By Emily Hochberg
Beautifying this world is a tough job but someone’s gotta do it and stylist Paul Venoit is up to task. The world renowned makeup artist returns as host for the new season of “Look-A-Like” on September 24th on the TV Guide Network – and right now on Fancast. He’ll help lead VIP transformations on regular people who look like celebrities into those stars alongside top stylists Jeffrey Altenburg (Make-Up Artist), Alissia Marciano (Fashion Stylist), and photographer David Goldman for a head to toe A-List makeover. Venoit, who’s worked with Hollywood elite like Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, and Pam Anderson, put down his brushes and compacts to talk to Fancast about what’s coming up in this sure to be fabulous new season.
So why don’t you tell me a little bit about how you got involved with the show?
I’ve been doing the show for a long time now. Producers contacted me and asked if I would be interested in doing a celebrity makeover show because a lot of the work I do is celebrity based. And it just seemed to be a really good fit, and my background is hair, makeup, and fashion and I chose to do the makeup on the show because I love doing the transformations and that’s how it all came to be. I could have been the hair dresser should I wanted to but makeup was going to be my thing on this gig.
Tell me a little bit of Bianca’s episode (Season Premiere) as America Ferrera?
Bianca was fantastic! She was a ball of energy, Brazilian and feisty and funny, she’s a huge fan of America Ferrera so it was wonderful to see her come to life and really enjoy the Look-A-Like experience
What do you usually look for in contestants? Besides just the fact that they look like the celebrity?
We look for an energy because at the end of day we are making TV so we look for someone who has the energy to make the day fun for everyone. When Bianca came in for the audition it was so obvious, it was like, duh, you just don’t get all the time. She came in as America Ferrera and was just an ideal candidate.
What’s it like when someone comes in who is just so NOT the person they are trying to be?
When that happens you’re just so shocked. People would come in thinking they look like Brad Pitt; that’s a pretty tall order to fill! There are these people look nothing like who they say. There’s this girl who has come back for four auditions now as Paris Hilton. The only thing about her that looks like Paris Hilton is her hair and the Chihuahua. There’s no resemblance but in her head she thinks she does and every season she comes back. Maybe next season she should try Nicky Hilton! It’s funny but there are just some people who are hardcore fans and just believe it to be the truth.
But that’s a great story! Can you recall any highlights from past episodes or some of your favorite moments?
I was so excited to finally find a Jennifer Lopez, that was one we were looking for four seasons now, and this girl came in with this wonderful energy and there was something magical about her Latina vibe and she was ideal to transform to J.Lo. And then I thought we were being punked at one point when a Hilary Swank look a like came in and I knew she was in Toronto filming and I thought oh my God, that’s Hilary Swank. And she made a wonderful makeover as well, very clean and simple Oscar winning starlet transformation.
And what else is coming up this season that you’re looking forward to?
The J.Lo definitely, America a lot of fun, Hilary Swank just because no one is going to believe it. I can’t remember them all, we did 26 episodes!
How is it for you to go from a stylist turned host? Is that a dream day job or what?
You know what? It’s a lot of fun. This whole project Look-A-Like experience for the style team and for the crew is just magic when you walk onto the set. The mandate is to create this fantasy world for our Look-A-Like person. When you’re doing that you really see how special it is for this person, in some cases a once in a lifetime opportunity. And the crew and style team, everyone just has fun with the project. And I’ve done others where it’s like can we laugh now? And on the set of Look-A-Like it definitely does and I think that does comes across on camera that everyone is having a good time. I worked with Elisha Cuthbert; she had seen her episode and thought it was great. I sometimes work with celebrities after the show because it rotates so often.
Have a lot of your clients seen their makeovers on the show and contacted you?
Oh yeah, Elisha Cuthbert, Pamela Anderson. We didn’t make fun of them it was a lot of fun. There are those moments. It’s always fun to do young Hollywood like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie. Very Hollywood rock and roll turned style makes for great TV and then you take someone who’s a little more classic and traditional in their style like Julia Roberts or Drew Barrymore who was a lot fun.
