- Sofia Vergara stars in Griselda, the Netflix series about Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco.
- For the role, Vergara underwent a physical transformation, including a prosthetic nose.
- He also bleached his teeth and straightened his hair to achieve the look.
When you think of Sofia Vergara, the role that probably comes to mind is the glamorous firecracker Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on the long-running sitcom Modern Family.
But in “Griselda,” released Thursday on Netflix, Vergara transformed into Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco.
The New York Times reports that Vergara pitched the series to “Narcos” director Eric Newman in 2015, three years after the famous “cocaine godmother” was killed.
Newman and his “Narcos” co-star Andres Baiz have signed on, and the series has been announced for 2021.
“He knew a lot about this woman,” Baiz told the Times. “And he felt strongly that there was a part of his story that hadn’t been explored on screen before.”
The six-part series follows Blanco’s life since she moved to Miami as a newly single mother in the late 1970s.
The empire she built there attracted the attention of June Hawkins, played by Juliana Aiden Martinez, one of Florida’s first female homicide detectives.
Here’s how Vergara transformed into a real-life cocaine queen with the help of makeup, prosthetics, and really straight hair.
Vergara wanted to distance herself from her “Modern Family” character
Vergara and her fellow producers knew she would have to go through a serious physical transformation to separate her from her beloved “Modern Family” character.
According to production notes provided to Business Insider, it took some trial and error as the team came up with several different hair and makeup designs.
“We went through a few tests, some a little too much, some maybe not enough, but we found our way to a really great place,” said Newman, series creator and executive producer. .
The team even resorted to facial prosthetics to hide some of the star’s striking natural features.
“Any difference that would give Sofia confidence was important in the eyebrows, the nose, the hair,” said Baiz, the show’s director.
“She wanted to feel like a different person, but not so much that prosthetics or make-up would take over her performance,” she said. “It had to be subtle.”
“It was very important for me to get the look right because I had to disappear,” Vergara said.
“I didn’t want anyone to think about me or my last role as Gloria Pritchett. I wanted to get into Griselda’s mind and really understand her mentality, where she was coming from.”
Makeup artist Todd McIntosh, whose previous credits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was part of the team involved in getting the look just right.
“It’s all about taking her completely exotic face and turning it into an average face,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh and the show’s head of makeup and hair, Angela Nogaro, decided to give her a prosthetic nose, replace her thick eyebrows with period-appropriate thin ones, and cover her straightened, white teeth with uneven, slightly bent veneers.
“We even made her bottom teeth a little more yellow because she smokes throughout the show,” McIntosh said.
The NYT reports that Vergara said she spends three hours in the makeup chair every day.
Wigs didn’t work
Hairstylist Kelly Kline, who works with the hair department’s Dennis Parker, says there are a few false starts before nailing hair.
“Every time we tried to grow her hair or make it more precise, it just made her look so beautiful,” Kline said.
In the end, they settled on a hairstyle that provided the realism needed for the finished look.
“So every hairstyle is straighter and smaller than it needs to be to make her look more realistic, unlike Sophia with the wig,” Kline said.
The result of the team’s combined effort paid off, showrunner Ingrid Escajeda shared her reaction when she saw the actor after he emerged from the make-up trailer.
“I remember walking out the first day on set thinking, ‘Wow, this is Griselda.’ Sofia’s natural charm shined under the prosthetics,” he said.