Courtney Hoffman Q&A: ‘Captain Fantastic’ costume designer
Surprisingly, Courtney Hoffman got hired to design the costumes of “Captain Fantastic” after she insulted its director-writer. She had the guts to tell Matt Ross that his original fashion approach was wrong.
At Gold Derby’s “Meet the Experts” panel at the Landmark Theater on Nov. 9, Hoffman recalled her reactions after first reading the script. “I said to Matt, ‘You created the most evocative world, but the instincts you have about the costumes in it I don’t agree with,'” she recalled. “I said that in my interview, and I thought this could go amazingly or this could go terribly, but it was what I believed in based on what he wrote.” What Hoffman disagreed with was Ross’s “gender-specific” approach, which she felt was contrary to the story and characters he’d written.
Suffice it to say that Hoffman got the job. “He really let me run, and it was such a dream,” she said of her collaboration with Ross.
The film tells the story of a family living in isolation in the woods, who are forced out into the world after the death of the family’s mother, and some of the costumes Hoffman is proudest of were the ones she designed for the funeral. “To me it’s not about them having loud costumes, it’s about them having things that meant something to them and meant something to their mother,” she explained. “Those costumes were as great a creative endeavor as they were an emotional experience, and everyone just owned that moment to such a degree that every time it comes on camera my heart skips a beat.”
Hoffman’s previous costume design credits include other contemporary films like “Max Rose” (2013), “Palo Alto” (2013), “Alex of Venice” (2014) and “The Boy Next Door” (2015). But she has also designed westerns: “Dead Man’s Burden” (2012) and most famously Quentin Tarantino‘s “The Hateful Eight” (2015). Before that she worked as Christoph Waltz‘s personal costumer on Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” (2012).