Middletown Barber Keeps Quiet About Her 'Moonrise Kingdom' Role – Until Now

Middletown’s Esquire Barber Shop plays a leading role cutting the hair of Ed Norton, Bill Murray and others.

Now that Wes Anderson’s filming of “” is wrapping up this week, local barber Shelly Bowen Shough of can now reveal the supporting role she played during the filming of the 1960s period film.

Shough recreated those crisp, precision cuts and razor straight parts and tight waves held down by Brylcreem that have defined the look of men’s and boys’ haircuts from the 1960s. ("A little dab will do ya!")

Her clientele in recent months has included Anderson’s lead actors, Bill Murray and Ed Norton, along with several of the child actors who played Boy Scouts. Murray came in once, while Norton visited four times.

“I was bursting to tell,” Shough said Friday at her Rockwood Road barbershop, located just off West Main Road near the Coddington Highway intersection, about a quarter-mile from the film’s main production office at the old JFK Elementary School.

“But you can’t do that to the actors. There would have been people lining up at the windows the whole time I’d be cutting their hair,” Shough explained of the secret she’d kept these last few months. She later added, “And they seemed to really like coming here. It's quiet and relaxing here.”

The Audition

How did she make the final cut?

A few months before filming began, Jeremy Dawson, one of the film producers, came into her shop for a haircut and he began telling her about a movie he would be making in town this spring.

“I didn’t think anything of it. I figured it would be some sort of small independent thing. Little did I know,” Shough laughed. “I didn’t know I was being scouted!”

When she was later contacted by the producers and the film’s lead stylist, she initially was hired to work with the young actors.

Model photographs of 1960s-style haircuts were sent to her to replicate.

Ed Norton

Shough had been cutting the child actors’ hair when the film’s stylist one day sent her a text message saying 'Ed' was coming in.

“I just thought it was another kid named Ed, but then Ed Norton walked in!” Shough said.

She was a bit nervous working with him the first time, but when he kept returning, they developed a rapport she typically has with all her customers, she said.

“He’d walk in and I’d say, ‘Oh hey, Ed. Have a seat and I'll be right with you.’ And the other customers would say that it seemed like we were good friends,” she said.

Toward the end of the production, Norton needed a blow dryer one day and asked to borrow hers.

“I said he could so long as he signed it when he returned it,” she laughed.

Norton did just that.

Working with Wes

When Shough cut the actors’ hair, the film production’s lead stylist and a photographer would accompany them to the shop. The stylist gave the initial direction, while the photographer took photos of the finished haircut.

“He would then upload the photos and send them over to Wes Anderson to look at, and he’d give the final OK or he'd give more direction, like ‘a little more off there’ or the part had to be so exact and perfectly straight,” Shough said.

That’s a Wrap

Shough was informed the production office would wrap the production June 28.

Photos of all the actors and a blow dryer signed by Norton are now included among the assortment of Red Sox and Bruins memorabilia and other vintage décor and pieces of Americana found throughout the barber shop.

But Shough’s most prized keepsake is yet to come — a film credit to be included when the film is released. One father of a child actor has pledged to send her an autographed DVD once it comes out, she said.


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