We recently had the opportunity to speak with Alex Noble! He swung by our LA campus in Burbank to tell students about his career thus far. From “Desperate Housewives” to “Fear the Walking Dead,” Alex certainly had a lot of wisdom to share!
MUD: What was your first big break?
Alex: My first big break was coming out to Los Angeles. Because that was a hurdle that I had worked hard to overcome. I was in Cincinnati, Ohio at the time. Getting into the Union was also a really a big break for me. Movie-wise though? That’s a tough one. There was a movie I worked on that has a $1.3 million budget. I got in on a recommendation from a friend of mine already working on it. They took a chance on me. I was co-department heading with another artist. It was called Forbidden Warrior. Yeah you’ll never see it.
MUD: What’s the best way for somebody to ask if they can assist you?
Alex: Erin Krueger Mekash had a fantastic one. Don’t ask if you can clean my brushes. If you want to assist me, I want to know how good of a make-up artist you are and not how good of a brush cleaner you are.
MUD: Talk about your work on “Desperate Housewives.”
Alex: I did a movie many years ago called “Without Men.” It starred Eva Longoria among others. I was department head so I did Eva’s make up. She looks at me one day and she says “Have you ever thought about coming on Desperate Housewives?” I said, “I’d love to, but I don’t think they would touch me.” She’s like “Why not?” I replied, “Because no one knows I do beauty make-up.” Keep in mind, at this time I was doing “Terminator” make-up. I was doing a lot of effects-based make-up for independent movies like “I Am Number Four.” She looks at me and says, “Well you’ve been doing my make up for about 18 days and I think I’m a pretty good reference.” I loved her for that. I told her “I appreciate the opportunity, but I don’t want to replace anybody or make any ripples in the water at all. If you’re willing to do this then I want an opportunity to prove myself.” She said “Done!” Four months later, I was on the show and I didn’t replace anyone or ripple any waters. I became their regular addition for the next two seasons and I didn’t do a touch of effects make-up.
I can tell you right off the bat it scared the hell out of me. Here I am, new kid on the block and I’m working on the glamour show of the decade. I’m confident in my beauty make-up, but my confidence means nothing if the people that hired me aren’t confident. So that was the big concern. I like to do natural look. I don’t like to do glamour or high fashion. It really pushed me personally and professionally to go outside my comfort zone and boundaries. While I never had to do high fashion make-up, I did have to do high-end make-ups.
MUD: How much pressure was there on “Desperate Housewives” to make sure everyone looked amazing?
Alex: There wasn’t that much pressure because all of the pressure on the make-up was being directed to the five girls. As long as they were flawless, everyone else was okay. (Not that I could slack off!) Yes, I was there for two seasons, but at no point in time did I ever think I was safe. Because of that, I continued to be on top of my game. I’d always think, “Okay this will keep me on the show or I’ll get fired.” That was every day.
I never thought I would be on that show. It was the kindness of Eva and my abilities as a make-up artist that allowed that to happen. Every aspect of the show was magical.
MUD: Talk about working on “Fear the Walking Dead.”
Alex: Again, it’s magical to be a part of the Walking Dead family. It can be difficult, but it’s like I asked my dad, “Was it hard to get that good?” He said, “It took work, but it was it hard? No, because I love it.” Is it tedious? Yes! You can be in the trailer for five hours doing make-ups with nothing but airbrush or prosthetics and airbrush.
MUD: Do you prefer to work in TV or film?
Alex: I prefer working on either film or television. I like film because you are able to establish a family, a bond and it’s almost like summer camp. Whereas TV, you still have families and bonds but it’s more like a school year. I’ve never department headed a TV show so I don’t know what that’s like. I know plenty that have and they enjoy it. It’s a steady paycheck and they love what they do.
MUD: What is your favorite make-up you’ve ever done?
Alex: There’s three favorite make-ups. What I’m working on now, which is “Fear the Walking Dead” because that’s a dream come true for me. My favorite project was “Desperate Housewives” because that’s an amazing experience with amazing people. It was an incredibly well-oiled machine. And lastly, “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles” because that fulfilled a bucket list in the sense that I always wanted to work on a Terminator Series.
MUD: What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Alex: My uncle had the best advice. “Don’t ever consider a long term relationship with someone you wouldn’t consider being a business partner with. If you trust them with your business, you can trust them with your heart.” If I can’t trust someone personally, then I can’t trust someone professionally. If I can’t trust them professionally, I sure don’t trust them personally. Nobody can accuse me of being a liar, cheater or thief. Honesty is so important to me because I want people to be honest with me. If I do something wrong, tell me. But if you don’t tell me, I don’t know how it’s gone wrong.
I do believe that you get what you deserve. Every decision you’ve ever made in your entire life has led you to be where you are right now. It’s decision making. That’s one of the truths that people don’t really like to hear especially when they fall on hard times. Look, I‘ve been on hard times, guess what? I caused it! Every decision I made.
There’s no point in looking back and saying “What if?” What you do now from this moment forward will affect the rest of your life. Every decision you make now affects every other decision. So make the right decision.
MUD: Where would you want the career to go next?
Alex: Oh god, to walk on stage at the Kodak Theater. I would like to do a war epic. I’d like to something like “Saving Private Ryan” or the Iraq war. I like doing dirt and blood and bringing light to situations if it helps the troops. I may not support why we’re doing what we’re doing, but I sure support the people doing it.