(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
She’s so pretty in the beginning of the video when Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift start singing about how the “Highway Don’t Care.” This girl is crying her eyes out, driving down a winding road and then, tragically, texting. So of course her dewy, tear-stained cheeks turn into full-blown lacerations and severe head trauma right after the accident. But how that all happened behind the scenes was no accident.
Tarryn Feldman, the makeup artist for the victim, used all of her education in special effects makeup to make sure the girl looked realistically hurt at the scene and then at the hospital when McGraw meets her on the helipad on top of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“I got to sit down with the doctors at Vanderbilt to talk about what the bruising would look like at first. So on the first day, we shot the initial crash when the girl wasn’t as puffy or darkly bruised. She’s just got new blood and sweat,” Feldman explained. “Then the doctors showed me pictures of people they’d treated who’d just been in car accidents. About two hours after a crash the patient’s eyes were huge and black and swollen shut.” That is exactly how Feldman made the victim’s face up for the helipad scene.
But McGraw wasn’t just playing the doctor. He was involved in the whole shoot, Feldman said.
“He’s always really sweet and so involved in everything,” she told me. “It’s very country for him to do that because it’s not always like that in other genres. Tim was genuinely interested. Especially because this video has such an important message.”