What’s it like to go from working with A-list talent to wannabe A-listers?
It’s fulfilling. You’re creating an opportunity for regular people who never have had hair, makeup, and styling all on them at one moment and it’s like it’s your wedding day. It’s that fantasy moment of being completely pampered and all eyes are on you.
That’s true, you think you’re only going to get your one day and here it is, another chance!
It really is, you can never really be sure where they are coming from when they enter the set. It’s intimidating, they come in and are introduced to the style team and we have one on one time to make them feel comfortable and as special as they can so that they feel like the character. Our job is to get them all warmed up for the photo shoot and big reveal at the end of the day. And in some cases when they see themselves on camera at the end some people are just shocked at the resemblance. It gets emotional and you don’t get to see all of that on the show. Often times the mothers are crying because she’s so happy about the daughter who was an introvert and now had this experience who would never normally have. And one of our guys who we did as Justin Timberlake, he went on from look-A-Like and is on the TV show Degrassi Junior High now.
Do you keep tabs on what happens after your makeovers?
Yeah, sometimes we hear about them, they follow up with emails and it’s always nice to see this experience actually turned into something else. That’s the type of energy that comes through and wants to have an episode and it becomes a stepping stone to make dreams come to a reality. I don’t think that kid thought about being a serious actor but now he has a major role on a very established program.
What celebrity are you hoping to do that hasn’t been done yet?
We haven’t had a Jessica Simpson yet! So it would be nice to see a Jessica.
I saw also there are some people you’ve done more than once, like Angelina Jolie.
Yes, we did. That doesn’t happen often. We’ll do it something if they have a different look. Our last Angelina was one of my favorite episodes as well. But we won’t do that often. We’ve also done some good guys. They tend to be popular with the fans. We had no idea how large of a transformation our Brad Pitt would be. He had just lost 70 – 90 pounds.
Wow, so to already undergo that incredible personal transformation, and then to be made into a star on top of it has to be the ultimate confidence booster!
No kidding, when we saw his pictures you would never even recognize him, he was a huge man. The transformation in his life is just unbelievable. And from that I think he began modeling. He had a very red carpet Brad Pitt at the end of the episode.
Do you get an equal number of guys and girls? When you think of a typical makeover show you probably would expect more girls, but do you get a lot of guys too?
Yeah, I think the majority of our makeovers are definitely females but we do men and I think what lends itself well to doing make makeovers now is we’ve gone into the whole metrosexual change where men are learning to take better care of their skin and they’re learning about clothes and accessorizing and a lot of Hollywood’s leading men have own unique style. So it makes it a great opportunity to give the male viewer an inside look at male grooming and fashion. And I say that based on the fan mail I get about those segments. I get letters from women saying ‘I love what my boyfriend does now and uses concealer for his skin tone and not using mine anymore!’ It’s funny to see what the viewer gets from these shows, there’s a lot of feedback. It’s always great to know the viewer is being entertained but also educated
What celebrity do you think you look like or would want to be made over as? Not that YOU need a makeover, of course.
I get two. I get Simon Le Bon; I worked with Duran Duran last year and I was running around with him and I guess I looked like him or belonged in the band.
That’s everyone’s dream! To be a rock star!
No kidding! I get him and I get Christopher Walken. That’s who I look like.
So either Duran Duran or Christopher Walken? That’s really two ends of a spectrum!
I know, but we have to go young Christopher Walken because if we go for old I’m going to be so depressed. Everyone has a celebrity look a like.
Celebrity Look-A-Likes is really a great conversation starter and it’s a great thing you’re doing.
I’m Thrilled to be a part of team every season. Just when you think you can’t talk about a smokey eye pale lip anymore, we hear about it in somewhere in Asia like Thailand where the show also airs. I’m all about the smokey eye and pale lip, it’s a look that is glamorous on most women, and in somewhere like Thailand, we’ll hear how fans there will be speaking in Thai and then “smokey eye pale lip” in English.
It’s just one of those things you never get tired of talking about or learning tips of how to create this on yourself