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Stage Actor Hair: Mary Louise Parker


I have been a huge fan of Mary Louise Parker's since I saw her in the 1995 film, Boys On The Side. I was completely mesmerized by her fantastic acting job in her role as the somewhat controversial Robin who was dealing with issues of AIDs and alternative lifestyles.

(Image to the side of Mary Louise Parker at the 2004 Golden Globe Awards - NBC Photo: Chris Haston all rights reserved - where she won for best supporting actress in a mini-series).

Imagine my excitement when I hooked up via cell phone with one of my favorite celebrity hairdressers, Robert Hallowell, a few weeks ago while he was stuck in an early morning LA freeway traffic jam rushing towards a booking with Mary Louise.

After teasing Robert (shown to the side) about being stuck in a virtual California parking lot, I asked him where he was heading at that ungodly hour of the morning. "To do Mary Louise Parker's hair for a photo gallery on a new Showtime pilot", he explained. "Oooohhhh, tell me more", I begged.

Robert explained that the new pilot is called "Weed" and is about a contemporary mom (Mary Louise) who sells marijuana, in appropriate legal situations (for patients with cancer or glaucoma), but fights illegal drug related crimes on the side. Even more interesting, the boy who plays Mary Louise's son is Alexander Gould, Nemo's voice in the blockbuster Finding Nemo film. Also in the pilot is Elizabeth Perkins (from Big with Tom Hanks).

It seems that Robert met Mary Louise some years back when he did hair for the Indigo Girls, who appeared in the Boys On The Side film. As a result of the Boys project, Robert and Mary Louise have been acquainted for years.

As a result of his long working connection with Mary Louise, she specifically requested Robert to be the head hairdresser for the pilot and to work with her hair. In his role on the Showtime pilot, Robert designed all of the hair styles worn by Mary Louise, Elizabeth and the key cast members. He also personally coiffed Mary Louise's various styles.

In his role as lead hairdresser and hair designer, Robert studies the script and get feedback from the directors and actors on how the individual characters might look for their roles.

But What About Her Hair?

In her role as a contemporary mom, Robert explained that Mary Louise is first, and foremost, concerned about being very true to the character. When creating her hairstyles for her role Robert told me he "was very impressed by the fact that Mary Louise puts her vanity aside and focuses on finding the most authentic look for the character." Robert explained that Mary Louise "cares less about how good she might look on screen and more about honoring how the character's hair and overall appearance would look, even if it is less than flattering."

Robert detailed how he and Mary Louise went through every scene of the pilot and discussed what her character might be feeling or projecting. Since her character was a contemporary mom who was dealing with a young son and pushing society's marijuana envelope, she would experience a range of emotions from busy, tired, worried and just trying to survive as a mom, dealing with a young son.

Weaving all of the character's emotions together, Robert and Mary Louise created hairstyles that would work in harmony with the moods, feelings and lifestyle of the actual character.

Honoring Mary Louise's character, Robert created a style that he defined as "contemporary with a slight edge". It was certainly "not a soccer mom hairdo" but "definitely an easy hair design that a go-go mom would find flattering, but easy to create." Bottom line, Robert and Mary Louise agreed that the goal was "to shoot for simple, but polished with a slightly hip undertone".

Robert Hallowell Prawduct - shine booster shampoo -  8.5 oz (250 ml)

Robert reported that Mary Louise has below-the-shoulder, medium textured, naturally curly hair with some waves intermingled with the curls. Currently her hair is brunette with some constrasting highlights.

Robert Hallowell Prawduct - the flat factor - 5 oz (150 ml)

Starting by washing her hair with Prawduct shine booster shampoo Robert finished with the Prawduct shine booster conditioner. He then spritzed a little of the Prawduct super volumizing tonic (featured by Instyle Makeover Magazine) to her roots, to pump in some balanced root volume. He then applied the Flat Factor product to the rest of her towel blotted, slightly damp locks, before he used a round boar's brush to blow her strands out straight.

Robert explained that the Prawduct shine booster shampoo is great for Mary Louise's slightly dry naturally curly/wavy strands because it is a gentle shampoo made from a shea and mango butter base. The shine booster shampoo also includes essential oils such as pink grapefruit and lavender to soften, condition and sooth the cuticle.

Robert Hallowell Prawduct - love that shine drops -  2 oz (60 ml)

After blowing out her below-the-shoulder tresses, Robert used a curling iron "with a medium sized barrel" (approximately 1 inch) working in approximately 1-2 inch sections around the head, creating full body that ended in a soft curl at the ends.

Robert finished with a few tiny drops of Prawduct love that shine drops that he rubbed into the palms of his hands and then smoothed over the top of Mary Louise's style. He finished up with a spritz of Prawduct rawhold hairspray for long lasting hold and soft movement.

Next For Mary Louise

Once Mary Louise finishes her work on the Showtime pilot she will be jetting back to New York where she will begin working at Broadway's Biltmore Theatre on September 23rd. Her next role involves portraying a beleaguered housewife in "Reckless", the dark comedy written by Craig Lucas.

In the past the actress, who Robert confirmed is "a spectacular stage actor" has won a Tony for her theater work in Proof and is highly regarded in the professional theater world.

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- Revised Publication Date: 05/22/10

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