Melissa Toth‘s first foray into television proved to be a fortuitous one. The costume designer, whose work has been seen in films such as “Manchester by the Sea” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” scored her first Emmy nomination for Best Period Costumes for FX’s “Fosse/Verdon.” But as Toth admits in our exclusive video interview (watch above), the transition wasn’t easy. “The first thing I did was I decided that I would just hang onto my ass as much as possible because I was pretty terrified going into it,” she says.
Toth’s Emmy submission, “Life Is a Cabaret,” provided her with some of her biggest challenges. Not only was this the premiere episode of the series, but it prominently featured classic numbers from Fosse’s film versions of “Sweet Charity” and “Cabaret.” “We needed to get those right,” Toth says. “We worked very tirelessly to get those background numbers and everybody looking amazing.”
Toth admits that the hardships of costuming this period drama about the relationship between Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon were tempered by assembling a diverse team that could pull off the various elements required in the costumes. “I made sure to put together a team of people where we had seventeen different kinds of brains,” she recalls. Among Toth’s team were a number of designers from the theater community who had never done television, which helped in tackling the various elements of the design, from grand party scenes to elaborate Broadway numbers. “You get to a point where you’re able to just put the best person on each task so that the whole thing sings,” she explains.
Toth had a close working relationship with both Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams, two actors she had worked with before on other projects. “We already had a kind of short hand,” she explains. Toth also believes that her job is to use the costumes to help the actors give their best performances. “Anytime an actor is a hundred percent comfortable in what they’re wearing and they feel like it’s the character, then they forget about [the costume], and that’s what I love most about costume design.”
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