There’s a first time for everything.
Just ask FX makeup design and makeup effects design chief Gail Kennedy, who was tasked with creating fake nipple rings for Jon Hamm’sshady, Bible-thumping Sheriff Roy Tillman, who rules over his North Dakota roost through fear and loathing in Season 5 of “Fargo.”
But Kennedy, who’s worked on four seasons of the FX anthology series, said she wasn’t as surprised by the odd request as you might expect.
“Every year I say to [series creator] Noah Hawley, ‘Write me a challenge,’ and he does come through for me,” Kennedy told The Post. “And this season there were several challenges in the makeup room.”
Among those was creating Sheriff Roy’s nipple rings, first seen by viewers as he lies “in moist repose” in an outdoor hot tub on his ranch (he’s connected to a local militia) and then again when he’s bare-chested and in bed with his wife. He doesn’t reference them, nor do the other characters, but they’re there for a reason.Sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm) — and his nipple rings — soak in his outdoor hot tub on his ranch in Episode 2. FX
“We live in ‘Tiger King’ America … there’s a hedonism to the Christian Right that is unexpected, let’s just put it that way,” Hawley told the Hollywood Reporter. “And I thought it would dimensionalize Jon more than he’s just some sheriff who thumps the Bible.”
“It’s to bend the stereotype a little bit,” Kennedy said. “It creates a more interesting character and a bit of [Roy’s] quirkier side that is going to come out and develop” as the series progresses.The Bible-thumping sheriff is usually up to no good as he rules over his North Dakota fiefdom. FX
Kennedy said she had never been asked to create this sort of prosthetic throughout her long career.
“It’s like any other prosthetic,” she said. “We had four special effects houses working on the show and the one that did the nipple rings is here in Calgary [Alberta, where much of Season 5 was filmed].
“It was pretty straightforward; a prosthetics builder came into the trailer and cast Jon’s chest, his real nipples, then proceeded to make a mold and sculpt fake ones — big enough to hold a ring but not look ridiculous.
“You can buy spring-loaded ones but those kind of pinch and that would hurt [the actor] and not stay on as well,” she explained. “I think that was what we were after — making sure they did not impede shooting or cause any delays.”
Kennedy said Hamm’s time in the makeup chair to have the nipple rings applied was “relatively quick,” about 20 minutes, compared to the three hours in makeup it took to create the iterations of Sam Spruell’s character, Ole Munch, who is also seen in a flashback in Wales in the year 1522.Sheriff Roy (right) and his ne’er-do-well son, Gator (Joe Keery), a deputy sheriff who can’t seem to do anything right. FX
“We had [the nipples, created by Stacy Wegner,] all pre-painted and pre-prepped and I made sure to insert little chest hairs into the piece so it blended with Jon’s own,” Kennedy said. “I shaved him a little bit and glued them on and there they were … Jon and I did joke about how people would think they were real.”
Hamm, at a screening in Los Angeles of the Season 5 premiere, referred to the “dedicated nippleologist” who fashioned the prosthetics.
He was joking — there is no such word in the special effects vernacular — but “I thought I should put that on my résumé as a new skill,” Kennedy said, tongue planted firmly in cheek.