When Sadie Sink pops up on my Zoom screen, she looks so different. It's her hair, which, up to this point, has always been three things: long, red, and wavy. It's been cemented in my brain since I watched Sink's performance in the short film that accompanied Taylor Swift’s song "All Too Well" (at least 70 times). But this summer, the auburn waves are gone. The actor is wearing a denim blue button up and her hair is chopped short, the flipped ends sat just above her shoulders.
Ahead, we talked to Sink about the specifics of her new haircut and how it's changed her whole vibe entering into adulthood, as well as her most recent projects (if you haven't seen The Whale, I highly recommend it), and the surprising makeup trend she finds really cool. Sink only keeps one thing a secret. Let's just say, you won't find out what she smells like...
The following interview was told to Megan Decker and has been edited for length and clarity.
I love your haircut!
Tell me, why did you cut your hair? Was it for a role or for yourself?
It was for a role. It felt right for the character. I never really thought about cutting my hair in my own life. It never crossed my mind to do something like that. But once it happened, I felt very empowered by it. Everyone knows me with long hair. It was always such a talking point; my hair was a very defining feature for me. So to get rid of that — especially just turning 21 and stepping into adulthood — that big change felt really exciting. It was right for the character, but also right for where I [am] in my own life. It feels more like me. It's also hot as hell right now, so it's nice to have a foot of hair off.
It's very cool. How are you styling this cut and do you have any good product recommendations?
My hair is very full. The waves that I've worn in the past, that's just how my hair is naturally. So having my hair shorter has been an adjustment. My brother was telling me that I look like [children's book character] Junie B. Jones, because at the beginning it was pouffing. But now I know how to handle it.
It's interesting because after I cut it I immediately went to set for this project and the hairstylists had this blend of products they'd use to get this slicked-back look. In my everyday life, if I'm being 100% honest, I usually put nothing on it — maybe a headband — and that's about it. I've just been using regular, hard, thick headbands. But that wasn't something I was able to do with long hair because it didn't work. With the shorter cut it does.
You were speaking about how your hair has been an identifier. Have you always loved your natural red colour? It's very unique but sometimes that can be hard when you're growing up.
For sure. Four out of the five kids in my family have red hair, so I felt like I saw it in others in my life. But in school, I was pretty much the only girl with red hair. Having anything different makes you more aware of it. There were certainly times where I wasn't sure that I liked having red hair. But now it's a signature. I can't imagine it with anything different.
It's funny because adults are always complimenting it, right?
Throughout my whole life, adults always complimented my hair colour. Like, "People pay big money for this colour." But the kids in school thought much differently and would never say anything like that. It would kind of be a teasing point.
I also wanted to talk to you about your experience on The Whale — such an intense film. Obviously there were a lot of prosthetics used on set for your co-star Brendan Frasier's character. What was the hair and makeup vision for your character, Ellie?
The hair and makeup process was so thoughtful. With a character like Ellie, there's an urge to lean into the angsty, troubled teen trope with heavy eyeliner to make her look edgy. But it was done in a really tasteful way. It would be a little bit of eyeliner that looked like it had been left on for several days. They put dirt under my fingernails. They would flush out my cheeks, putting this red colour on them. Red plays a big role in her storyline. When Ellie enters, there's always something red — with the face, the hair, the clothing — and there's a bit of warmth that's being added into Charlie's life. That was such a nice detail.
With the hair, I would mostly do it myself. When we were doing fittings and trying to figure out what the hair would be like, we were playing around with different styles. I would throw it up in a bun and it would look like I did it myself and that worked.
Have you ever used fragrance or scent to get into a role? I know many actors use it as a tool. For example, Margot Robbie has talked about wearing a perfume that smells like Barbie.
I heard Cate Blanchett talking about this, using scents for character. That was never something that I've thought of, but I see how that would add an element to the hair, makeup, and costuming that would get you into that mindset. Maybe on my next project, season five of Stranger Things...Max needs a scent!
It sounds like a fun, creative project to find Max a scent.
Yeah. What did people wear in the '80s?
I bet your hair and makeup team could help you out. Do you wear a fragrance in your everyday life?
Yes. Recently I've nailed it down and I'll try to stick with one fragrance and ride it out as long as I want to. It's nice to have a signature scent. I think that's cool and powerful and it leaves an impression.
So, what are you wearing now?
Right now it's actually a blend of two things, but I'm not going to say.
Keeping it a mystery. What about your getting-ready routine otherwise? What does your morning skincare and makeup routine look like?
With beauty, it's always been the same for me. It's not much, maybe a concealer or a brow brush and that's kind of the extent of it because that's all I know how to do. I'm lucky that when I need to wear makeup, it's done by the pros. But in my own life, it's very minimal.
You mentioned concealer as well. Is there a specific concealer you like?
Right now it's an Armani one — they're really good. I'll use the lightest shade I can find. I don't like, put it all under my eyes. I just use it as I need it, where I need it, if I need it.
You've done a lot of great red lipstick looks as well — I'm thinking about that one scene in the "All Too Well" music video. What's your favourite red lipstick?
It's whatever the makeup artist uses. I typically like more of a true red as opposed to an orange-ish one. Maybe because of the hair, it clashes. A true red works best on me. But my favourite beauty looks — which I want to start doing more of — is a clean eye, nothing on it, and then a statement lip. That's something I want to play with, not wearing mascara. I think there's something really cool about blonde or light lashes paired with something more intense on the lips.
I love that! With all of your time on set on Stranger Things, what's the best makeup tip you've learned?
For Stranger Things, there's no makeup, it's really just dirt [laughs]. But one thing I learned on a set — and I'm so late to this, probably because I've never played with eyeliner and don't know how to do it — but on my last set, the makeup artist put the eyeliner just on the waterline so you can't even tell that it's there. It brings out a little bit of definition. I think everyone knew this but me, but I feel like it's this mind-blowing trick.
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