EXCLUSIVE: ‘Hunger Games’ Hair Colorist on Peeta, Caesar, Octavia & More

We’ve seen a lot of interviews recently with the folks involved in creating the awesome hairstyles in The Hunger Games, but we noticed they all discussed Katniss’s braid, Effie’s wigs, and the crazy styles of the Capitol citizens …

What about Peeta’s much-anticipated blonde locks? And the shockingly blue hair Caesar Flickerman sports in the trailer? And we’ve heard and seen nothing about the prep team! Plus, one of our admins has been dying to know if she can duplicate Katniss’s gorgeous brown hair?

So we went to the source and spoke with the woman tapped to create The Hunger Games hair colors – Joico colorist Cherry Petenbrink (who most recently talked to Instyle.com about Jennifer Lawrence’s hair color at the Oscar announcement ceremony). Check out our exclusive Q&A with Cherry to find out the answers!


Q: Was there pressure working on Josh Hutcherson’s hair for Peeta since many fans were upset that a brunette was cast instead of a blonde? 

Cherry: As soon as I met Josh at my Studio I knew he was perfect for the role of Peeta. Charming and charismatic! One problem, Peeta was described in the books as a sandy blonde while Josh was a dark brunette. I definitely had my work cut out!

Q: Was it a difficult process to get the right shade of blonde, and how did you determine how light to go? 

Cherry: It was clear based on the vision of Director Gary Ross his hair could NOT be yellow or orange. I decolorized in two separate visits, didn’t want to alert paparazzi either. The goal was to achieve sandy ash blonde and not trash his hair. Joico Creme Lightener has extra emollients and conditioners to guarantee lift, tone and amazing condition. His hair required retouching and toning every 8 weeks.

Q: After all that work, do you think you ended up with the right color?

Cherry: Everyone was thrilled with the end result. I did return Josh to his natural color when The Hunger Games wrapped.


Q: What led you to create the blue ponytail for Stanley Tucci’s character? It’s a beautiful color!

Cherry: The only role I played in Stanley’s wig/look was to add highs and lows with Joico Vero K-PAK chrome guaranteed to keep the human hair wig in amazing condition. The goal was to create a more dimensional blue versus one overwhelming tone of blue. It was a very expensive custom made wig. This was the most stressful of all the color work I did, no room for error.

Q: Were you involved in the decision to create the much-loved Seneca Crane beard we see a glimpse of in the trailer?

Cherry: I had nothing to do with that amazing beard. That was the Make-up Dept.

Q: Did you have a favorite color/character to work on in The Hunger Games?

Cherry: Effie’s wig colors were spectacular, however the prep team stylists were the most fun. With not a lot of direction there was much more creative freedom with color. Octavia’s hair especially, with magenta hair and purple achieved with pink and indigo Joico Semi permanent Intensity color.

Q: Are all of the colors you used in the movie available to consumers or at salons? (One of our admins wants Jennifer’s Katniss hair color!)

Cherry: All of the hair color I used is professional only and available at Joico Salons – visit Joico.com for a salon locator to find salons who offer our amazing color and products. Jen’s hair is a Natural level 5 (5N) Vero K-PAK color. Effie’s colors can be recreated with Joico semi permanent INTENSITY COLORS clear with a drop of desired shade to create pastel. If intense vibrant colors (The Capitol) is what you’re looking for, don’t dilute with clear.

Thanks so much to Cherry for answering our questions! We loved learning about the process of making Josh a blonde, Stanley’s expensive wig, and Octavia’s magenta hair!