For two-time Oscar winner Mark Bridges (“The Artist,” “Phantom Thread”), designing the costumes for “News of the World” was “very exciting” as an opportunity “to work in a period that I hadn’t worked in before.” It’s a Western set just after the Civil War and stars Tom Hanks as a former Confederate soldier escorting an orphaned girl (Helena Zengel) back home to her family. Watch our interview with Bridges as part of our “Meet the Experts” costume designers panel above.
Bridges’ research for the film included “drawings” as well as “photographs from the period, newspapers, and then just trying to think about what these lives are like, what they are able to acquire.” Director Paul Greengrass, with whom Bridges previously worked on “Captain Phillips” (2013) and “Jason Bourne” (2016), also helped guide his approach to the wardrobe: “He likes a very textured, very gritty look … I think he mentioned one time to me ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ and even though it’s a different period I think the texture was something that I tried to give him, and I think we were successful.”
He further explains, “One of the first things that I do in my process is try to put my hands on actual garments, so we did research at some local rental houses … You find real garments that kind of speak to you and go off of that.” From there the costumes needed to be distressed to reflect the rugged lives of characters on the frontier. “I’m fortunate enough to have a breakdown artist Katalina Iturralde, who also did all my breakdown and dyeing work for ‘Joker‘ … They just needed to be sanded, painted, wetted, dragged through the parking lot, whatever it took.”
But even though Hanks plays the lead role in the film, Bridges didn’t have much prep time with him before filming started. “We didn’t see him until late in the game shortly before we were going to go to New Mexico and shortly before we were going to shoot,” he reveals. “Sometimes you just have to go for it, and this was one case where I just went for it and luckily it worked out.”
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