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On Set with... Debbie Zoller

by Alice Lennon
On Set with... Debbie Zoller

Make-up artist Debbie Zoller has helped create memorable looks on such award winning shows as Mad Men, Nip/Tuck, The Tick, Castle, and Kingdom and has been nominated for no less than eight Primetime Emmys for her outstanding work.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Debbie, who even popped into the Armoury to grab products whilst working on her newest, film Nasty Women (personal to the hilarious Rebel Wilson). 

When did you know you wanted to become a makeup artist?

My dad and I used to sit and draw together when I was very young. He always made me be precise and colour inside the lines. Growing up, I was always doing some kind of art project, whether it was painting the walls in my bedroom or people’s faces at summer camp. It wasn’t until I got into college and volunteered to do makeup for the theatre department that I realised being a makeup artist was an actual job. After graduating, I thought I wanted to go in to fashion/textile design, but makeup kept calling me back. And the pursuit began immediately.....

2.      Which 5 items could you not live without in your makeup kit?

3.      Which iconic makeup / sfx look do you admire? And why?

I've been a huge fan of Michael Westmore's work for years. His work on Raging Bull, The Mask and all the Star Trek films and television series is tremendous. I also love the characters that Ve Neill created for Ed Wood and Pirates of the Caribbean. Tim Curry as Darkness in Legend and every character in Death Becomes her… I love being able to combine period makeups with prosthetics. It’s my happy place!

Pirates of the Caribbean Debbie Zoller

 Mushroom Man from Pirates of the Carribean 2 with Steve Anderson


4.      What is your top tip for starting out in the industry?

Be kind and willing to learn and work hard. Have integrity. Fear will steer you on to the wrong path.

Debbie Zoller Greg Zaragoza-indented scar-North and South 3
Greg Zaragoza indented scar for North and South 


5.      What is your life mantra?

"Coffee in one hand, confidence in the other"


Debbie Zoller Mad Men

Debbie performing checks whilst on set of Mad Men


6.      What do you feel is your greatest achievement to date?

Oh, wow.......That’s a tough one. I actually had to call and ask someone else what they thought was my greatest achievement, because it’s impossible for me to judge. My friend asked what I'm most proud of; I loved the looks I created for Mad Men and the Super Heroes for The Tick, but working for David Lynch for over 20 years is probably what I'm most proud of. Lost Highway was my first film with him. It holds a special place in my heart. And now Twin Peaks, The Return - you haven’t seen anything yet! It’s like painting with my dad all over again.

Debbie Zoller Twin Peaks

Disheveled woodsmen from the 2017 series of Twin Peaks 


7.      What’s your favourite film and why?

I love films with heart such as Poseidon Adventure, Defending Your Life, and Young Frankenstein. They are all my favourites!!!

Debbie Zoller Mad Men


8.      If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

I would love to go back to the Macedonian Greek Dynasty, when Cleopatra ruled Egypt.

Debbie Zoller Mad Men
January Jones on the set of Mad Men 


9.      What were you doing this time yesterday?

Getting my eyesight tested so I can keep up with my career! HA! 


 If you would like to read more about Debbie's extensive career check out the links below - 

Debbie Zoller Makeup Artist