“It was so evident from the script that the tone was going to be something quite different,” says “The Favourite” production designer Fiona Crombie. “It wasn’t your classic biopic or anything like that. It was immediately playful, immediately anachronistic,” which allowed for “a freedom” when it came to designing the lavish sets. Watch our exclusive video interview with Crombie above.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, this Fox Searchlight release takes place in 18th century England, where a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne while her loyal advisor, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), governs the country. But a new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone), arrives and immediately charms the Queen, much to Sarah’s consternation.
In her research, Crombie found “a series of architectural drawings that were actually of Hampton Court and some of the locations” portrayed in the film. “They were basically these fantastic, very simple line drawings with watercolor” that showed “how lightly dressed and empty the rooms really were at that time, and also the scale.” She adds, “The idea of having figures rattling around in those vast spaces just felt right.”
Bucking tradition, Crombie “didn’t really look at anything that was period correct at all, because I have no idea. I don’t have a great historical architectural knowledge, so I knew that would come later. It was more about what was resonating just as an impulse.”
Crombie recently received a BAFTA nomination for her work, one of 12 bids the film received including Best Picture. She also competes at the Art Directors Guild and Critics’ Choice Awards. She has additionally worked on the films “Macbeth” (2015) and “Truth” (2015), as well as the TV program “Top of the Lake.”
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