90th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: COSTUME DESIGN

SPEECH BY: Mark Bridges


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Q. I know you're a frequent collaborator with Paul Thomas Anderson. 
A. Yeah.

Q. So, I'm curious.  When he reached out to you about this movie, how excited were you to work on a picture where you get to do this sort of couture and also the more contemp‑ ‑‑ well, not contemporary, but sort of traditional clothing as well?
A. Right.  Well, I always am excited when Paul calls because, as you know, over 22 years we've done everything from porn stars, to oil drilling, to hippie detectives.  You know, so this is just another one of the bag of tricks that Paul has.  But, you know, you feel like there's ‑‑ there is a little bit of a pressure.  You know, will I be able to do justice to the era, and, of course, working with Daniel, you up your game.  And Paul always ‑‑ and Daniel ‑‑ always makes me be a better designer.  You know, so I proceeded with the research the way we always do and just try to tell a story.  And then we ‑‑ of course, we had the luxury of working in London, too, where there are makers and fabrics and access to Europe that we don't have here.

Q. So, but what is it like to design costumes for a film that is, in a sense, partly about the act of designing costumes?  How was that different?
A. It was ‑‑ it was a little different than I usually do, and it was kind of two levels.  One of it is:  Tell the story of the real people.  And then when we had to do a fashion show or the fashions of Reynolds Woodcock, I had to go into another mindset of, you know, what would this man be like?  Paul said, Oh, can we have a spring fashion show?  Can the fashion show be spring?  And I'm thinking, like, hmm, a dark character, like Reynolds in London, who uses rich colors and sort of dark fabrics.  What would a spring collection be for him?  So I had to get into the mindset of somebody else.  It was ‑‑ it was different and challenging, in a cool way, for me.

Q. Something that I hear a lot in common with costume designers and their relationships with actors is that they discover their character from the bottom up once ‑‑
A. Yeah.

Q. ‑‑ they get in the shoes, they know who they are.  Can you share with us some kind of ‑‑ some instance ‑‑
A. It's actually really, really true.  I don't know whether it's because I started in theater.  Theater actors are very much like that.  If their shoes work and make them move a certain way, then the rest is ‑‑ rest follows.  And certainly working with Daniel Day‑Lewis, both on THERE WILL BE BLOOD and this one, his shoes were very important to him, and a ‑‑ it's a way ‑‑ it makes you walk in a certain way or carry yourself in a different way that then sort of feeds up into the rest of the physicality of the role, is what I discover, and helps them become who they need to become.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about collaborating with Daniel Day‑Lewis, especially as his character actually had to drape a gown in the movie?
A. Well, you know, Daniel did an amazing amount of homework.  He's the consummate artist preparing.  I hooked him up with a cutter in New York, and he studied, and actually made a ‑‑ quite a nice garment at the end of his tenure there. 

Collaborating with him, you know, he had a lot of ideas about what this man should be like.  You know, his idea was to go to Anderson Sheppard, Savile Row, to have his clothes tailored, and he knows this world very well.  He grew up with it.  His father had bespoke clothes, his grandfather.  So it was ‑‑ it was a learning experience for me, but we worked together.  We went shopping together, actually, on German Street in London, which was amazing.  And ‑‑ but I was always there and collaborating about, like, I know I need this many suits to be able to make this costume plot.  But he did not want to plan ahead what he was going to wear, so we created a closet for him, and Paul wanted him to choose daily what he would pull from his closet and wear it. 

So that was ‑‑ that was a new one on me, a little nerve‑wracking at first.  But we all trust each other so much at this point that ‑‑ and the fact that I had been in on creating that wardrobe, I was fine with it.  And I think as long as Paul felt we were feeding Daniel nourishment for his character, it was fine, and that's why I'm there too, to help aid that performance.



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