Actress Anastasia Griffith isn’t a wallflower when it comes to fashion and beauty.
She arrives on set in an ensemble that give off the air of an indie music video director — oozing effortless style with a cool, sophisticated hint of hipster sensibility. In the hair and makeup chair, she’s a pro and knows exactly what will and won’t work on her.
The veteran status of the British actress is apparent in more than her familiarity with onset hair and makeup routines, her performance in BBC America’s Copper is as commanding, as it is delicate in layers, revealing the training and experience of a seasoned professional. A graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Griffith has garnered popularity over the years from television serieses including the Golden Globe Award winning drama Damages and a recent recurring guest spot on ABC’s popular Once Upon a Time, in which she played Kathryn Nolan, or Princess Abigail as her character is known in the Enchanted Forest.
Currently starring in season two of Copper, the actress finds the ideal channel for her natural sophistication in the form of her character Elizabeth Haverford, a socialite and wife of fellow aristocrat Robert Morehouse (Kyle Schmid) — a woman with a brain and will that surpasses the expectations applied to those of her gender living in 1865 New York City,
Impressed by Griffith overall look, we couldn’t help but get into a chat with her about beauty secrets and personal style/grooming philosophies. Below, the actress on the politics of women’s fashion in the 1800s, essentials products and her thoughts on the very notion of conventional “beauty.”
The beauty looks on Copper are very natural, in line with the makeup looks of the Civil War period. Do you prefer a more natural look yourself?
I am not sure I like a natural look per se, I don’t really step out without a little eyeliner (usually inside the top lid), a little eyebrow pencil and some mascara because I am pretty fair. But, I rarely go for the full shindig! I am just not that expert at applying shadow and stuff, so I tend to keep that pretty simple. It’s all about the occasion.
It’s true, you don’t want to over do it.
There’s nothing worse in my mind that looking like you have tried too hard, but the lack of make up in season one of the show was brutal. I would never intentionally do that to myself!
That’s funny, it was pretty minimal I guess. The hair on the other hand looks like it would take some time! Think you could do that all the time if you were living back in the 1860s?
I would have to. It was just what was expected of women at the time. I imagine they’ve got it down to a fine art though. I spend about an hour to an hour and a half in hair and make up in the mornings. I wear a wig on the show so usually the ‘do is done, but it takes time to glue that thing in place.
I imagine you would want to avoid anything too complicated in your everyday life, since you spend so much time on hair for the show.
In my own life I am pretty into natural hair, nothing too done or sculpted although I am having to change my style out of necessity, as I had to cut my hair short recently, which has required a major image overhaul! No more hippy hair it seems.
In terms of self-image and society’s notion of “ideal” beauty, do you think it was easier for women back then to feel confident about their appearance without the mass media’s idea of “beauty” to compare themselves to?
Sure. I think things have gone to a place of insanity these days, quite literally. It is making women feel very negatively about themselves, their bodies, and giving us a warped idea of our role in the world, I think. Appearances have always mattered for women though. During this period (1800s) I really see it being about survival. They need a man, a good marriage, a protector to survive it all, and we all know men like a pretty woman on their arm. It really is base biology, survival of the fittest if you will.
And what about today? Is there still a little bit of that ideology left over?
I just think today we have taken that and warped it. I don’t for a second think men are the ones who want to look at a skeletal woman who is miserable and hungry! I think that is something that women and the fashion industry have created all for ourselves. I think men value sensuality and grace so much more than we realize!
I think I agree with you on that. Speaking of grace and sensuality, let’s talk a bit about your summer beauty look. What are you going for: bronzed, something more neutral, or do you prefer a splash of statement color?
I am always about a bronzed look. It works for my coloring and I think looks really healthy. I love the summer, I love the beach, drinking cocktails by a pool in a bikini ensemble and hiking in the heat of the California mountains, and all of that just looks better with a tan! The irony is a tan suits me, but I have pretty Irish skin, so I often have to fake it for a month of two before I get going au naturel! I am not ashamed to say it.
Don’t be! If your character Elizabeth Haverford was living in the today’s modern era, what current beauty trends do you think she would be following?
Oh she would be edgy for sure. Much more edgy than I am. I think she’d go a little hipster chic, she likes pushing boundaries and having fun with fashion, so she would be the trendsetter amongst her circle. Even at school you always knew who those types were didn’t you? When you are all wearing the same thing, but one person has tied a creatively placed knot or hiked a skirt to the just right length! I was never that person (I was always the one standing next to them!), but Elizabeth certainly is.
What’s your usual evening beauty routine?
I have just found the Pure and Simple line here in Canada, which I love because it is all natural. I believe nature has all the ingredients we need to keep ourselves healthy and young, so I love learning about what does what in their products. I currently wash my face with a gentle Jurlique foaming cleanser, followed by a rose water toner, then the Pure and Simple collagen serum and then the Pure and Simple Camellia Oil. I just bought their eye cream too, and sometimes add some Jurlique moisturizer on top. I am all lathered up and shiny by the end of it, but I have dry skin, so I am keen to keep it really hydrated at night. Sometimes I will slather myself in pure coconut oil or shea butter after a hot, indulgent bath, and I take evening primrose and vitamin A supplements to keep my skin lubricated also.
That’s quite the regime! How do you transition from your daytime beauty look to the perfect evening look when in a rush?
I usually just add some smokiness around the eyes, back comb/flat iron my hair a little and put on a pair of heels. I have been known to go for a little orange pop on the lips instead though. That’s only when my skin is feeling really even and clear.
A little pop is always nice! Who is your beauty idol? What about her beauty looks inspires your own look?
I have always thought Brigitte Bardot was something a little special. I guess I do try and take something from her hair situation when my hair is long enough. She had amazing hair! I think Audrey Hepburn was my favorite as a teenager, but she is a totally different look and shape to me, so I don’t think it’s that transferable. I think you have to know what kind of a look will work on you. For me it’s more Michelle Pfeiffer, Gwen Stefani or dare I say it, Gwyneth Paltrow that I think I have stolen from! I guess I am a bit of a Californian girl at heart, and have tried to embrace that natural beauty, angled with a bit of an edge.
What beauty items can we find in your purse?
I tend to carry my make up bag with me everywhere just in case. I don’t wear that much or any much of the time, but I would hate to get caught short if I bumped into someone or had to go to a last minute meeting or something! So I currently have a bunch of Makeup Forever stuff in there. I like that line. They have great colors. I also always have a stick of scent. I am currently using either Joe Malone Pomegranate Noir or Mor Cosmetics Snow Gardenia. And lip balm…nothing worse than dry lips.
When preparing for the red carpet, is less more or do you think it’s an occasion to go full out glam?
Go full glam. Especially with hair and make up, whatever that means to you. I often dress quite simply, but you want your hair and makeup to be a look. And always have false eyelashes. They make all the difference.