Jessica Biel, Toni Colette, James D’arcy and Danny Huston. He has been nominated for both an ACADEMY AWARD and a BAFTA AWARD for his work on this movie. During his time between movies he was very happy working on DANCING WITH THE STARS and many of the best Commercials we see on our screens.
Following HITCH he was the Department Head for the movie LOVE AND MERCY THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BRIAN WILSON starring Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks John Cusack and Paul Giamatti which brings him up to date. He currently works and resides in Los Angeles with his wife Mary and son Matthew.