For Meg Bellamy, the 21-year-old British actor who plays the young Kate Middleton in the sixth and final series of The Crown, a head of long, “liquid brunette” locks was an essential part of the costume.
So it may come as some surprise that industry insiders are predicting Bellamy will chop off her glossy Kate haircut as soon as The Crown’s publicity tour is over.
There’s a very good reason to do it: a transformational haircut has become a tried and tested strategy to ensure that a newcomer doesn’t spend the rest of their acting career being typecast, associated forever with their breakout role.
“It is so easy to get typecast,” says British celebrity stylist Kyle De’Volle, who works with Lily Allen and Rita Ora. “So [a haircut] is like a total rebrand, a clean slate for her as an actress. Obviously, she’ll have The Crown under her belt but I’m sure she’s going to want to do more diverse roles. We work in a very fickle industry and I think that unless people see the change, they will just put you in a box.”
This particular strategy from the style playbook was most famously established by Emma Watson, who went for a pixie cut as soon as she was done playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films. More recently, Daisy Edgar-Jones, whose breakout status came from her portrayal of Marianne in Normal People, turned to celebrity hair stylist George Northwood for a choppy new bob last year. Emma Corrin, who was propelled to stardom as the young Diana in The Crown, used hair to prove their versatility, trying out a series of bold looks including peroxide curtains and a buzz cut. Then there’s Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor, Twilight’s Kristen Stewart … the list goes on.
A haircut is just one tool a rising star can use as they introduce their personal style to a new-found audience. It is also an indicator of the way their world has been transformed, often in a short space of time, from regular citizen to recognisable celebrity.
Before she became famous, Bellamy’s wardrobe mostly consisted of chain-store buys from H&M. Now she is being courted by luxury fashion houses, with brands falling over themselves to dress The Crown’s latest star.
Bellamy has not, as one UK tabloid report suggested, “beaten the Duchess of Sussex to become a face of Dior”. She did attend the Parisian label’s haute couture show in July and ready-to-wear show in September, sitting in the front row as what Dior describes as “a friend of the house”, but no deal as an ambassador has been confirmed.