Colleen Atwood Q&A: ‘Into the Woods’ costume designer
"I try to design costumes that say who they are in some ways, like Rapunzel in bondage, the witch having this inner fantasy of herself,” says costume designer Colleen Atwood in a new podcast with Gold Derby (listen below). "We all have that in us, but we also have a lot of other things. So in trying to connect that with people, they associate with the characters which helps them kind of have fun with the story."
Atwood has created a variety of dazzling pieces for the new Rob Marshall film "Into the Woods." Everything from a witch’s cloak to a wolf’s zoot suit to a world of fairy tale character outfits are included. Yet despite the fantastical nature of the film, the veteran costumer tried to keep her designs based in reality. She says, "If you’re doing a fantasy like this… people have to see themselves in it in a way. It’s a tricky piece of work because it’s fantasy but it always comes back (to reality)."
She adds that her elaborate costumes actually needed to be grounded in naturalism. It was all about understanding who the characters were and how that could be expressed through clothing. Characters include Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Witch (Meryl Streep), Baker (James Corden), Baker's Wife (Emily Blunt), and Wolf (Johnny Depp).
She also sings the praises of her director Marshall, with whom she’s collaborated three previous times: "Chicago," "Memoirs of a Geisha," and "Nine." Atwood says, "I’ve always had a really great connection with Rob from the first time I met him, because he’s somebody that says he’s going to do something a certain way and he does it the way he says he’s going to do it. He plans it, he includes you in the process. We talk about… the journey that a costume makes in a movie, and he really understands that."
Atwood has already won two Oscars for those collaborations ("Chicago" and "Geisha") and another for "Alice in Wonderland." She has received seven other nominations for "Little Women," "Beloved," "Sleepy Hollow," "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," "Nine," and "Snow White and the Huntsman."