Deadline contributor Elizabeth Snead files this Emmy report:
Kevin Alexander, head hair stylist for HBO’s epic fantasy series Game of Thrones and with Candice Banks nominated for Emmy’s Outstanding Hairstyling In A Single-Camera Series, submitted “A Golden Crown” for his submission episode. Fittingly, this is the episode in which hair color reveals a major plot twist. After Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean) daughter Sansa says she wants to marry and give Prince Joffrey Baratheon “children with beautiful blond hair,” it suddenly dawns on Stark that the fair prince is not dark-haired King Robert Baratheon’s (Mark Addy) real heir.
According to Alexander, the characters’ hair color was as critical an ID for the houses of Baratheon, Lannister, Stark and Targaryen as their elk, lion, wolf and dragon emblems. “All the Lannisters shared the same hair color but in different concentrations. So we wove blond and brown hues into the hair of Jamie [Nikolaj Coster-Waldau] and Tyrion [Peter Dinklage] in various depths. We wanted Jamie blonder than the others so we brought him up first, then colored and put in the three colors with an over-all toner so it didn’t look streaked. I took the same colors for Cersei’s son Prince Joffrey [Jack Gleeson] and on Cersei’s [Lena Heady] wig so they all fell into the same line.”
There’s more red in the Stark House, reflected in Lady Catelyn Stark’s (Michelle Fairley) deep auburn hair – with a ¾ length hairpiece, in her son Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) red highlighted bowl cut, younger daughter Arya Stark’s dark reddish hair and, most prominently, in older daughter Sansa (Sophie Turner) bright red locks. “Sophie is naturally a baby blond but because she was only fourteen-years-old, we used a vegetable dye that we had to freshen every week,” Alexander explains.
For the Targaryen platinum blond brother and sister – Viserys III (Harry Lloyd) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) — color was another challenge. “It took a long time to get where we wanted to go, to make it work with their skin tones and be true to the book’s descriptions,” Alexander said. “Onscreen, if you go too silver, it will look gray. If you go too gold, it will look yellow. We had to put bald caps on them, then the wigs, to get of all traces of dark underneath. If we had bleached their hair, we would have had to do the roots every few weeks. It would have ruined their real hair.”
Khal Drogo’s (Jason Momoa) long braided hair – uncut because he had never been beaten in battle — was also a feat for the hair team. “We used a ¾ piece so we could use his own hairline and weave it in every day. It was was over 38 inches long so it sat in the crease in the back of his bum because in books it says that he could sit on it.”
Even the men of the King’s Watch had their hair dyed darker. And to keep the guards’ hair looking gritty, real and rugged, Alexander used his secret weapon: Fingers. “We never used a brush on anyone.”
As for the Thrones hair headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, and on the Isle of Malta, where all the Dothraki scenes were shot, “everyone either had color, wigs or hairpieces. And between the hairpieces, wigs and main actors, extras and background talent’s real hair, it was like a packed salon all the time,” Alexander recalls. “Luckily, no one said, ‘I want my own hairdresser.’ They all had complete faith in us.”