old-age: The Virgin Queen

The Virgin Queen

Lettice Knollys (Sienna Guillory), the Countess of Essex, was a young lady-in-waiting to queen Elizabeth I until she was banished from court for having the temerity to marry the Earl of Leicester, the queen’s favourite.

She did not see the Queen again for twenty years – ten years after the death of Dudley – and then only briefly.

In 1599 her son, the Earl of Essex and the Queen’s favourite in his turn, returned from Ireland in defiance of the Queen’s express command and famously presented himself in her bedchamber one morning before she was properly wigged or gowned. In 1601 he led an abortive coup – according to this version encouraged by his mother – and was executed.

Lettice would have been about fifty-eight at the oldest point she was seen in The Virgin Queen.

The makeup

Neill Gorton was responsible for the prosthetic makeup. Karen Hartley-Thomas was the makeup designer; Laura [Loz] Schiavo was the makeup artist; Maureen McGill & Anna Morena were the hair stylist/makeup artists.

At IMATS, where these prosthetics were on display, Neill was telling me about the problems with making the female age makeups from this mini-series work given the fashion for Elizabethan women to ‘whitewash’ their faces. He expanded on this in theme his now-defunct Blog which also had some images of Sienna’s makeup before ‘whitewashing’ and talked about working with Sienna:

She’s the only actress I know who sits in the chair at the begining of a major makeup with a huge grin on her face actually looking forward to having all this funny rubber stuff slapped on her face.