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Getting Dressed With Kathryn Hahn

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The Violet Files

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The Transparent and I Love Dick star on French girl hair, heavy-duty sun protection, and a cocktail named Ranch Water.

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Kathryn Hahn is enjoying herself hugely. The I Love Dick star is spending the evening getting ready for the Television Academy’s Performers Peer Group Celebration (essentially, everyone with an Emmy nod gets together to party). Hahn has become sort of inescapable for a certain type of viewer due to her roles in Dick (her abbreviation, not ours) and Transparent, two Jill Soloway-helmed series that mine great humor and emotion from nuanced portrayals of contemporary sexuality and identity.

Quite rightly, the actress would like a celebratory cocktail. “I really wouldn’t mind a Ranch Water you guys,” she laughs, dispatching her team to make a room service request for the interestingly named drink. Turns out, a Ranch Water isn’t dirt; it’s tequila, sparkling water (usually Topo Chico), and a ton of fresh lime. They allegedly drink it in Texas, where Dick was filmed, but you get the impression that Hahn perhaps prefers the kind of bars with drinks named Ranch Water. A woman after our own heart then.

In Transparent, Hahn’s perfect as Raquel, a rabbi who juggles the sacred and earthy, working on both her relationship to God and her not-so-great relationship with a devastatingly self-absorbed music producer. I Love Dick is decidedly more on the surreal side, as her character enters a bizarre love triangle with her husband, played by Griffin Dunne, and an imaginary lover played by Kevin Bacon. Against the backdrop of the Marfa art scene, Hahn’s character descends into lust-induced madness. As you might expect, the show is a worthy homage to the seminal novel by Chris Kraus. We joined the star at The Montage in Beverly Hills to document her pre-event hair and makeup, and to discuss how to protect oneself from high heels, the perils of sunbathing, and—naturally—nuns.

kathryn hahn

SUBJECT: Kathryn Hahn
OCCASION: Television Academy’s Performers Peer Group Celebration
TEAM: Kayleen McAdams (makeup), Marilee Albin (hair), Karla Welch (styling)
VENUE: The Montage
THE LOOK: Dress by Monique Lhuillier, shoes by Stella Luna.

Is getting ready for events like this something you enjoy?
Do you know what, because I have two children, there’s something about it that’s relaxing. Usually, I don’t like to sit for a long, long time—I get a little bit of an ants-in-my-pants feeling—but I do not mind it at all [this evening]. Tonight is a peer group celebration for the Emmy voting body, just to get together and honor the nominees. Which is really fun. I get to see everybody from all the categories and party.

What was it like going into total love obsession and madness for I Love Dick?
I love that feeling of abandon. And there was something about the character of Chris Kraus—something in her complete lack of apology and lack of shame—that felt so different to what my experience of being a woman had been. It felt so totally anarchic and freeing. I knew playing a woman standing on her feet, pushing into her desire, and not apologizing for it or backing down was going to be an amazing challenge.

And also, I love Jill [Soloway]. I’ve worked with her before many times, so I knew what I was getting into creatively and that it was going to be a deep dive for sure. She also has a knack for hiring extraordinary human beings. I got to work with Griffin Dunne and Kevin Bacon—and stare into their eyes [laughs uproariously]! They were so game that we were able to go to pretty deep places fast. Jumping into any world with [Soloway] creatively is my happy place. I love the juicy, hilarious soap opera between these three people, and then the reverbs of this one woman’s actions throughout the whole town. Marfa is an extraordinary place.

What was it like when you first met Soloway? You’ve been working together for a long time now.
I went to school on the East Coast, and all I wanted to do was the stage. And I didn’t think it was possible to find that kind of creative world [outside of the theater], before landing with Jill on this small movie called Afternoon Delight. There were pockets of true creativity before that—like working with the Duplass brothers—but it wasn’t until Afternoon Delight that I thought oh, it’s amazing to actually be home. We lived two seconds away from each other in Silver Lake at that point.

kathryn hahn

How long have you been in LA now?
I think since 2001? A long chunk. It took a long time to actually come to terms with the fact that I was living in Los Angeles. My then-boyfriend, now-husband and I had a storage locker in Brooklyn, and then finally decided to move all of our crap across the country. And it was amazing to see what we had deemed savable; it was like a time capsule. A huge salad spinner I’d bought with my first paycheck. And a microwave with a roach in it—just so much shit.

What’s your stance on sunscreen?
I’m from German/Irish stock and this [gestures to her face]: freckles. I put on sunscreen religiously. And the older I’ve gotten, the more I’m into hats and being pale. I used to hate putting on a bathing suit and would call my legs fetal-chick-egg blue, you know like really pale blue. But now I’m into it. Swim shirts, I haven’t done those yet. I grew up in Ohio, and it’s horrible, but we literally used to put on Crisco and lay on foil. I mean I would blister! That’s terrifying.

Do you have much of a relationship with makeup?
I have concealer and lip balm, and I’ve been getting really into tinted sunscreen. But that’s it. I brush my brows. I tweeze the occasional goat hair. And there’s very little makeup for both Dick and Transparent. The idea of getting ready is very interesting, gender-wise. Like, getting ready to go and face the world. It’s an interesting concept. The phrase of “getting ready”. But because I rarely do it, it’s not a pain at all. High heels are though. Much to everyone’s chagrin, I usually keep Birkenstocks on my person for some point in the evening.

What’s your pre-game beverage?
I vacillate between something called a Ranch Water, which is sparkling water, usually Topo Chico, tequila and a ton of fresh lime. And it’s in a high glass, so it’s a little watered down and not sweet. And I love a Moscow Mule. I really wouldn’t mind a Ranch Water, you guys! They just know it in Texas. Who wants one?

What would be your ideal going out soundtrack?
Oh, I mean it changes depending on my mood, but I don’t mind a little New Order blasting. Or some Tribe Called Quest! I don’t know, sometimes you’re mellow and want First Aid Kit, and sometimes you want some Bonnie Tyler! “Holding Out for a Hero.” That was an amazing song! From the beginning, she comes out of the gate screaming. I feel like that’s also in the Footloose song, which brings us back six degrees to Kevin Bacon.

“I wanted Kathryn to have really healthy, glow-y skin. Her skin is naturally great and I wanted to enhance that a little bit. Her dress had lots of red and pink, and her eyes are so blue, so I decided to use shimmery pink shadows from Chanel Les 4 Ombres in Demure. And then we added a pop of a lip, using the La Mer Lip Balm and the Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Muted Rosy Pink. And those are all her own lashes by the way! I just applied a few swipes of MAC Extreme Dimension Lash mascara. That and Covergirl LashBlast are two of my favorites right now. To prep the skin, I used a bit of the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream, followed by NARS concealer on the T-Zone.” – KAYLEEN MCADAMS

“We always like a lot of texture, and like, a French look. We love Parisian street style, and we pictured Kathryn walking down the streets of Paris. Messy and not done. She woke up like that. We love Caroline de Maigret—every single time we do hair, we want to be her. You know what, it’s all about the round brush. I use a round brush to do almost a dread-y look, and then use tons of texture spray. I’m obsessed with Davines' Beach Spray because it doesn’t get crunchy. We cut Kathryn's bangs for I Love Dick. She hadn’t had bangs since she was 19 years-old, and then we found our French icon [in de Maigret]. Kathryn always wears her bangs textured and messy, and we’ve kept them ever since I Love Dick—the messier, the better!” – MARILEE ALBIN