Costume designer Daniel Orlandi tells us during our recent chat (listen below) that working on a biopic like “Trumbo” means diving into stacks of books first. “I like to read as much as possible especially when you’re doing a movie that’s dealing with real people that lived. I owe it to those people to be as truthful as possible within the confines of the script.” Then, he continues, “I like to work with my actors organically and see what feels right.”
He says he found the perfect collaborator in Bryan Cranston, who plays blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. “He already knew so much about him before he even signed on. So our first meeting, we had a bunch of prototypes that we tried on while we were taking measurements, just seeing what felt right.”
“We wanted to really show his character arc. At the beginning, he’s at the top of the world, one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, hobnobbing with the elite. We gave him this white dinner jacket in this group of men in black tuxedos and ladies in beautiful evening gowns. Then we see him struggle. After prison, his clothes get a little darker and more serious, until the end again when he’s feeling more successful and toying with the press. His clothes get a little more flamboyant again.”
An admitted communist during the Red Scare, Trumbo was criticized for his glamorous Hollywood lifestyle while advocating for socialist ideals. Says Orlandi, “You can live a good life, but you can still stand for the things that you believe. I think that they can work together. He was willing to risk it all, and his family suffered as well. He lost everything but then built himself back up, never really compromising.”
Orlandi won an Emmy for “The Magic of David Copperfield XI: The Explosive Encounter” (1989) and was nominated for “The Normal Heart” (2014). Listen to our full interview below.
Photo: “Trumbo.” Credit: Bleecker Street